Eryk Anders talks UFC 236 fight with Khalil Rountree, interim titles, and predicts Kelvin Gastelum vs. Israel Adesanya 1

Despite being on a two-fight losing streak for the first time in his career, Eryk Anders is simply focused on improving his game rather than the possibility of another loss.

Anders (11-3) takes on Khalil Rountree (7-3) in a light heavyweight contest on the main card of UFC 236 which takes place April 13 at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bouncing back

His last outing was a split-decision loss to Elias Theodorou in a middleweight contest and while Anders doesn’t seem to be a fan of the Canadian’s gameplan, he gives props to him for executing it.

In turn, Anders feels the loss will help him in the future now that he has gone back to the basics.

“You know, anytime you win or lose, there’s always more that you could have done and things you could have done better,” Anders told The Body Lock’s John Hyon Ko.

“Elias went out there, he did his thing, implemented his gameplan, got on his bike and outpointed his way to a decision so kudos to him. Not my style of fight but that’s the fight I asked for. It is what it is.”

“We went back to square one, started from scratch. I think now, I’ll really be able to utilize my athletic ability, cut people off in the Octagon and have more output, which is another issue of mine. Instead of waiting on the power shot and trying to knock people out, kind of pepper them up a little bit to set up that power shot.”

Split-decision losses

The loss to Theodorou marked the third defeat of the former college football player’s career with two of them coming by way of split-decision after a somewhat controversial loss to Lyoto Machida last year.

If those decisions went his way, Anders may have been looking at a 13-1 record now, but he doesn’t look at it that way.

“Not really man, you just take it on the chin. Learn from it and try not to make the same mistake twice. It is what it is, you can’t rewrite history, the ink’s already dry in the book so I’m just trying to keep moving and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Potential brawl with Rountree

Unlike Machida and Theodorou though, Rountree won’t be getting on his bike, and will stand and trade with Anders, which is exactly what he wants in what he predicts will be a fun fight for the fans.

“I think I’m more well-rounded [than Rountree]. I can wrestle, I got jits. I don’t think we’re going to use a whole lot of that in this fight. He likes to stand and bang, I like to stand and bang. He’s a little more fast-twitched than I am, a little bit more explosive.”

“But the longer the fight goes on, the more it favors me. He’s shown to have cardio issues, get tired in fights in the past. I know there’ll be a hell of a storm to weather at first but fully confident in my ability to go out there. Every time I fight, I’m fighting for a bonus so it’s no secret what I’m going to try to do.”

Benefits of fighting at 205 pounds

Anders will notably be returning to light heavyweight once again and it looks to be a permanent move this time. Like many who have benefited from moving up in recent times, the 31-year-old spoke of how much better he feels at 205 pounds.

“I can pretty much eat and do whatever I want. I keep my weight below 230 and the weight cut is super easy. Probably not as aesthetically pleasing as when I fight at 185 but I’m not in a bodybuilding show or nothing like that so I’m not really stressing about cutting weight. I felt great when I fought Thiago [Santos] at 205. I feel like we fought at a pretty good pace, especially on short notice.”

“I think when I fight at 185, I put on a little too much weight after I cut weight. My body is used to walking around at this, now I’m this, now I’m that. Maybe just a little bit too heavy so I think I’ll be able to maximize my full athletic ability at 205.”

Interim titles and Gastelum vs. Adesanya prediction

UFC 236 will be headlined by an interim lightweight title fight between Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier. In the co-main event, meanwhile, Kelvin Gastelum takes on Israel Adesanya for the interim middleweight title.

So what does Anders make of interim titles and who does he think will go on to face middleweight champion Robert Whittaker?

“Man, it’s really just a number one contender thing. You can throw the word interim on there but I think any true competitor doesn’t acknowledge that this is the belt. They’re just fighting for the number one contender spot.”

“I think Israel is going to go out there and lay it on Kelvin Gastelum. He uses range really well, he understands distance and he’s so much bigger and longer than Kelvin. Kelvin’s got knockout power. I just don’t think he’s going to be close enough to use it.”

You can see the full interview below and read about Anders’ comments regarding former opponent Thiago Santos and his chances against Jon Jones which you can read here.