“Eryk Anders has a lot of hype behind him,” Theodorou said. “He has a whole team behind him from Alabama because he’s ‘Roll Tide,’ as they say. He’s coming to knock my block off, but I’m going to show him the difference between chess and checkers. I’m going to break him mentally and physically.”
That, Anders said, is “not possible.”
“He can say whatever he needs to say,” Anders said. “He is trying to maybe sell the fight or psyche himself out. Deep down inside, we both know what the deal is. I expect him to come out there and try and use his cardio as a weapon and bounce around, in and out of the clinch. Same kind of game plan he had against Sam Alvey (in a unanimous decision on June 18, 2016). I think I’m a little bit of a tougher matchup for him.”
The 185-pounders will square off on the preliminary card of UFC 231 on Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. A UFC featherweight championship match between Max Holloway and Brian Ortega and a fight for the UFC women’s flyweight championship between strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Valentina Shevchenko headline the event.
FOX Sports 1 will televise preliminary fights starting at 7 p.m. CST Saturday, with the main card on FOX starting at 9 p.m.
Theodorou has a 15-2 record as a mixed martial arts pro and a 7-2 record in UFC-sanctioned fights. He’s coming off a unanimous decision over Trevor Smith at UFC Fight Night 130 on May 27.
Anders has an 11-2 MMA record and a 3-2 mark in UFC fights. He’s coming off a loss to Thiago Santos on Sept. 22.
Anders had taken too many elbows to the head and was exhausted when the referee stopped his fight against Santos at the end of the third round. Anders was fighting as a light heavyweight for the first time as a injury fill-in, taking the assignment on just six-days’ notice.
“I’ve never lost twice in a row,” Anders said. “I’m looking to get in there, rebound and make a statement. I’m 1-2 on the year so far, but I’ve got two bonuses from exciting fights. My stock went way up this year. Obviously, I’d like to have those two losses back, but you can’t go back in time.”
Anders started 2018 headlining UFC Fight Night 125 against Lyoto Machida in his Brazilian opponent’s home town. He lost a split decision on Feb. 3.
On Saturday night, Anders will fight a native of Ontario in Toronto.
“Just watching films, there are fights that (Theodorou) has had in Toronto in the same arena that he possibly could’ve lost,” Anders said. “But I think that fighting in somebody else’s hometown is starting a point down. I’ve definitely got some making up to do, so I’m coming at him with a lot of volume.”
Between the losses to Machida and Santos, Anders put in a contender for Knockout of the Year honors when he took out Tim Williams with a kick to the head at UFC Fight Night 135 on Aug. 25.
That’s the kind of result he hopes to see against Theodorou. But the Canadian has never been knocked out. His two losses came by decision.
“It’s no secret, he doesn’t like to get hit, and I plan on hitting him a lot,” Anders said. “He’s never been finished, and I plan on being the first one to finish him. I think it’s going to be a more exciting fight than people think.”
Anders played football at Alabama from 2006 through 2009. In Anders’ final appearance — the BCS national-championship game — his fumble-causing sack of Texas quarterback Garret Gilbert gave Alabama the football at the Longhorns’ 3-yard line with the Crimson Tide holding a 24-21 lead with 3:02 left in the game.
Anders led Alabama with seven tackles in a 37-21 victory over the Longhorns for the first of coach Nick Saban’s five national titles with the Tide.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.