by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Team Extreme manager Monte Cox recently announced that Travis Wiuff had signed a deal with Pride, effectively ending his association with the IFL and the Frank Shamrock-coached San Jose Razorclaws.
When asked about the signing, Wiuff confirmed his manager’s comments when he stated, “We signed a three-fight deal. I’ll definitely be on the next PRIDE card in the USA on February 24th. As far as anything else, I don’t really know too much else…I don’t have an opponent, don’t know which weight class – I’m kind of hoping heavyweight, but I’m not sure of anything [at this time].”
Travis continued, “I’m just excited; it’s kind of like a fresh start. I’ve fought in quite a few organizations, like the UFC and the IFL, which was the last one I fought in. I enjoyed fighting for them [the IFL]. They treat fighters great, they treated me great, but it was just something where PRIDE came a long and it was a good opportunity.”
Wiuff joins Joe Doerksen as former IFL fighters to have signed with PRIDE. Doerksen was part of Carlos Newton’s Toronto Dragons, winning both his fights, whereas Travis went 1-2 as part of both the Pat Miletich-coached Quad City Silverbacks and the aforementioned Razorclaws.
One of the reasons Wiuff is excited about his prospects with PRIDE is the opportunity to return to heavyweight, the weight class he was most dominant in, winning an impressive 19 fights in a row from between 2003-05.
“It’s a good fresh start because I tried 205lbs and I personally don’t think it worked out too well,” explained Travis. “Obviously fighting in PRIDE it doesn’t matter what weight class you fight in, you’re going to run into tough guys. So I don’t really think it makes a difference as far as competition but one of the big things I’ve noticed is that guys at heavyweight just fight a lot more differently than guys at 205lbs.”
“Guys at 205lbs are a lot more athletic, agile, and quicker – especially on the ground. Usually I get a heavyweight on the ground and I can control them pretty well. I’d get guys at 205lbs on the ground and they’d be hard to control down there and keep them down. Babalu [Renato Sobral] is a perfect example, I took him down a couple times but I couldn’t control him, he was too elusive, quick and fast,” added Wiuff.
In the heavyweight division Travis feels he can turn the tables and be the quicker, more athletic fighter in any of his match-ups.
“What made me successful when I did beat guys that were more credible was I used my quickness and I’ve always had great endurance,” said Wiuff. “I’ve always got really good conditioning, especially for a heavyweight, and I think I’m just as strong as a lot of heavyweights. The problem we’re running into is that the heavyweights are 6’5″-6’6″ or taller…so it’s just a matter of me changing my style a little bit if I fight those bigger guys and use my quickness and my conditioning to my advantage.”
At one time Travis was one of the best prospects in MMA before hitting a rough patch of luck in the light-heavyweight division. Now given the opportunity to succeed in an environment he’s most comfortable in, Wiuff feels he can once again be one of the most buzzed about fighters in the world and that he’ll definitely be one to watch for in PRIDE.
“I’m definitely excited for PRIDE, it’s something I’ve thought about and didn’t think would come true, so it’s like a dream come true,” exclaimed Travis. “It’s a chance for me to further become a more legitimate professional athlete. I just want to thank Monte and PRIDE for giving me this opportunity.”
“I don’t know how the fights are going to end up, but I know they are going to be exciting fights. I want people to walk away saying, ‘That was a damn exciting fight.’ Regardless if it’s a win or loss for me, I guarantee it’s going to be an exciting fight and I guarantee I’ll have more fans after my fights in PRIDE,” concluded Wiuff.