Travis Wiuff: “Whoever made the decision to bring me in made a huge mistake”
Veteran ready for Bellator tournament after defeating light-heavyweight champ M’Pumbu
By Kelsey Mowatt
Aside from a knockout loss to former UFC competitor Tim Hague last October, 33 year-old Travis Wiuff has been somewhat quietly going about his business over the last couple of years, demonstrating that the near 80 fight veteran still remains a considerable threat. While his recent successes have perhaps gone unnoticed by some throughout the sport, Wiuff’s unanimous decision win over Bellator Light-Heavyweight Champion Christian M’Pumbu on October 22nd, has likely captured the attention of more than a few observers.
“Any victory is important and obviously the exposure on MTV 2 is good too,” Wiuff told FCF, while discussing his recent win over M’Pumbu, which was a non-title affair. “I was excited to fight for Bellator; I’ve talked to a few other guys and they say they’re a great organization to work for. The win is always good, and being that I fought their champ right off the bat, it’s a great victory for me. Hopefully it will lead to some better things down the road with me and Bellator.”
Since Wiuff was stopped by Stanislav Nedkov, at a Sengoku event in May, 2009, the veteran has now gone 10-1, with 1 no-contest, to extend his overall record to 65-14. Due to the tournament structure of Bellator, the promotion often keeps its champions busy by putting together non-title bouts. Generally speaking, many critics would likely contend, that the fighters who are brought in for the non-title fights are expected to push, but not necessarily defeat Bellator’s champs.
“Absolutely, Bellator, or Christian’s management, whoever made the decision to bring me in made a huge mistake,” said Wiuff, who had been competing as a heavyweight prior to the Bellator 55 bout. “I never imagined dropping down to 205 again, unless the opportunity was outstanding, and I knew Christian didn’t have the wrestling I have and that he’s small for a light-heavyweight. I knew that if I could make the weight the fight would go well.”
“I think the last time I fought at light-heavyweight was my last fight in Japan, for Sengoku, and since then all my fights have been at heavyweight,” the accomplished, former collegiate wrestler added. “I got as high as 280, which isn’t good for me, I shouldn’t be that heavy…I’m maybe 6’2, and I was carrying extra weight that I didn’t need. I think it was a really good thing for me to cut down.”
Unlike some fighters, who undergo the process of dropping to a new weight division over a couple months, Wiuff didn’t have that luxury.
“The cut was very tough; it was probably the hardest thing I ever did, I think I cut around 55 pounds in five weeks,” Wiuff reported. “I was tired in the third round, but I think if it was a title fight, and I had to go two more rounds, I think I could have gone another two. I was getting fatigued, but he was too.”
Through the opening two rounds, Wiuff largely turned to his wrestling skills to take the noted striker to the mat and control the bout from there. In round three, however, M’Pumbu was able to land several punches, and for a few moments, it appeared as though the champion might pull off the come from behind win.
“I felt okay,” said Wiuff, when asked how hurt he was in the third round. “I’ve been at this long enough that when he did knock me down, I kept making eye contact with the ref John McCarthy, and although he was landing some shots I knew that he would slow down. I was just looking to get that single leg and take him down, and eventually he slowed down and I got back on top of him. My experience definitely played a factor.”
Now, having scored a win over the promotion’s light-heavyweight champion, it’s expected that Wiuff will compete in Bellator’s next season’s light-heavyweight tournament, for an opportunity to secure a title fight rematch.
“They asked me to but nothing has been signed yet,” said Wiuff. “I’ll definitely do it, they just need to give me a little bit of notice, as I get pretty heavy and will need to cut some weight again. But Bellator is a great organization, and I’ve fought for a lot of organizations around the world, and if they want me back I’ll be happy to fight for them.”