Many high school and college athletes tend to put all their eggs in one basket and fail to find a back up plan in order to extend their athletic careers. That was not the case for undefeated mixed martial artist DeAndre Anderson (4-0).
Anderson’s journey into MMA has been far from usual. He grew up with aspirations to play professional football, but was stopped short when he realized he lacked one of the main criteria for becoming an elite football player: immense size.
Anderson changed his focus from football to wrestling, where he began to have tremendous success at a high school level. The Hueytown, Alabama, wrestler’s illustrious career included accolades such as a state championship, three state qualifications, a sectional championship, and a stint on the Alabama National Team, before ending his high school career with a record of 152-15.
After a short time in college, Anderson shifted his focus into the MMA world. The transition was a complicated one initially, and Anderson admitted that jiu jitsu was the hardest element to add to his repertoire.
“Jiu jitsu was probably the hardest thing for me to learn,” Anderson told MMA-Prospects. “It took me a lot of time to really pick it up. I went straight into MMA training, but we only trained a few submissions… Everything I did was just for fighting purposes. It wasn’t until last year that I started going to a jiu jitsu gym. We basically just did things based on what I already knew.”
Despite minimal jiu jitsu training, Anderson picked up a win in his amateur debut – just a few months into his MMA training – by snatching up a rear-naked choke finish in under a minute.
After an impressive amateur career, going 5-1 with top regional promotion King of the Cage (KOTC), Anderson was awarded a $100,000 contract to compete for the organization after a win at the promotion’s World Amateur Championships event in 2017.
Since making the jump to the pros, he has strung together a perfect 4-0 record in mixed martial arts while also dipping his feet into other disciplines.
He has stayed active in both boxing and kickboxing to improve areas of his games. In one interesting twist, Anderson lost a close decision to Devante Sewell (7-5) back in 2018 in a kickboxing fight, but a year later, he avenged the loss in an MMA contest via submission with a second left in the second round.
Despite being young in the game, Anderson’s aspirations are far beyond the regional scene.
When asked about his long-term MMA, Anderson responded, “I would love to be in the UFC, it has the most notoriety. Whenever people talk to me, they’re like ‘You fight UFC?’ No one ever asks, ‘Do you fight Bellator or ONE FC?'”
Despite having respect for those and other organizations, as well as the fighters competing on those shows, the proud Alabama native’s desire is to make his hometown and state proud requires him to do it on the biggest stage.
“Everyone around me wants me in the UFC. I want to make everyone from the South proud, especially everyone in Birmingham, Alabama.”