by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
While it wasn’t a total surprise that Travis Wiuff defeated Kazuyuki “Iron Head” Fujita at June’s Sengoku event, what was, was the method by which he did it.
Previously known for being able to take quite a fair amount of cranial beating, Fujita was actually knocked out by the previously ground-based Wiuff in just under 90 seconds.
Three months later, Wiuff returns to the promotion eager to prove his last fight was not a fluke and that he’s truly become a more complete fighter as he takes on late replacement Mo Lawal in a heavyweight showdown this coming Sunday in Tokyo, Japan.
“I feel really good,” said Wiuff before boarding his flight to Japan. “I’ve had plenty of time to get ready for this one.
“When I fought (Kazuyuki) Fujita last time I took it on fairly short notice, three weeks, and didn’t have much time to prepare for it. This one I’ve known about for quite a while. I’ve had a change of opponent, but it’s not too much a concern for me.”
Oddly enough, he has not had a multitude of fights since his last action in June.
Always one to take fights on smaller cards on short notice, Wiuff has stepped into a situation where he’s only fighting for one promotion with ample time between fights.
“I’d still take fights in small towns if I could – I love the sport and love to compete – but at this point in my career things are going good, so it’s just continuing to do what I’m doing,” he stated.
“If you consider the YAMMA tournament, this will be my fifth fight of the year, and it wasn’t that long ago that I was fighting 15 to 20 times a year. I think in 2005 I fought 22 times, so it’s definitely different.”
Originally Wiuff was scheduled to face Roger Gracie, but due to an injury, Gracie was forced to drop out of their fight. In steps Mo Lawal, an accomplished amateur wrestler who recently joined the Murrieta, California chapter of Team Quest.
“He’s a phenomenal wrestler,” said Wiuff of his opponent. “He trains at Team Quest (Murrieta), so I’m pretty sure he’s going to come in well prepared; even though it is his first fight.
“You don’t see too many guys from Team Quest who aren’t prepared, so I think it will be a good fight.”
A few years ago this would have been a clash of wrestler versus wrestler, but with his recent work with a new fight team, Wiuff’s skills have allowed him to become more than just a ground specialist.
“I’m very fortunate where I’ve had a chance to train up at Minnesota Martial Arts Academy with Greg Nelson,” he explained. “I definitely don’t consider myself being only a wrestler anymore.
“I feel comfortable standing, using my hands, knees and am even getting comfortable throwing kicks. With the help of Greg I’m even more comfortable than I ever have been.”
Should Travis emerge from this weekend’s fight healthy, he would like to return to Japan sooner than later and continue a roll he’s on that has him currently in the midst of a 10-fight winning streak.
“I’m definitely not looking past Mo, I think he’s going to be a tough opponent, but I’m looking forward to a few more fights this year,” he exclaimed.
Having slowly become more adept at other aspects of the fight game, Wiuff has an opportunity to further ingratiate himself with the Japanese crowd and make something special of his time with the promotion.
“I’d like to thank Warrior Wear and Island Supplements; and my personal Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ – without him nothing is possible,” he closed out. “Keep your eyes open, because it’s only getting bigger and better.
“It’s going to be a great fight. I think I can show, especially in this fight, that I’m more well-rounded than people give me credit for.”