Anders, a former linebacker for the 2009 University of Alabama championship team, brought a 6-1 record into the cage. Horton said Anders was known for his striking ability, a fact Horton’s right eye would later verify.
The 185-pound middleweight bout took place in Killer Buzz Arena in Tuscaloosa.
Horton had to overcome more than Anders, however, to win his eighth fight and remain undefeated.
“Not taking anything from Eryk Anders, he is one tough guy, but yes I was definitely sick and feeling terrible two weeks leading up to the fight and the day of,” Horton said. “I was hoping with Eryk and the fans on my mind that I would be able to put the sickness behind me for a few minutes in the cage.”
During the first three-minute round, the fighters exchanged knee strikes and wound up on the floor on occasions. Apparently Anders preferred a stand-up fight, allowing Horton back to his feet to resume the fight.
Backed against the cage, Horton absorbed a flurry of blows and escaped with an attempted take down. Anders gained Horton’s back, but Horton reversed and mounted Anders attempting to strike his opponent but was stopped with the end of the round.
“As soon as the first round started I realized I was fighting not only this really awesome MMA fighter across from me,” said Horton, “I was fighting a terrible stomach pain.”
The fighters resumed the second round, and after an exchange of knee strikes, Anders landed heavy blows to Horton’s right cheek with a right jab followed by a left.
Horton and Anders landed on the floor with Anders attempting several blows from above. Horton positioned himself and when Anders presented his right arm, Horton rolled Anders on his back and finished the fight with an arm bar approximately midway in the second round.
“It was a arm bar I landed on him- one of my favorite ground submissions,” Horton said. “The only real mistake he made was staying on the ground too long with me because he is more of a striker. Believe me the guy hits hard. Just look at my face.”
It was Horton’s Jiu-Jitsu that proved to be his chief advantage.
“Yes Jiu-Jitsu saved my life in there,” Horton said. “Without my BJJ, I might have been in a lot of trouble because Eryk was landing a lot of shots to my face.”
After Anders tapped out, Horton remained on the mat looking exhausted. After the fight he said he was thinking, “Man it was such a great feeling because now I could just focus on my stomach pain and not him trying to kill me at the same time.”
After the fight Horton evaluated his stand-up work.
“My stand up felt horrible in there,” Horton said. “I couldn’t throw a punch without wanting to fall over in pain.”
Horton revealed much more about his opponent than Anders’ ability as a fighter, but as a good sportsman as well.
“Eryk Anders is an awesome fighter with a lot of good skills- given time he is going to be unstoppable,” Horton said. “He is also a class act, he was calling and checking up on me the whole time I was in the ER that night. That showed a lot about Eryk Anders to all of us.”
After the fight, Horton went to the emergency room to have his injuries checked.
“I would like to say to everyone no matter what’s going wrong in your life keep fighting! Don’t give up,” Horton said. “We all have our fights in life.”