Travis Wiuff never expected to fight at light heavyweight again.
After mixed results in a stint at 205 pounds, he simply felt it was no longer worth the extraordinary effort to cut the weight and compete down there. He was prepared to fight at heavyweight for the remainder of his career.
But then fate intervened.
"Diesel" had five weeks to cut 55 pounds.
Not did he make the weight, but the Minnesota wrestler actually pulled off the upset and is still the only man to defeat a reigning Bellator champion in a non-title bout. Now, Wiuff will be a participant in the 2012 Bellator light heavyweight "Summer Series" tournament. He'll be battling Chris Davis at Bellator 71 next Friday night (June 22, 2012) in the quarterfinals on the road to rematch M'Pumbu, this time for the title.
Wiuff was recently a guest on Bloody Elbow Radio where he discussed the circumstances that led to his original bout against M'Pumbu, his thoughts on Muhammed Lawal signing with Bellator as well as whatever happened to the YAMMA belt he won back in 2008.
Check it out:
Matt Bishop: How excited are you to get into this Bellator light heavyweight tournament?
Travis Wiuff: I'm very excited. I've been training hard and I feel great. I'm just ready to get it on. I've come to the point where training is getting pretty monotonous and I've still got to get some weight off. Other than that, I'm ready to go.
Matt Bishop: You've fought all over the place, long-time veteran of the sport. You get the call to face Christian M'Pumbu at Bellator 55 last October. How did you end up in Bellator?
Travis Wiuff: Yeah I got the call about five weeks out from the fight and I was weighing about 260. My manager Monte Cox asked me if I could drop down to 205 to fight Bellator's light heavyweight champion and I was to the point where I had never thought about going back down to 205. I did it a few years prior and had mixed results. My plan was to get as heavy as I could so there was no chance I could ever go down to 205 (laughs).
Last year was a tough year as far as finding fights. We only found two fights including the Bellator fight at the end of the year. Usually I'm fighting 5-6 times a year but last year everything fell through from opponents to casinos and just shows in general. I was pretty desperate. When I got the call, I was 260 and was eating pizza and he gave me the word.
I had about five weeks to really not train for a fight but just to get my weight off, get down to 205. Obviously I made the weight and the fight went well. He's a small guy at 205 and he doesn't have much of a wrestling background. He's got good striking and he's a tough guy but I was able to control him with my wrestling, weather a tough storm in the third round and win a decision.
Matt Bishop: So you were up to 260 before the M'Pumbu fight and your last fight was a 215 pound catchweight. Do you feel confident that if you were to advance to the finals of this tournament, that you'd be able to make 205 pounds for three straight months?
Travis Wiuff: Yeah. I'm not gonna let my weight get out of control like it was. I'm a big guy. I walk around at 250 so it's still a tough cut for me. It's hard to get get down to 205 but I think having fights in back to back months is a good thing for me. I'm not gonna let my weight get out of hand. I might let it get up to 240, but I'll be right back into training. I'm not gonna let my weight get as high as it was so I think having to fight back to back to back is a good thing in terms of keeping my weight down. I put on up to 30 pounds after weigh-ins. When I step into the cage I'll be about 230-235.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Knowing that you've beat the champion Christian M'Pumbu already, is it frustrating at all now that you have to win three fights in a tournament just to get another crack at him?
Travis Wiuff: No, not really. I know Bellator, their thing is the tournament. I understand that you have to go through the tournament in order to fight the champion for the title and beat him. A championship fight is five rounds and my fight against Christian last October was three rounds. I know what I've to do to get back there and I feel pretty confident that I can get back to Christian and we'll have a five round fight and I think if it does go five rounds, I'll be ready to go five rounds.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What do you think about Bellator signing "King Mo," a guy you welcomed into MMA with his first professional fight?
Travis Wiuff: You know, I think there's a lot of hype about it but there's a lot of things that've got to happen. From what I understand, he had some pretty serious injuries and he's got to come back from those. If history is any example, the next light heavyweight tournament is gonna be tougher than this light heavyweight tournament and this one is pretty tough so I don't think people will just lay down for him and let him advance through the tournament. He's got some work to do and it'll be exciting to see what happens.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): With how much weight that you have to cut for each fight, is there any concern about your conditioning going into a third round against some of these light heavyweights?
Travis Wiuff: No, this time I've kept my weight down, more under control where I"m not just concentrating constantly on cutting weight where I was in the past. I changed up my training quite a bit this time, started doing some Cross-Fit. I think my cardio is better now than it ever has been. The gym is called Cross-Fit Progression and it's a great gym. The coach there has tailor-made some MMA specific workouts for me, about 15-20 minute hard bursts. Right now, I can really concentrate on getting in fighting shape instead of cutting weight.
Matt Bishop: You've got Chris Davis coming up next Friday in the quarterfinals of the Bellator Summer Series light heavyweight tournament. What are going to have to do to win three fights and win this tournament?
Travis Wiuff: Just go out there and fight. I'm not gonna be the slickest guy out there. I won't have the prettiest combinations or the best jiu-jitsu but I'm gonna fight hard for 15 minutes and I'm gonna do everything within the rules to get my hand raised in the end. For the longest time in my career, I was basically overthinking. When you break it all down, it's a fight for 15 minutes. That's all I've got to do is go out there and fight for 15 minutes and the decision and everything else will take care of itself. That's all I'm worrying about.
Matt Bishop: So do you plan on adding a Bellator light heavyweight championship to your YAMMA tournament championshipo?
Travis Wiuff: I wish I knew where that YAMMA belt was. I could probably sell it for some pretty good money. I actually lost it. It was actually a pretty nice looking belt. Someday I'll have to find it. But yeah, that Bellator belt would be nice to have.