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From the Gridiron to the Octagon

Eryk Anders’ road from crimson champion to MMA legend

Former Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker and current MMA star Eryk Anders is in a reflective mood. Now 37 and with three fights left on his schedule before possibly retiring, Anders has seen some major ups and downs during his lifetime. 

After winning a national championship with the Crimson Tide in 2010, the first under Nick Saban, Anders quickly became a pro football gypsy. He spent a little time in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, followed by stints in the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League, before hanging up his cleats after a little more than a year in professional football. 

Anders struggled to adjust to post-football life, at one point working as a janitor in Tuscaloosa, a town where, just a year before, he was on top of the world as a national champion. 

“A lot of people ask me, ‘Why did you quit football?’ I didn’t quit football; football quit me,” says Anders. “I wasn’t good enough, big enough, strong enough, whatever enough to make it at the next level.”

“I thought I would have a cushy little gig selling insurance or in medical sales, the natural path that everybody kind of falls into if they don't make it in the NFL," adds Anders. “At least that's the way it seemed to me."

Disappointed and lost, Anders started abusing alcohol and drugs. Already the father of a young son, Israel, Anders finally realized he had to make major changes for himself and his son. 

“I just knew I had to do better for him because this won't end well playing this game that I'm playing,” Anders admits. 

Anders soon turned to mixed martial arts (MMA) in 2012, finding an outlet for his athleticism and a way to instill a sense of structure and discipline in his life. He began competing as an amateur in 2012 and turned pro in 2015, defeating Josh Rasberry by TKO in just 40 seconds. 

Anders has spent the last decade as one of the most marketable and successful MMA fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). With a record of 16 wins and nine losses, Anders has seen some ups and downs during his professional career, including a few injuries along the way. 

He credits the innovative wellness techniques of Restore Hyper Wellness in Mountain Brook for keeping him fit and viable.

“There was a dark period during the transition from football to MMA. Now it's midday, the sun is shining bright, not a cloud in the sky, and no chance of rain."

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