by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Since the purchase of Pride by Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, earlier this year, many fighters have been left in limbo, unable to fight due to their contract situations. There are some, however, that have been able to stay active since the buyout.
Fighters who came into Pride this year or had separate contracts with other promotions have been able to keep busy, among them heavyweight/cruiserweight/light-heavyweight wrestler Travis “Diesel” Wiuff.
Over the course of the last few months Wiuff has been fighting in smaller shows, mainly in the blossoming Texas MMA scene. Now he seeks to take a step towards returning to the bigger promotions as he goes after the IFO Light-Heavyweight Championship this coming Saturday in Las Vegas for Richard Steele’s Steele Cage Promotions.
“I’m excited about it, excited to be fighting in Vegas, in front of a large crowd again,” exclaimed Travis. “Obviously, Richard Steele, everyone knows him from boxing, and I’m excited to be involved in his promotion.”
“Just judging by his first show, it was excellent, and I’m excited to be part of the second show and become a champion in his organization,” continued Wiuff.
On Saturday night, Travis will be squaring off against UFC veteran Sean Salmon, who replaced the originally scheduled Chris Price just over a week before the fight was set to take place.
“It’s really not that big of a deal,” said Wiuff of the late change in opponent. “I didn’t know a lot about Chris Price, and I don’t know a lot about Sean Salmon, and I haven’t been focusing my training on any specific opponent as of yet, so, it’s not too big of a deal.”
Travis continued, “Sean Salmon is a good fighter, and a much better wrestler than Chris Price is, that changes things a little bit, but not too much.”
Recently Wiuff has been fighting at cruiserweight, a newer weight class with a 235-pound weight limit, after having mixed success at light-heavyweight following years of dominance in the heavyweight division.
As Travis explains, earlier lamentations about the 205-pound weight class have been replaced by newly found optimism.
“I think I kind of jumped the gun after my fight in Pride [against James Lee] and I got caught, and I was quick to say, ‘I will never fight at 205 again,'” explained Wiuff. “It’s definitely a weight class that I’m a little bit more suited for as far as my body type.”
“The cut’s not fun, but it’s definitely doable and I definitely feel good once I get down there. So, it’s just a matter of a little bit of sacrifice and staying away from things I should stay away from,” further commented Travis.
After re-hydrating, Wiuff could come into the fight as heavy as 220 pounds, which he feels could be a factor in the fight.
“I think the biggest advantage I’m gonna have is my size,” explained Travis. “I think he’s small at 205 and I know I’m a pretty big 205-pounder.”
Not only is the weight advantage in Wiuff’s corner, but he feels he can more than handle the grappling and striking aspects of the fight. Even more advantageous will be the amount of preparation he’s putting into the fight, as opposed to the limited window Salmon has had.
“My wrestling’s not that bad,” commented Travis. “That’s kind of my background as well, I don’t know if it is as good as his, but I’m not a bad wrestler, I think I can hang in there. I think my stand-up is a lot better than his, [as] it doesn’t look like his technique for striking is too refined.”
Wiuff added, “I’ve been training hard, I’ve known about this fight for a long time [and have trained accordingly], he’s just going to have about over a week to train for it, so, I’ll definitely have some advantages in the fight and I’m going to make sure I take advantage of those.”
Should all go well in the IFO this Saturday, Wiuff hopes the exposure he’ll get fighting in Vegas again will attract the bigger promotions’ attention, and in the process give him another chance to shine on a national stage.
“[I want to] get back into the bigger shows, but not only get back to them, but fight well in them,” exclaimed Travis. “I think I’ve fought in the UFC, Pride, IFL and I don’t think I fought well in any of them.”
“So it’s not only a matter of getting back into them, but getting back into them and doing well, and proving to people that I can do well in this sport. I believe in myself and I want to start making other people believe [in me too],” added Wiuff.
When Steele Cage Promotions puts on their second show this Saturday in Las Vegas, Wiuff urges fans not only check out the show, but specifically keep their eyes peeled for him as he and Sean Salmon lock horns for the IFO’s Light-Heavyweight Championship.
“Definitely come out the show at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Vegas,” said Travis. “It’s going to be a great show.”
“I want to thank Monte [Cox, Manager] for all his help; and my personal Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for everything he does for me. I’ll just go out there, do my thing and see what happens,” concluded Wiuff.