Eryk Anders knows all about how patriotic Brazilians can be. After all, he’s married to one.
Fresh off of his unanimous decision win over Markus Perez this past Saturday at UFC Fresno, Anders is going on vacation in Brazil with his wife Yasmin who hails from the city of Curitiba. What seems like a logical travel destination could turn hostile for Anders given that he called out national hero Lyoto Machida immediately after defeating Perez.
Anders got his wish a few days after UFC Fresno and he’s now scheduled to face Machida in the main event of UFC Belem. The 30-year-old middleweight spoke to MMA Fighting prior to the matchup becoming official, and he wasn’t overly concerned about the reception he might receive during his trip to the South American country.
“I definitely plan on keeping a low profile,” Anders joked. “At the same time, the Brazilian fans are pretty passionate so I hope that they’ll understand that it’s not personal, it’s just about business and trying to work my way up the ladder so we’ll see how it goes.”
Adding to any potential animosity is the fact that the undefeated Anders (10-0) has earned both of his UFC wins against Brazilian fighters.
In his UFC debut, Anders knocked out 12-year veteran Rafael Natal inside of a round. That would turn out to be the Belo Horizonte native’s retirement bout, though Anders doesn’t want to be thought of as the man who ended Natal’s career.
“You know, I’m just the last guy to fight him,” said Anders. “If I’m the guy who retired him, I don’t think that I did anything to him that he hasn’t experienced before. I think that he just kind of realized that his chin is gone, his time is up, he can always coach jiu-jitsu, he doesn’t really need fighting probably. So it’s okay to step away from the sport when your body tells you it’s time.”
Stepping up to challenge a former UFC champion might cause anxiety for most fighters, but the relatively inexperienced Anders feels fully prepared to take on Machida, once considered one of the sport’s most difficult puzzles to figure out. “The Dragon” has lost four of his list five bouts, including a first-round knockout loss to Derek Brunson less than two months ago.
Anders believes that the time is now for him to head into enemy territory and claim his most esteemed scalp to date.
“I don’t feel like it’s too much of a challenge at all,” said Anders. “I’m very confident in my preparation for fights, when it comes to my conditioning, my cage work, clinch work, on the ground, striking, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, I do it all. And I’m very confident in my ability to go out there under pressure and get the job done as well so I don’t think it’s too much too soon. I think everything is kind of culminating at the right time for me, so this is just a logical step up in the right direction.”