Travis Wiuff is a mixed martial artist who competed in the UFC, Pride, IFL and Bellator en route to being one of only a few individuals to have 100 professional bouts. He has won championships for several organizations in several weight classes since his debut back in 2001.
Travis Wiuff: Well, how have you been? How has uh how’s this whole pandemic been on you and your family um? You know, honestly, it hasn’t changed a lot for me um, i’m, not a big people person. I i i work at a high school with with uh special, ed kids and when we got closed down last march or whatever we kind of just went to um, you know online. I continue to help kids through the end of the school year and then um once summer hit we, you know, i continue to train and then that’s really about all. I do i’ve. I’Ve got two daughters, i take care of them and – and i don’t do a lot else – i work out and that’s about it. So i you know the gyms. I live in minnesota. The gyms closed for probably six weeks, two months but uh there’s all kinds of things to do. There’S you know a lot of wrestlers. I know have gyms and stuff, so i worked out with them and a lot. It really didn’t change too much for me. What’S what’s it like being a teacher who uh you know, has a hundred pro fights, i mean i’m sure the kids look at you very different than they would other teachers yeah. It definitely comes in handy. Sometimes i definitely use it to my benefit. At the same time, i i’ve learned a lot over those hundred fights and 20 years of doing it. So it’s uh, i’ve learned a lot and i’ve learned um working with a lot of different people, and i think a lot of it has helped me to where i what i do today. What’S this um, i read an article and it was a co-met thing that you did over the summer is that is that a way to to give back to the community to help kids stay fit? What what’s the purpose of it, and how long have you been doing it? I think this is my sixth or seventh year doing it um yeah, it’s just a summer training camp i run for kids. I we live in a i live in a small town. It’S about five six thousand people and i’m the strength coach at the high school. I work at and um. You know it’s just a basic. It’S a basic training camp to keep kids busy during the summer and and it’s kind of taken off and we’ve had probably 150 kids. The past past couple summers. So it’s it’s! It keeps me busy in the summer and it keeps the kids busy. So it works out well, for both of us was there any modifications that need to be done because the pandemic, i’m sure they have a whole lot of kids. Quite a few i mean we have to change different locations quite a few times. As far as you know, we couldn’t be in the weight room at the school and we couldn’t even be on school grounds for a while, but we just adapted, we changed. We we moved equipment around and probably by like uh july, we were back in the weight room at the school, so there was about five weeks six weeks where we, you know, we were outside more, which i thought was fine. We moved equipment outside and you know, kids are, are pretty adaptable. You know they’ll change to to really anything, and it was more a matter of me changing my workouts and i they’ll pretty much do whatever i tell them. So i’d write something down. They’D go. Do it, and by july, we’re back in the weight room and nothing really changed? I want to talk uh talk now about your career. It’S really um quite special. What you’ve done. I mean you’re. Only a one of a handful of people who have reached 100 fights. How does it feel to be kind of mentioned there with all those guys that travis fulton’s there’s only a handful of you that have done it? How does it feel to to be mentioned? Among those people, i don’t know, i guess i it uh makes me feel old. I mean i make me realize i’ve been doing this a long time, and i i mean i i definitely take a lot of uh a lot of pride in it. You know having a hundred fights and and, like you said, travis fulton, uh and dan severn jeremy horn. I mean those guys when i started were guys. I looked up to and there’s a few others out there, so it it definitely um. I’M definitely very proud of it um. At the same time, i don’t, i don’t feel like i’ve had 100 fights like, i think about it, sometimes or i’ll look at like sure, dog or whatever and i’m like god. I’Ve been doing this a long time but physically. I feel good, you know, i probably don’t have a hundred more in me but uh. I still feel pretty good. So it’s it’s funny because i mean i’m i’m 25 and if you, if you put like, if you put a hundred like you’re, like you, remember a hundred days of your life, i’m gon na be like no. No, i can’t even do that. Is there like? Looking back at your career, if so, if i mention a fighter, do you remember the specific fight like, or rather you drown out? No, i think i remember every one of them. Um yeah, i’m pretty sure i’d. Remember every one of them. I mean every one of them: everyone was kind of a different story: um i’ve given like speeches and and talks to athletes and high schools and stuff like that and um. When i’m coming up with like uh things to talk about, like that’s one of the things i’ll do is i’ll go through my list of fights and everybody every one of them’s got a story here. You know some stories are better than others and stuff like that. So yeah, i think i could probably remember everyone at uh at what point did you realize like? Let’S, let’s go for a hundred like what was it like, 50 60 fights in or where you’re like? You know what i may as well just aim for 100, or was it just let’s just keep fighting it was like when i got to in the 90s, like i didn’t even didn’t, even think about it like for a long time there. I was fighting a lot like ten years ago: eight yeah eight ten years ago, man, i was fighting like nine ten times a year and they just racked up, but you didn’t even have time to think about it. You know and as i’ve gotten older and just haven’t had as many opportunities then you know once i got into the 90s, then i started to realize, like man, i’m really close to 100., when you’re fighting that frequently i mean you see it even in the ufc With guys like donald cerrone, and he only fights five five times a year, i can’t imagine 10 or 11. – i’m sure there’s a lot of times where you’re going in there, with with nagging injuries and stuff like that, was there what was the worst injury you had Going into a fight i fought in louisiana, this was like 2005 probably and i broke my hand, training for the fight. It was a four-man tournament. There’S a couple tough guys in and uh jared hammond ended up winning. He fought the ufc. He was a really tough guy, but i was when i was training for it. I fought, i broke my hand and i didn’t want to pull out of the fight because it was paying pretty well and i just back, then you just didn’t pull out a fight. So he’s just something you didn’t do so there wasn’t athletic commissions or anything back then, and i remember i taped my hand. It was like a club like we completely taped it like. I couldn’t grip, nothing. It was just like a big ball of tape and i won my first round fight and i just took the guy down and submitted him with something, and i thought jared hammond like i said he fought in the ufc. He did pretty well and um. He freaking just was pounding on me like i couldn’t take him down. I only had one hand my conditioning wasn’t good because i hadn’t been training like i should have, because all i could really do was run and uh. I just remember i remember he kept hitting me and hitting me and i, if i was smarter, i just would have went down, but i was i was just stubborn. I wouldn’t go down, he just kept pounding on me and there was nothing i could do. I was, i had like one hand, and i don’t know it’s just crazy things like that yeah, it’s insane. I was going through your list and i’m like man. He fought everybody. I mean keith start you’re, like you fought keith jardine, really early on in your career. Um i mean which is insane to think about, like it was your fourth or fifth fight and you’re fighting yeah, looking back a guy like keith jardy and you won. Is there one fight that stands out more than others where you’re like wow? I beat that guy reflecting back on it or are they all, probably probably the first time i fought in japan, i fought kazuki uh, um, kazuki, fujita and um back then he was like he was tough. I mean he was one of the top guys in the world and um my manager called me. It was really short notice. It was like maybe a week’s notice and at the time fujita was like a legend in japan, especially and um. I’M like i was managed by monty cox, who’s, a legendary manager in the sport and like ronnie. I don’t know if i could take the fight. It’S like we’re flying home like three days like it’s like we can. They pay like 50 grand and i’m like okay i’ll, do it like. I didn’t even care and we got to japan and i uh i knocked you out with and back the time he was. He was known as his iron head, like nobody had knocked him out. Like he had beaten kerr, he beat shamrock. He was one of the top guys and, and i went into it, it was like he was at uh saitama super arena and the place was packed like 30 000 people and and uh first jab. I threw like just a little baby, jab and boom. I knocked him out and the whole place. I mean they’re, quiet anyways, but the whole place like was like silent and i honestly didn’t know what to do. I was like 30 000 people and i was probably the most shocked person in the arena. I never meant to knock like fujita like that. Was this unheard of, and i did it like a little baby, jab just caught him in the right spot so that one always kind of pops into my head yeah! It’S it’s funny! When i look at your career and you’d go on tears, where you would win like 10 12 13 14 fights in a row, was there a point where you’re like man, i want to get to the ufc again or go to a bellator. I know you had the one fight in in the ufc: was it always a dream of yours to to maybe get back there one day or or was that never a priority? For you i mean. Obviously i think anybody that that competes and makes martial art. That’S the goal i mean um i’d be mine, i mean i still train, i still fight. I wish i was fighting more. I mean obviously that’s still my goal, like that’s the ultimate goal for anybody that steps in the cage um back then like when i fought in ufc 40 and i fought in ufc 52 back, then it was like a big deal to fight in the ufc like There was not a lot of people doing it nowadays i mean a lot of people are getting opportunities and rightfully so, but there’s just a lot more chances. You know, there’s a ton more shows and just so many more opportunities like back then 2002 2003 around there, like they were doing ufcs like once a month like it was. It was a huge deal to fight in the ufc back then not say that it isn’t. Now but it was just different back then: what’s the uh, what’s the biggest change you’ve noticed, i mean as someone who fought in the early 2000s as well as someone who fought most recently in 2019, i mean 19 years. I’M sure you’ve seen a lot of change. Both in the fighters and yeah in the industry itself, what’s the biggest thing that that’s changed for you just that, like back when, when i started like all you had to know, is wrestling yeah, you didn’t have to know any jiu-jitsu boxing i mean you had to Be in shape and you had to be a good wrestler and for the longest time that’s all i did that’s all i was i was always in shape and, and i was a good wrestler and nowadays everybody knows everything like every every kid knows jiu-jitsu and they Wrestle since they’re little kids and they’ve boxed and now kids are like experts at everything i mean back. Then it was. It was very like you only needed no wrestling yeah. Now it’s everybody knows everything getting to compete. Nowadays i mean i’ve had to adapt to like i’ve. I’Ve got to learn how to box better. I’Ve got to learn how to do better. Jiu jitsu, i think that’s what i love most about mixed martial arts. I i do a little bit of jiu jitsu, but nothing else not nowhere near going into a cage. I don’t like getting hit, but i think that’s one of the things i’ve noticed is there’s always room to grow. I mean you can always learn. You can learn from the white belts, you can learn from the belts and i think that’s what really stands apart from from so many other sports, i mean in basketball, you you plateau and mixed martial arts, there’s always a new element to learn. Absolutely i think the biggest thing i respect now is boxing, like literally like you, you said 19 years. I’Ve been doing this and, like i appreciate boxing so much and appreciate boxers, so especially like the higher level guys like the elite guys, those guys are unbelievable, like i have so much respect for those guys, it’s amazing what they can do. You’Ve spent a lot of time working with so many people in so many disciplines was there one person that stood out whether due to athleticism whether it was strength? Was there one person that you’re like man, that guy is a freak um tim sylvia was really impressive. Just he uh, he was such a hard worker and he he was such a nice guy too, like he. I think a lot of people give him, don’t give him the credit he deserves as far as a fighter, but as a person too like i would go down down to iowa and he’d. Let me live with him and we trained together and uh. His his take on defense was so good. He was so hard to take down and he got so good with his jab and his i mean he beat so many tough guys and – and i don’t think he probably gets the credit he deserves, but he he was a great heavyweight yeah. I think he’s a. I think he’s a ufc hall of famer and i’m surprised he’s not in there. I’M like this. Guy is not only that i mean he’s huge he’s, one of the biggest guys. I think i’ve ever competed in the ufc he’s very, very big, very, very impressive. A lot of impressive wins: um one of his opponents, uh former opponents, frank mir. His daughter just announced that she’s uh going to compete in mma as someone who has two daughters of your own. What’S your thoughts on on you know your kids following your legacy and what would your advice be to to um to kids? I guess who who want to take that road? I get that question a lot like younger kids. You know like they send me messages on instagram like how do i get into mixed martial arts, i’m like don’t do it like go to school and then go to college and get your degree and obviously i’m a big. I love wrestling. I coach wrestling i’m and i tell kids to wrestle all the time, but you know in if good get a good job go to college, get a good job and then, if you want to do some jujitsu do some jujitsu or some boxing or some. You know. There’S wrestling clubs um and then, if you still want to fight, then maybe look and get look at getting into it. I think people see like ufc on tv and they think that these guys are making all of them are making millions and million dollars and – and it doesn’t work like that for most of them you know, there’s obviously some that are but um i mean it’s a Hard hard business like there’s, not a lot of money involved and there’s a lot of time, a lot of commitment involved. As i mean we see it on tv there’s so many issues right now in mma, whether it’s the judging whether it’s the reffing. What is the biggest change that you would make as someone who’s fought for so long and kind of seen it all from a fighter’s perspective? What’S the one thing that you wish they had done better? Oh man, that’s a good question! Um! You know nothing really. I think i really enjoy the sport the way it is now uh um i mean it’s changed quite a bit. The rules have changed, but i think right now is the best version of of mixed martial arts, as we’ve ever seen. I i think i think the sport right now is is in is in good hands. I’Ll. Ask you one last question and then i’ll, let you go um. You have 100 fights. How many more are left in you. Are you looking to go for 350, like travis fulton or what is the goal? You know, i don’t really have a number, no more. That was my goal to get to 100 and see you know, and i feel really good. I feel better now than i ever have i i really wish i was competing more. I wish i was fighting more obviously with the pandemic that slowed everything down. I hope to still fight this year, um, but i mean i still feel really good. I i obviously and i’m i’m a self-aware man like i realize i can’t compete with the top 10 ufc’s top 10 heavyweights in the ufc, probably even the top 20., but there’s still a lot of guys out there. I can beat there’s, there’s still a lot of heavyweights out there. I can be there’s still a lot of money. I could. I could make um, so i still want to compete. I still want to fight, but at the same time i realize i’m i’m not going to be beating. You know the top guys in the world, no more so um. I don’t get offered fights as much as i used to um, but i uh i wish i was fighting a lot more all right. Man, i’ve been a fan for for a long time and even if i’m missing a fight, i’m scrolling through to see if you’ve had another one of the list been watching, you hoping you got to 100. So i’m glad you made it man glad you got 100. thanks for coming on, and i wish you all the best thanks man take care good talk to you.