Preview: UFC 263 Prelims

Anders vs. Stewart

By Tom Feely Jun 10, 2021

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Light Heavyweights

NR | Eryk Anders (13-5-1, 5-5 UFC) vs. NR | Darren Stewart (12-6-1, 5-5 UFC)

ODDS: Anders (-150), Stewart (+130)

It has been a strange UFC career for Anders. He came to the UFC with a built-in fanbase, owing to his days as a linebacker at the University of Alabama, and looked like a promising prospect through his first two Octagon appearances. However, the promotion decided to leverage his football background into a main event spot against Lyoto Machida shortly thereafter, and Anders has been rushed up the ladder as a result. There is a lot to like about Anders, as he is obviously a high-level athlete and has plenty of durability—sometimes too much for his own good. While he looked to be a quick study in MMA, he has not really developed any sort of depth. The end result: a fighter with a lot of poise and good ideas who often lacks the tools or the temperament to find a second gear. Anders is still capable of an explosive finish, and it was nice to see him start to turn a corner against Darren Stewart in March. He found an opening to attack and started laying down a beating, until he hit Stewart with a blatantly illegal knee that turned the fight into a no contest. As a result, the two will run it back here. As for Stewart, the Londoner has spent his UFC career getting over his own issues. “The Dentist” came to the UFC as a bulldozer who tended to quickly overwhelm his adversaries, but he had some obvious issues against opponents who were able to hang tough and provide some resistance. Stewart still is not particularly comfortable against pressure, but he has shown the ability to pace himself and find an opening if it presents itself; his August submission win over Maki Pitolo was a nice marker of progress. Anders’ physicality and durability should carry the day. If nothing else, he should be able to clinch with Stewart and win a grind, and given how the last fight went, Anders may feel like going back to a more cautious approach. The pick is Anders via decision.

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