Fortunately for Anders, the visual was a lot worse than the actual consequences and Anders was able to return to the backstage area with only minimal assistance from his team, which included his wife Yasmin who was cornering him for the first time. Anders spoke to MMA Fighting on Monday to give an update on his health following the third-round TKO loss.
“I just wanted to lay down, just chill for a second,” said Anders of how soon he was able to recover once the fight was officially waved off. “Obviously, the middle of the Octagon is not the place for that so once I talked to the doctors and all, they did take me to the hospital. But before all that I just went to the locker room and took a cold shower and laid down for a pretty good bit. I’ve never been that tired, that depleted or anything like that.”
Assessing the damage, Anders logged a pair of cuts, one over an eye, the other at the back of his head, stitches on his toe, and two black eyes, but otherwise he feels he’s in good shape with no sign of any structural damage or a concussion. The latter seemed like a possibility at first glance given the way that Anders fell at the sound of the third-round buzzer.
It was referee Marc Goddard who saw the state Anders was in and made the decision to signal for the end of the fight as soon as round three was over. By that point, Anders and Santos had been engaged in a high-output fight both on the feet and on the ground for 15 minutes and it seemed unlikely that either man would be in peak condition for another two rounds.
The stoppage came at just the right time in Anders’s opinion.
“My mouthpiece fell out during an exchange, I had him up against the fence, Marc Goddard stopped us and re-started us,” said Anders. “If you watch the fight, as he’s trying to separate us, I’m leaning on Marc Goddard. I was exhausted at that point. I tried to make it back to my stool at the end of that third round, but there was no making it for me.”
The bout was booked under less than ideal circumstances for Anders, a middleweight who agreed to move up to 205 pounds on six days’ notice to take on Santos, who himself was a short-notice replacement for Glover Teixeira and also transitioning from 185 pounds.
“Marreta” is known as one of the hardest hitters in the entire UFC, but Anders believes that if he had done a better job of getting his own cardio up to snuff, he would have at least gone the distance with the explosive Brazilian.
“I took all his punches, he kneed me in the face I’m pretty sure. I just kept coming forward, none of it really fazed me or anything,” said Anders. “Fighting for 15 minutes at the pace that we fought it was pretty taxing on the body, so it was fatigue, I’m not going to lie, he did hit me, of course. You look at my face you can definitely tell that I’ve been in a fight.
“But I kind of think that he was feeling the same way. Maybe not to the point where I was at, but he was getting tired as well. He poked me in the eye and when we separated he went and sat down. It took him a while to get up after that second round. After the third round he doesn’t exactly pop up, so I think that I had I been in shape, I had a full camp, maybe this fight goes a different direction.”
Health-permitting, Anders is still eyeing a spot on the UFC 231 card on Dec. 8 in Toronto, preferably against Elias Theodorou, who is searching for a new opponent after the withdrawal of Antonio Carlos Junior. But Anders’s negative experience at light heavyweight hasn’t soured him on fighting outside of his division either, and while he plans to stay there, he’s also open to occasionally jumping back up again if the right opportunity comes along.
“I’m definitely open to taking (205-pound) fights,” said Anders. “Perhaps on more than a week’s notice, but I’m down to step in there at 205, middleweight, possibly heavyweight, if the opponent is right.
“It’s not that I’m stuck at middleweight, ‘I’m gonna fight at middleweight and that’s it,’ no, that’s not true. I’m absolutely open to fight at light heavyweight and above if necessary. But I think for my career and longevity in this sport, I think that middleweight is going to need to be it.”