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Eryk Anders impresses, but drops split decision to Lyoto Machida in UFC Belem

Anders takes his first loss after putting the fight in the judge’s hands on Machida’s home turf.

Better luck next time, Eryk

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Eryk Anders (10-1) suffered his first professional loss last night at UFC Belem before a hostile sold-out Brazilian crowd there to cheer on hometown legend Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida (24-9). As previewed earlier this week, the fight was one of contrasts: the explosive, powerful Anders vs. the lightning-quick technician Machida.

Machida came out of the gate fast, working Anders over with his superior quickness, particularly using his feet and kicks well. But, Anders was able to turn the tide in the second and third rounds with some powerful punches and knees, bloodying Machida and putting the former champ in peril throughout. The final rounds saw Machida somewhat return to his first round strategy: dancing away from the southpaw, while quickly counterstriking when possible. The age and strength difference between the men did show in the middle rounds, though Machida was able to outscore Anders significantly early before Father Time took over.

Still new to the fight game, Anders put the bout into the judge’s hands, in Machida’s home town no less. That’s never going be a winning strategy for someone without the name cache, nuance, or reputation of Machida. Though we can quibble over the loss, it is hard to argue with the winner here: two of three judges had this scored as an exceptionally close fight (48-47, 47-48, 49-46,) and it was razor thin. I suspect that a great deal of the scoring differential came from judges who preferred the more balanced grappling and footwork of Machida over the mauling that Anders’ game relies upon.

While the result was not one that Anders may have wanted, he actually earned a lot of respect from the fight press by acquitting himself against an aging-but-class fighter. It’s pretty clear now that Anders, who is still a raw prospect, is not an overhyped product of marketing bloodying soupcans and over-the-hill types to an impressive record.

MMA Fighting had the consensus opinion of Anders’ night:

Anders (10-1) had a very good showing for someone with a fraction of Machida’s experience, especially given the partisan crowd. The former University of Alabama football player had won two fights in the UFC coming in. Anders, 30, did little to drop his stock as someone in the middleweight division to watch in the future.

He’s not going away any time soon.

Roll Tide.