Bellator’s Travis Wiuff Ready For Tim Carpenter: “I Was Fighting Black Belts Before It Was Cool To Be a MMA Fighter.”
By Kelsey Mowatt
For the last three years, Travis Wiuff has been doing his part to reassert his presence in the MMA world, and along the way, the 80 plus fight veteran has been warning critics and opponents that he’s back on track. In particular, Wiuff has credited a return to his wrestling and a new outlook on fighting, as driving forces behind his resurgence.
Then, last month, Wiuff gave fans further reasons to re-examine his career by stopping Chris Davis in the first round of Bellator’s light-heavyweight quarterfinals. In addition, the win served as a reminder that Wiuff’s path to victory doesn’t necessarily have to come through a double leg takedown.
“Absolutely, especially at light-heavyweight; I’m so much bigger and stronger than these guys,” said the former heavyweight, while discussing the importance of scoring a stoppage win. “I think they forget that I’ve got power behind my punches; I always have, but it’s been against heavyweights, because that’s where I fought for most of my career.”
Of course, as Wiuff mentioned, another key reason for the Minnesota fighter’s more recent success was the decision to move down and compete in the 205 pound division.
“I still consider myself a heavyweight; I’m just cutting a ton of weight to get down to light-heavyweight,” said Wiuff, who made his Bellator debut against light-heavyweight champ Christian M’Pumbu last October and won the non-title affair by unanimous decision. “I still have the power of a heavyweight but I’m fighting guys when I step in the cage that are 30 to 40 pounds lighter than me.”
Wiuff demonstrated that strength by dropping Davis with a short right hand as he had him pinned along the cage.
“I didn’t realize until I watched it; it was just a short quick shot and those are the punches that hurt you,” Wiuff told Full Contact Fighter. “The ones you see coming aren’t the ones that hurt you it’s the ones you don’t see coming…when he dropped I knew I had hit with something, he wasn’t pulling guard because his legs went out from him so quick. When he wasn’t responding on the ground I figured I must have caught him pretty well.”
While a scoring a stoppage win is key anytime it happens, it’s especially valuable in a tourney format which entails fighting approximately every four weeks.
“Finishing an opponent and staying healthy for the next round is just as important as winning the fight,” said Wiuff. “You don’t want to go through a fifteen minute war, banged up with injuries, because a month later you’re going to be fighting again…I came out of it with no injuries; got right back to it.”
Up next, Wiuff (67-14) will hope to advance one step closer to a title fight with M’Pumbu, when he takes on Tim Carpenter (9-1) this Friday in Tampa, Florida.
“I don’t watch a lot of video but I watched a little bit just to get an idea,” said Wiuff about his semifinal opponent. “His ground game looks good. I guess he’s a black belt which doesn’t mean a lot to me, but I respect him as a fighter. He’s obviously pretty talented. He’s a tough guy. He presents some different challenges that my last opponent didn’t.”
Carpenter has won back-to-backs bouts since he was stopped by M’Pumbu last April, and most recently, the accomplished grappler tapped out Beau Tribolet with an armbar to advance to the semis.
“I’m concerned with one belt and that belt says Bellator on it,” Wiuff furthered. “It’s gold and it’s not black. I’ve been fighting black belts for years; I was fighting black belts before it was cool to be a MMA fighter. I think have 80 something pro fights and I’ve been caught I think three times, so I can’t say it doesn’t happen but it rarely happens.”
“I’ve been training for eight years under someone (Mario Roberto) who’s been a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt for 15 years,” Wiuff added, who himself is BJJ brown belt. “The majority of our training together is submission defense. So I’m definitely not afraid of going to the ground.”