by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
With the first ever installment of the IFL just around the corner, fighters involved with the promotion are preparing to be part of something new and different in MMA. While the IFL may be a new concept, by no means are they banking on non-established talent to lead the way.
Among the veteran fighters that the IFL hopes will help be the foundation of the team-based format is Travis Wiuff, representing the 205-pound position on Pat Miletich’s team, the Silverbacks.
When asked how he became involved with the IFL, Wiuff said that after hearing whispers of the promotion for some time, his manager finally got him involved with the company and with Miletich.
“I’m managed by Monte Cox, and I think he had talked about it over a year ago,” said Travis. “He had mentioned there was a group of people putting together a new concept in MMA… that it would be a team format. It sounded really interesting when he had said it a while ago, but I hadn’t really heard much about it for a long time and then Monte and Pat ended up choosing me for Pat’s team.”
Wiuff has an extensive amateur wrestling background, so the team concept isn’t new to him, and he’s very confident in the team that has been assembled around him.
“I’m excited about it,” commented Travis. “I’m excited just to be affiliated with Pat and the other guys on my team. Obviously, Pat is a legend in the sport and I’m sure the other guys on my team are working hard. It’s kind of a tough position when now you kind of have to rely on four other guys in order to advance to the next round, but I like it. I think I’m on a great team, and I have four great teammates that I feel are really going to do well.”
Wiuff will be facing off against Alex Schoenauer of Bas Rutten’s Anacondas team in a match-up of two former UFC fighters.
Regarding Schoenauer, Wiuff admitted, “I honestly don’t know a lot about him. I haven’t seen any of his fights. I looked up his record and I remember from the reality show, but other than that I don’t know anything about him. There’s not a lot of video out there to get on him. I kind of trained for this fight like I did every other one, just trying to improve in my weaknesses and concentrate on the things that I need to get better.”
As for his preparations, Wiuff – perhaps in a sign of confidence – jokingly said, “For this fight, I found a new method of training. I found the four toughest eighth graders I could find and we’ve been having these mega-over-the-top battle royals on a trampoline. I don’t know what Alex is bringing to the table, but I figure these eighth graders go all-out on the trampoline, so I figure I’m ready for everything if those eighth graders were coming at me full-boar.”
Back on a serious note, Travis added, “It’s the same thing for me. I just train hard and work on my weaknesses and concentrate on cardio and wrestling, stand-up and Jiu-Jitsu. It’s a fight… make sure you’re ready, your hands up, your chin tucked, and bite down on that mouthpiece and see what happens.”
With a new concept in MMA comes new rules, and the IFL has made slight alterations to the rules with which most American MMA fans are familiar. When asked what he thought of the changes, Wiuff seemed very supportive and eager to fight under the modified rules.
“I think it’s going to make a difference in the fight,” exclaimed Travis. “I think fights are actually going to be more exciting because fights aren’t going to be stopped from a cut, especially from elbows. I think stand-ups are going to be pretty quick when the fight does go to the ground if there’s not a lot of work. So, I think it’s going to a really high-paced action event.”
Wiuff added, “Especially with the three four-minute rounds, it’s twelve minutes, and for a person like me, I can keep a pretty high pace for twelve minutes. There could be a lot of flurries, and I don’t think there’s going to be much stalling because you only have twelve minutes to get the job done. I think it’s going to be really exciting.”
Currently, the IFL has two shows set in stone, but future installments are still something of a mystery. Travis feels confident that as long as the Silverbacks do well, he will continue to be very active with the promotion in the coming year.
“I know I fight April 29th and June 3rd, and I’m not sure what comes after that,” admitted Wiuff. “I would venture to say if those two shows do well, I think it’s going to explode. I think once people see it on FSN and it draws a lot more people, I have no doubts I’ll stay very busy with them.”
Travis continued, “The IFL is nice because now I know I have some stability and it’s with a good organization and they’re doing real positive things for the sport. It’s going to be nice once it takes off because it’ll keep me real busy.”
Wiuff closed out the conversation by thanking those who have supported him, and by sending a message to the fans.
“I definitely want to thank my personal lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Without him, nothing would be possible,” concluded Travis. “I want to thank Sprawl. Even though they’re not involved with the IFL, they’ve always helped me. And now Joel Gold is stepping in and helping the IFL, so I want to thank him. I just want people to keep their eyes open for the IFL because it’s going to be real big and exciting. Check it out. It’s going to be a pretty good time.”