Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight hitters Eryk Anders and Khalil Rountree Jr. will go to war this Saturday (April 13, 2019) at UFC 236 from State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
Anders is definitely one of the better UFC fighters in recent memory to evenly split his first six fights inside the Octagon. The former collegiate football star is really still figuring things out, both by working out the technical kinks in his approach and bouncing between weight classes in the hopes of fulfilling his potential. Rountree is another example of unfulfilled potential — at least so far. “The War Horse” is a remarkable athlete with serious speed and power, but like his opponent, Rountree still has some holes in his game to fill before he can become a true contender.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Rafael Natal (UFC on FOX 25), Tim Williams (UFC Fight Night 135), Markus Perez (UFC Fight Night 123)
Key Losses: Thiago Santos (UFC Fight Night 137), Lyoto Machida (UFC Fight Night 125), Elias Theodorou (UFC 231)
Keys to Victory: Regardless of his weight class choice, Anders is a big-and-tough Southpaw who has a lot of trust in his left hand. “Ya Boi” tends to bully opponents, stalking them around the Octagon with power punches and the occasional takedown attempt.
Both men struggle with consistency. Anders has some real talent, but he’s lost a pair of split-decisions largely because he allowed his opponents to work while waiting for the perfect opportunity. The bright side here is that Rountree has the same problem!
Between the two, Anders seems to know his own strategy a bit better. Walking forward, slinging left hands, and jamming his opponent into the fence is simple but highly effective stuff. Anders can stick to that general approach, he just needs a bit more offensive volume to avoid these close decisions.
Khalil Rountree Jr.
Record: 7-3 (1)
Key Wins: Gokhan Saki (UFC 226), Paul Craig (UFC Fight Night 113), Daniel Jolly (UFC Fight Night 104)
Key Losses: Johnny Walker (UFC Fight Night 140), Tyson Pedro (UFC Fight Night 101), Andrew Sanchez (TUF 23 Finale)
Keys to Victory: While Anders falls into the rough, strong, and tough category of athlete, Rountree is all about that dynamic movement. All three of Rountree’s UFC victories landed via knockout, including his ultra impressive first-round stoppage of kickboxing legend Gokhan Saki, a man known for his iron chin.
As said before, both men are figuring out and fine-tuning their overall styles as fighters. Rountree seems to be settling more into the role of counter puncher, patiently waiting to get a read on opponents before exploding with sudden violence. Rountree still has to learn to be an effective fighter while initiating, but on the plus side, his takedown defense has improved quite a bit since his early UFC fights.
Rountree is a man who waits for an opening to land, and Anders is going to give him opportunities considering his pressure-first style. However, Anders has also proven rather durable and gritty — if the counter shot is not directly on the button, Anders may recover and keep applying pressure.
In short, Rountree cannot count on the one-punch knockout even if there is a real chance it lands early. Instead, “War Horse” has to focus on landing multiple counter strikes and occasionally initiating on his own. He doesn’t have to match Rountree’s volume completely given how obviously powerful his punches are, but Rountree needs to make sure he doesn’t let minutes tick by without throwing something.
Bottom Line: The odds seem evenly split for this bout to end violently or end up a staring contest.
Both men are Light Heavyweight prospects, which is a rare commodity. So rare, in fact, that their recent losses are not held against them that heavily. This is an opportunity for each man to move on from those defeats, as an entertaining win on the main card of a pay-per-view (PPV) event would likely see the victor challenge a ranked foe next.
At the same time, the incredible thinness of the 205-pound division means the consequences for defeat are rather light. No one is getting cut with a defeat, even if it would be Anders’ third-straight loss or Rountree’s second. The division needs bodies, both to hopefully grow in the future or at least test other prospects who will.
At UFC 236, Eryk Anderson and Khalil Rountree Jr. will battle. Which Light Heavyweight will land first?