Diesel powered: Bellator 73 headliner Travis Wiuff interview exclusive with MMAmania.com (Part one)

Bellator light heavyweight contender Travis Wiuff celebrates after defeating Chris Davis at Bellator 71. Photo via Bellator.

Travis Wiuff is hands down, one of the largest light heavyweights on the planet.

Walking around at a weight that would give most heavyweights a fit, he has figured out a method to lose a ridiculous amount of mass in a short period of time and then put it all back on within 24 hours for his fight.

By the time he steps into the cage, he's likely 20 pounds heavier than his opponent or more. His bulking size and strength has helped "Diesel" win the first two legs of the Bellator Summer Series Light Heavyweight tournament, physically dominating both Chris Davis and Tim Carpenter with intense pressure both on the ground and in the clinch.

Now, Wiuff has his sights set on the tournament title and the big reward of a championship rematch against current beltholder Christian M'Pumbu, a man he defeated late last year and helped spark his career resurgence.

But first, the Minnesota wrestler will need to get past scrappy European fighter Attila Vegh at Bellator 73 this Friday night (August 24, 2012) in Tunica, Mississippi.

Wiuff spoke to MMAmania.com during a special guest appearance on The Verbal Submission this past Sunday night about his dramatic weight cut, his intense focus on M'Pumbu and even his overall retirement plan from the sport in part one of this two-part exclusive interview.

Check it out:

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've got a fight coming up this Friday night against Attila Vegh and it's six days out from the fight. I heard you cut a ridiculous amount of weight before your fights so what are you, 240?

Travis Wiuff: This morning I was 241 so I've got a little of work to do.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You actually had a really difficult time making the cut down for your quarterfinal fight of this tournament and you've got this all down to a science, so did you have to make any special adjustments for the semifinal round or for this cut in particular?

Travis Wiuff: Yeah, I always take a look back and see if we can tweak it at all and if we can do anything different. It's never easy. People ask me what the secret is, that there must be some magic formula but there really isn't. I cut my calories, I drink a lot of water and I work out a lot. I wish I knew a secret but that's really what it all boils down to. I'm a true believer in not completely starving myself.

I have to continue to eat to stay healthy and have energy so I'll continue to eat but I'll switch to the healthy stuff. I do a lot of chicken, a lot of green vegetables and basically everything I put in my body has got to be functional. It's gotta be used for energy and the most important part is the water. I keep the water intake really high. Like a gallon and a half to two gallons a day and with that formula I feel pretty good.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I read an article about you in Men's Fitness and you mentioned there were some foods you just can't resist that get you in trouble so what is your "trouble food" that you'll be regretting when it's time for that last pound to come off?

Travis Wiuff: Oh man, I love to eat. I'm a big guy. I walk around about 250 pounds and I love red meat. I'm a meat eater so hamburgers, steaks, anything like that is my weakness. And I can't just have a little one either. I've got to have the biggest one. Red meat is definitely my weakness.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've talked about all kinds of different things in the lead-up to this fight but one of the most interesting things I stumbled upon was that when you when this tournament and win this title, you plan on retiring with the Bellator championship in the not-too-distant future. Do you already have the rest of your career planned out at this point?

Travis Wiuff: That's kind of the plan. I've been doing this for a long time. I've been fighting 12 years and my goal the whole time is to be a world champion. I've won a bunch of belts in smaller organizations and had some success in other places but the ultimate goal is to be a world champion in a major organization. I think I'm close to that goal right now with Bellator and I think if I can accomplish that goal I'll end my career on a high note.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've been extremely focused heading into this tournament. You smashed Chris Davis in the quarterfinals and you didn't just talk about the next round. In your post-fight speech, you called out champion Christian M'Pumbu who you beat in a superfight late last year. You've just been so focused on winning this tournament and getting another chance at him this time with the title on the line. Can you talk to me about how that's not been a distraction?

Travis Wiuff: Yeah I've definitely been focused. Beating Christian M'Pumbu last year kind of got my career back on track and gave me a goal. Up to that point, I was just kind of bouncing around from organization to organization and hadn't really found a home. Bellator gave me that home and I'm very thankful for it. Being their champion gave me a goal. I knew after I beat him that I would get an opportunity in the tournament and my goal in the tournament wasn't just to win a fight or a couple fights or even the whole tournament. My goal is to ultimately become the world champion and if I can accomplish that goal then the past 12 years of my career will have been worthwhile.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've talked about bouncing around from promotion to promotion and kind of feeling lost out there. Was there ever a point where you didn't really feel like doing this anymore?

Travis Wiuff: I love fighting. I love the competition and I even love the training. There wasn't a particular point where I didn't feel like doing it but I'm 34 years old now and I've got a family, a daughter, a fiance and it comes to a point where you're not making great money, can't support them, can't pay your bills and you're like, "Man, I can't work a job because I'm training full-time and I want to stay in shape for a fight in case something comes along." When you're not paying your bills and things like that, it makes it tough to stay focused. I never really lost the focus but this sport can be tougher on you than others.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the conclusion of our conversation with Wiuff where he talks about muscling fighters around in the cage, how Vegh compares to some of the 80+ opponents he's faced in his lengthy career and the worst butchering of his last name he's ever heard.

To listen to the complete audio of our conversation with Travis Wiuff, click here (interview starts at the 31:00 mark)

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