by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy of IFL/April Pishna)
This past weekend’s IFL event in Moline, Iowa could easily be perceived as a turning point in the career of Travis “Diesel” Wiuff.
After having dominated much of his career, Wiuff found himself in the unfamiliar spot of having lost three in a row and being forced to have to go into the process of rebuilding. All that changed when he received an unexpected phone call.
On the other end of that call was MMA legend Frank Shamrock. Looking for a last-minute replacement heavyweight fighter for his IFL team, the Razorclaws, Shamrock approached Travis with an offer, which Wiuff gladly accepted and ultimately cultivated into his dominating win over Wojtek Kaszowski of Carlos Newton’s Dragons.
MMAWeekly spoke with Travis shortly after returning home from the IFL to discuss the unlikely process of how he became a Razorclaw, his interaction with Coach Frank Shamrock and where he sees his future headed.
MMAWeekly: First off Travis, tell us how you ended up on the Razorclaws after having been part of Pat Miletich’s Silverbacks during the last season of the IFL.
Travis Wiuff: It was pretty crazy. I had something at the end of the month, so I was preparing for that and one day I was sitting around the house and got a call from Frank Shamrock. Being a huge fan of the sport that I am, having never spoken to him before he called me, I didn’t believe it, I had to ask him a few times if it was really him. It happens that his heavyweight [Dwayne Compton] that was supposed to be on his team didn’t pass his eye exam so Shannon Knapp passed my name on to Frank to be a replacement. He called me up and asked me, I was definitely willing to do it and it went well.
MMAWeekly: So you had no inclination that was happening, you were just hanging out, the phone rings and it’s Frank Shamrock on the line?
Travis Wiuff: Yeah, it blew my mind; it really didn’t sink in at first. Obviously I’ve seen Frank’s fights and was a huge fan but the last thing I expected was for Frank to call me on a Wednesday night and ask me to be on his team. I was definitely shocked but very excited.
MMAWeekly: It’s kind of ironic that Frank’s fighter had eye problems; I recall you had a similar issue that prevented you from fighting not too long ago.
Travis Wiuff: Yeah, that happened before my fight with Babalu [Renato Sobral] in Vegas [for UFC 52]. I barely passed my eye exam, I passed it, but it was close. I’ve had problems with that before. I had problems with it in Atlantic City, but it worked out this time.
MMAWeekly: Being a late replacement, did you have any opportunity to work with Frank before your fight?
Travis Wiuff: I’ve been working a lot on my boxing, trying to improve my striking and once I got to Moline and started to work with Frank we set up a great gameplan. He made it really easy for me to learn from him, which is hard for me to do; I don’t pick up on things really easy, especially when it comes to striking and boxing. He gave me some really good tips and advice and it clicked immediately. He made everything very easy for me.
MMAWeekly: Of course it’s got to feel good to get back to winning after having had a rough stretch this year.
Travis Wiuff: Yeah it’s actually been a long time…I lost my last three fights and my last win was in February of this year so it was a long time coming. Those three fights I lost were very close in different ways so it was great to get a huge monkey off my back and get a win and get back on track. It was also great to get back on track with the IFL as well. I had lost my first two fights for them and Kurt Auto and everybody at the IFL were more than supportive to bring me back and give me one more shot and it turned out well.
MMAWeekly: I know the question got presented to you at the post-fight press conference about your status with the Razorclaws. As far as you know it, where are things at with you and that team?
Travis Wiuff: As far as I know I’m going to be on Frank’s team. One of the reports asked him what my situation was, we looked at each other and he asked me if I wanted to be on his team and I said, “Of course.” I’m just happy to be part of the IFL. It’s a great organization, the best organization I’ve worked with as far as treatment of the fighters. I’m even more excited to part of Frank’s team and be able to improve.
MMAWeekly: So now that you are a Razorclaw there comes the possibility next season to face the team you were with on season one, the Silverbacks. Do you look at that possible match-up with any anticipation or is it just another team for you to face?
Travis Wiuff: They’re just another team. They’re obviously great and both the light-heavyweight and heavyweight fighters for them are excellent fighters. I definitely don’t hold any grudge against any of those guys. I get along with them really well. I hung out with them out a lot when I was on the team and even when I wasn’t, like this weekend. It’s still good to see them and I definitely don’t hold any animosity towards anyone at all [on the Silverbacks]. I’m just looking at it like any other fight, they’ve got to get paid, I’ve got to get paid, we go in there and take care of business and whatever happens, happens.
MMAWeekly: With the Razorclaws eliminated from this season’s World Team Championship where does that put you at as far as competing, do you wait until next year or do you try to get in a few fights before the end of the year?
Travis Wiuff: I’m not really sure what’s going to happen right now. As far as the Razorclaws they’re done until 2007, but as far as this year I definitely want to fight again, at least twice. I’d love it if it was for the IFL perhaps in a couple superfights or something like that. If the IFL says I can go fight elsewhere then I’d like to go out and get a couple more fights and continue on the winning track and once 2007 come around get back on the Razorclaws with Frank and take care of business in the IFL.
MMAWeekly: Thanks as always for your time Travis. Is there anything you’d like to say as we close out the interview?
Travis Wiuff: I want to thank the IFL for letting me come back and I want to thank Frank Shamrock for giving me an opportunity to compete on his team. I want to thank Monte [Cox, Wiuff's manager], I definitely couldn’t have gotten this if wasn’t for him…a lot of people don’t give him credit, but I definitely appreciate everything he does for me. I also want to thank Shannon Knapp and Joel Gold for supporting the IFL and hooking me up with all the gear I’m wearing right now.
To the fans, just keep your eyes on me. I’m going to keep training and continue to work on my striking. Once my boxing gets to where my wrestling is it’s going to be scary and exciting. It’s going to be a fun year in 2007 and definitely going to keep your eyes on the IFL and the Razorclaws, it’s going to be the next big thing in MMA.