Eryk Anders (+142) vs. Darren Stewart (-168)
Weight Class: Middleweight (185 lbs)
England’s Darren Stewart is set to take on Eryk Anders at UFC Vegas 21. Both fighters are longtime UFC veterans who could really use a win to get things going. With each man coming off a loss, this could be a tough fight to pick.
For Stewart, he last lost a close decision to Kevin Holland this past summer. Stewart had Holland backing up after some heavy shots and had an excellent third round. Though a loss, Stewart’s performance was about as good as anyone has looked against Holland in recent months.
Prior to the bout with Holland, Stewart secured a viscous round one knockout of Maiki Pitolo. Though Pitolo has struggled to find success in the UFC, he is a very game fighter and has fought to some tight decisions. The win over Pitolo was good for Stewart’s third UFC win in a row at the time, though he did fight Bartosz Fabinski with Cage Warriors at the start of the pandemic. The Englishman came up short against Fabinski and was held down for much of the fight, but it didn’t count towards anything in the UFC outright.
All told, Darren Stewart is the type of fighter who could easily put together a run late in his career. He has great power, decent wrestling and is a great pressure fighter. Darren Stewart is definitely a guy who could go on a Jan Blachowicz type run if things break right. Maybe not as far as Jan, but the point is that Stewart has the tools, experience and is still relatively young.
As for Anders, his UFC career has gone very similarly to that of Stewart. He has beaten some solid fighters and lost to some other wins. All told, he has a mixed bag record and is in a similar spot to Stewart here.
Stylistically, Anders should have the edge grappling wise. On the feet, it’s hard not to lean Stewart. He has very heavy hands and should be able to outbox Anders.
This is ultimately a close fight to predict and the betting line reflects it, with money coming in on Anders as fight time approaches. With that said, I think this is Stewart’s fight to lose. Anders shouldn’t be able to simply grapple him for three rounds like Fabinski did, though that hole plan was potentially exposed. If it stays standing, I think Stewart will land the heavier shots and break him apart. I could easily see Stewart getting the knockout, though I won’t be betting it.
Betting wise, I put 1u on a parlay of Darren Stewart moneyline and Leon Edwards moneyline at -260. The line on Stewart has decreased from -184 to -168 with FanDuel Sportsbook, so you might be able to get a better value than I did.