Travis Wiuff has been honed in on one thing for the entire last year: a Bellator title.
It all started when the promotion gave the hulking light heavyweight an opportunity to fight their light heavyweight champion in a "super fight" last November. "Diesel" cut down from heavyweight and not only performed admirably against their champion Christian M'Pumbu, he became the first man to defeat a Bellator champ in a non-title bout.
Ever since, he's been intent on earning another shot at the champ, this time with the title on the line. After a 12 year career in mixed martial arts, he wants an opportunity to go out on top.
But first, the Minnesota wrestler will need to get past scrappy European fighter Attila Vegh at Bellator 73 tonight (August 24, 2012) in Tunica, Mississippi. In part one of his interview posted on Wednesday, Wiuff discussed his dramatic 35 pound weight cut.
For part two today, Wiuff spoke to MMAmania.com during a special guest appearance on The Verbal Submission this past Sunday night about his expectations against Attila Vegh, his soft-spoken nature and potentially going out on top in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Ok, this is a complete change of subject. I know that your name is pronounced like "view" or "few" so what I want to know is what is the worst butchering all time of your last name? I ask this because until about a year ago I thought it was pronounced "wi-uff."
Travis Wiuff: Yeah, it's a difficult one and I've never in my entire life met anybody that pronounced it right the first time. It's actually Danish and Irish. Man, I've been called just about everything in the book as far as my last name goes. I think actually when I was fighting in Japan they got it the closest, they've got a similar vocabulary I guess. It's a difficult one.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Another thing, you're so intimidating in person. You're this big hulking presence with all the tattoos, but then you open your mouth and you are so mellow and so cool and calm and relaxed. I would leave a crying baby with you so you could settle it down. How are you so relaxed all the time when you've got all this energy and ferociousness inside you?
Travis Wiuff: (laughs) Well I started wrestling when I was five years old, wrestled all throughout high school and college. The competition is the part I enjoy. All the other stuff outside of that, the hype and that is something I don't really get involved in. I enjoy the competition. Wrestling for so long has calmed me down when it comes to fighting. I've been doing it long enough where I've seen just about everything and did everything in the sport. It's a waste of time for me to get all pumped up and crazy like that before the fight. I've learned to control my energy.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can you talk about your terrific run through this tournament thus far. You destroyed Chris Davis in the quarterfinals and then you completely manhandled Tim Carpenter in your last fight for three rounds and you had no problem fending off his submission attempts. Can you elaborate on this tournament?
Travis Wiuff: Yeah against Chris Davis, I knew he was an athletic guy, comes from somewhat of an athletic background so I knew it could be tougher to get the takedown. I was a bit surprised when I had him against the cage that I wasn't able to take him down right away but I landed a short uppercut, dropped him and finished him on the ground. I was excited about that. It's always good to get a stoppage in any fight but when you're in a tournament, it's even more important the way Bellator has their format. You're fighting every month so a stoppage is great and you stay healthy.
In the second round against Tim Carpenter, he was a different style guy, a black belt on the ground, very good jiu-jitsu. I'm very fortunate I train here in Rochester, Minnesota. I've got a great group of guys and I train with a black belt who's one of the best in the world. Any time I fight a jiu-jitsu guy I feel very confident because I've spent eight years training with him. His name is Mario Roberto and I'm a brown belt under him. He always has me well-prepared. I knew I'd be a lot bigger than Tim. Come fight night, I was about 240 and I don't know if he cut any weight. I was able to control him in the clinch and take him down at will.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I'd like to talk about rehydrating. There aren't many people I know that can put on 35 pounds in 24 hours. How do you do it? Do you use an IV? Are you chugging Pedialyte? Is there some kind of science to rehydrating to get all those nutrients and fluids back into your body?
Travis Wiuff: I have used IVs in the past but I haven't in the Bellator tournament so far. Again, there's no secret to it. I don't like Pedialyte. I'll do Gatorade but the main thing is just water. I'll bring a gallon of water with me to weigh-ins and after weigh-ins, I won't chug it because I'll get sick but I'll just gradually drink water. From weigh-ins to the fight is about 28 hours probably and the water won't leave my hands for those 28 hours or whatever it is. I'll eat some fruit and a couple big meals, maybe some Gatorade but it's just constantly drinking water. I won't stop drinking water right up to the fight. There's no secret to it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Does this ever have a negative affect where you're drinking all this water and you get to the cage and all of a sudden you've "got to go?"
Travis Wiuff: (laughs) No, no, I've never had that problem. I guess with the experience thing, I've been doing it long enough where I can figure things out but I've never had that problem.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know you're very focused on the championship, but you have to get through Attila Vegh first. He fought Emmanuel Newton in the semifinals. It was a close battle but I thought Newton had defeated him. Did you get a chance to watch it and if so, who did you think won?
Travis Wiuff: Yeah I watched it and it was close but I would probably say Emmanuel won the fight. It was really close, though. You never want to leave it in the hands of the judges but I thought Emmanuel won the fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Going in there against Attila Vegh for the tournament finals, he's got this European kickboxing and submission style. Do you feel like he's got the type of fighting style that would just be perfect for your offensive wrestling attack to the point where you could really do some work on him?
Travis Wiuff: Absolutely. I've been fighting these European boxers and European stand-up guys for a long time. I think style-wise, this is a great match-up for me. Don't get me wrong, he's very tough, just look at his record, but I think style-wise, this is a great match-up for me. He throws those wide hooks and those are easy to shoot underneath and take him down.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you have any examples of similar style European fighters that you've battled in your 80+ fight history and can you talk about how those fights went?
Travis Wiuff: Yeah I've faced several throughout the years. I fought Ramazan Akhadullaev in 2005 and what's his name, Ibragim Magomedov, and same thing, they were from Russia. All of them have similar styles where they throw wide looping punches with a lot of power behind them if they connect but if you get in their face, they're very vulnerable for the takedown.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Your clinch has been just brutal in this tournament so far. You get these guys against the fence and you push them, lean on them, put a lot of pressure on their upper body, make them try to support you and carry you. Do you have any kind of tricks or something that completely wears your opponent down when you've got them pressed against the cage?
Travis Wiuff: Most of it comes from wrestling for years and years. I kind of learned it from watching Randy Couture. He was the one that in my eyes invented the clinch, fighting from the clinch and dirty boxing, things like that. I watched a ton of video on him, read books, did everything. I followed his career and when it came to the clinch game, he was the one that was the Godfather. He taught me a lot.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What would it mean for you to win this tournament and be a Bellator champion?
Travis Wiuff: It would be great to win the tournament, but what I entered this tournament for was to be the Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion. The tournament is just my ticket to fight the champion. I didn't get in this tournament just to make it to the finals or win the tournament. I want to fight the champion and I want to become the champion.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of the champion, Bellator light heavyweight champ Christian M'Pumbu has not fought since you beat him last November. It'll be almost a year since he fought. Do you think you kind of did something to him, you broke him mentally a bit with that impressive performance against him?
Travis Wiuff: I definitely think I broke him mentally during the fight and I don't think there's a lot he can do style-wise that he can change. I've been wrestling my whole life and he's not gonna learn enough wrestling in the past year to stop my takedowns and I'm looking forward to the day we meet again.
Travis would like to thank Future Legend, his trainers in Minnesota, Mario Roberto, Jim Richardson and Rafael Butler.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will Wiuff be given an opportunity to repeat history by defeating Vegh tonight? What do you think are his chances of being the next Bellator light heavyweight champion?
If you'd like to listen to the complete audio of our interview with Travis, click here (Interview starts at 31:00 mark).