Welcome fight Enthusiasts to UFC Fight Night 137 from Sao Paolo, Brazil. The main event has resembled more a shell game than a headline fight as there have been numerous changes made before finally settling on Santos vs. Anders. As usual with these foreign cards, local and regional talent is highlighted and in most cases awarded favorable match-ups. While this leads to great marketing for the region it does not do a lot for competitive matchmaking in so far as the card is steep with heavy favorites. The final main event however sets up to be quite a stand up battle where either fighter has a distinct yet similar path to victory.
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-The following is my Santos vs. Anders breakdown originally published 9-18-18 for VSiN’s “Point Spread weekly”. I’ll provide today’s updates after that article-
Sao Paolo, Brazil hosts this week’s UFC Fight Night 137 where numerous main event changes and many regional/local Brazilian fighters make for another relatively obscure fight card.
The originally scheduled Main event was a Light- Heavyweight (205 lb.) marquee matchup pitting Brazilian Glover Teixeira with Englishman Jimi Manuwa. In my estimation (and I believe in Manuwa’s) Teixeira was made for Manuwa stylistically and maybe Teixeira knew this as he pulled out of the fight early with ‘injury’.
Manuwa was then placed in a similar situation, preparing an old, slow Light-Heavyweight in Teixeira when Middleweight slugger Thiago Santos (another Brazilian fighter) stepped in to grab the main event exposure and fight at Light-Heavyweight (205 lbs.) even though Santos fights at Middleweight (185lbs.).
Mysteriously and just a week ago, Jimi Manuwa pulled out of the fight after having incurred ‘injury’ and will now be replaced by Eryk Anders who fought in August on the card from Lincoln, Ne. Anders was more than willing to grab the opportunity to gain his second Main Event opportunity from the Mecca of MMA, Brazil in less than a year.
It’s my opinion that the cause of ALL of the changes in the main event on this card is based on one fighter having the ‘good sense’ and/or career incentive to duck the more dangerously styled replacement.
This refurbished fight card now features a main event where ironically advantage may lie with the replacement fighter (Anders) as opposed to the fighter who has been preparing for the event for weeks.
So in Saturday’s Main event from Sao Paolo the UFC will present us with two active Middleweight fighters (185 lbs.) that will fight on a Main Event as Light-Heavyweights. Santos for his part has been able to appropriately prepare for 205 lbs. (which means he has little to no weight cut in order to make weight).
Anders, who has been maintaining his conditioning for exactly this form of opportunity, now steps into a main event in Brazil where he won’t have to compromise his opportunity to be victorious by trying to cut abundant weight to get to 185. Though his notice for this fight was just seven days or so his cut will be manageable as he can easily attain the 205 lb. limit. Clearly Anders has been in the gym since that August victory.
We don’t often get as many ‘moving parts’ affecting a fight as this one so I find this match-up intriguing as well challenging. Let’s break it down now that the table is set.
Thiago Santos -145 vs. Eryk Anders +125 Light Heavyweight Main Event (205lbs.)
Santos is not your typical BJJ artist from Brazil who wished to flop on the floor looking to submit the opponent. Rather he is a heavily muscled, profusely powered slugger that can turn an opponent’s lights out with one shot which is why Manuwa wanted no part of him in his own back yard.
Santos who is a black belt in Muay Thai and BJJ has little defense against take downs, is quite one dimensional despite the BJJ background and is ineffective fighting from the floor should a fight go there. Santos biggest challenge is his ability to maintain his energy after a full round as he is muscled and has shown a tendency to slow after a full five minutes of battle. Couple this with a glass jaw and you have a fighter in Santos who really would have preferred a slower Jimi Manuwa over an explosive athlete in Anders. If Santos is to win this fight or any fight, it will be with his stand up and via KO and that would have been a bit more manageable against Manuwa than Anders in my judgement.
Eryk Anders steps in on a week’s notice for a dynamic career opportunity. He’s an ex-Alabama linebacker so we know he is tough, athletic and physical albeit somewhat developing in his professional UFC fight experience.
Anders career displayed great promise and ascent up until February of this year when as a hyped and hugely under experienced UFC combatant he accepted a fight against a beguiling experienced Lyoto Machida in Belem, Brazil and earned his PhD. in MMA (Machida schooled the kid and won in a split decision).
Anders is a purple belt in BJJ but also a striking based fighter by nature but as an ex-linebacker I know he can tackle and in this fight we may well see the kid bury Santos and make this fight a maul on the mat. He is very capable of executing take downs on Santos. His experience of fighting in Brazil earlier this year to disappointing results and his willingness to take this fight on seven days-notice all speak volumes for in my estimation the athletic Anders is a poor match-up for Santos in this Anders second trip to Brazil.
Anders power, athletic/explosive ability and his granite chin together make me feel that this fight should be more closely lined; in fact, I make this fight close to pick-em.
One may question Anders cardio having only a week to prepare for this fight and that is fair. It’s my judgement that he’s been preparing for an opportunity since he stepped out of the Octagon in August and he has the potential of being richly rewarded for being a prepared professional.
Fighting in Brazil will not intimidate Anders Saturday for he’ll arrive there this week feeling that he owns the Brazilian people more ‘fight’ than he showed this past February. Anders plan will be to exercise caution early and take the fight to Santos, force the slugger to exert energy which will eventually sap his speed, power and will.
Anders at a dog price is worthy of an investment.
Updated Saturday 9-22-18 12:45pm EST
Well fight enthusiasts, if I liked Anders +125 then needless to say that today I like Anders +165! Not only is it challenging to make these breakdowns the Monday prior to the fight but as a dog player the published VSiN price often offers less gaming value than the price available on the day of the fight. That said, a deadline is a deadline and my basic fight breakdown rarely changes. Don't be afraid to wait a little before pulling the triggerof you do like Anders for you may find another dime of so of value by being patient!
At this point I do have a couple of other leans on this card but nothing I want to publish at this time. I’ll rely on @Twitter for any late mangy mutt musings so stay tuned in!
October 6, 2018 is UFC 229 Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor. Count on a few aggressive positions for that fight card.
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