The late Norman Vincent Peale, author of the 1952 best seller “The Power of Positive Thinking,” had nothing on Davion Franklin.
Here’s an exchange from a recent phone interview with Franklin, an Albuquerque MMA fighter, in advance of his fight on Friday against Marcelo Golm in Tacoma, Washington.
Reporter: “Obviously, you aspire to be the Bellator heavyweight champion …
Franklin: “I am the Bellator heavyweight champion. Come on. Come on, bro. I’m the guy who’s gonna be knocking all these guys out. I’m the guy everybody’s gonna want to see fight.
“I am the world heavyweight champion. I’m gonna be the biggest name in the sport very soon. Why? Because I’m the most exciting heavyweight, that’s why.”
Those words from Franklin might come as a surprise to MMA veteran Ryan Bader, who in fact is the Bellator heavyweight champion. Franklin, just five fights into his pro career – he had no amateur experience – is a distant No. 8 in the Bellator heavyweight rankings.
One must acknowledge, though, that so far, Franklin has walked the walk. He’s 5-0 with three knockouts, having displayed eye-popping power and agility.
Golm (9-3), a former UFC fighter from SÃ£o Paulo, Brazil, likely presents Franklin’s stiffest challenge thus far. And as confident as Franklin is, he’s not given to trash talk.
Asked if a victory over Golm might move him up in the rankings, Franklin said probably not “because he’s not ranked. But I think it does more for my legitimacy. I think this guy, he’s legit. He fought in the UFC. He’s good.
“… Obviously another win on my record, that’s always good, and a win over a legitimate guy, that’s even better. There’s always a good upside in every situation.”
A Chicago native, Franklin wrestled in high school and junior college. Intrigued by MMA, he made the move to Albuquerque to train at Jackson-Wink. Manager Richard Guerrero was equally intrigued with Franklin’s potential and, through Guerrero’s Mata Leon management company, awarded him a “scholarship.”
Franklin doesn’t actually have to go to school, other than that of the proverbial and perpetual hard knocks.
For Franklin, that’s the only course of study right now.
The city of Tacoma, hard by the bigger city of Seattle, offers scenic views of Puget Sound and Mount Rainier.
Franklin, frankly, isn’t interested.
“I barely leave my hotel room (on a fight trip),” he said. “I don’t want to get distracted from what I’m there for.
“I’m not there to go sightseeing. I’m there to go out and whup some ass and take names. That’s what I’m there for. I’m there to go dominate and destroy my opposition.”
Calling himself a student of the game, Franklin said he has studied Golm and has a good read on the Brazilian’s strengths and weaknesses. But always, he said, his plan is simply to disrupt whatever plan his opponent might have.
“I break these guys down,” he said. “I exploit their strengths and weaknesses. But make no mistake about it, I’m more of a problem for these guys than these guys are for me. I guarantee that they have to come up with an actual game plan for me. I’ve just got to go out there and be myself and have fun.
“That’s the difference.”
THE HEAVYWEIGHTS: Don’Tale Mayes (9-4), Franklin’s teammate at Jackson-Wink, is scheduled to face Hamdy Abdelwahab (3-0) on a July 30 UFC card in Dallas.
Juan Adams (10-4), another Jackson-Wink heavyweight, defeated Sam Kei by second-round TKO (ground-and-pound) on a PFL card in Atlanta on June 24.
On the same PFL card, former Jackson-Wink heavyweight Maurice Greene (10-7), who continues to train in Albuquerque, lost by unanimous decision to Denis Goltsov.