Photo courtesy Bellator
Mixed martial artists can be so quick to claim they're willing to fight anyone that the mere use of the phrase can cause their words to go in one ear and out the other.
For veteran Travis Wiuff, though, "I'll fight anyone" is a motto he's lived by.
Since making his professional debut in Sept. 2001, Wiuff has 81 pro fights under his belt. He's competed in 18 states, two provinces, and five countries on three continents.
Oh, and in case you think he's just a name trying to hang on and grab a paycheck here and there, he's 21-3 with a no-contest in his past 25 fights.
So the prospect of fighting three times this summer doesn't exactly faze the native of Owatonna, MN. Wiuff (66-14-1) returns to action Friday night when he meets Alabama's Chris Davis (10-3) in the quarterfinals of the Bellator Summer Series light heavyweight tournament in Chester, WV.
"This is what I do for a living," said the fighter nicknamed "Diesel." "I love what I do. If I have to fight three times, I mean, it's not like I've never done this before."
Wuiff's resume reads like a history of the MMA business. Not only has he competed in promotions like the UFC, PRIDE, and IFL, but also for a string of one-hit wonders like YAMMA (where he was the first and only "Pit Fighting" tournament champion) and Moosin.
"Here's the thing for me," said Wiuff. "Bellator's professional. My plane tickets arrived on time, my hotel room's taken care of, you know the card will go down as scheduled. The checks are on time and they've cleared. I can't say that about everywhere I've fought. When you're in the position in my career that I'm in, you appreciate a company that does things right."
Wiuff brings an interesting angle to the 205-pound tournament, as he already owns a victory over the reigning Bellator light heavyweight champion, Christian M'Pumbu, a unanimous decision in a non-title bout at October's Bellator 55.
But Wiuff says he didn't have any problem going into the Bellator tourney.
"This is how they do things here, and I'm OK with that," said Wiuff. "I don't expect to get any preferential treatment or to jump to the front of the line. You have to win a Bellator tournament to get a title shot, so that's what I plan on going out and doing."
Friday night's event kicks off Bellator's three-card 2012 Summer Series. A July 20 event in Tampa will feature the welterweight tourney final between Bryan Baker and Karl Amoussou and an August 24 event, location TBD, features the light heavyweight tourney finals, as well as a featherweight title bout between champ Pat Curran and Patricio "Pitbull" Freire.
For his part, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney says the main draw of the light heavyweight tournament is that it features eight more or less evenly matched fighters.
"We're coming around on filling out our higher-weight rosters," says Rebney. "I don't think it's a secret our deepest divisions are the lower weights, the 145s and 155s. But matchmaker Sam Caplan is working on signing light heavyweight talent. What I think fans who tune in will see is competitive matchups and thus the potential for exciting fights."
Which is what Wiuff plans on giving. The way he sees it, Wiuff has several more years of pro fights left in him, which could potentially put him up there with the likes of Jeremy Horn (115 fights) among the most experienced fighters of the Unified Rules era.
"I'm a wrestler," said Wiuff, a former junior college All-American. "Wrestlers learn how to take care of themselves. There's a reason why wrestlers last as long as they do in a sport as tough as MMA. The way things are going, I don't see why I can't do this another four or five years."
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