Bellator 254: Davion Franklin on Finding His Purpose, WWE Tryout

Davion Franklin Bellator
Davion Franklin vs. Ras Hylton Credit: Bellator MMA

Davion Franklin takes on Anthony Garrett at Bellator 254 on December 10. This collision goes down at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, and broadcasts on CBS Sports Network. That main card placement comes after Goiti Yamauchi missed weight for his fight with Nate Andrews, leading to its cancellation.

Davion Franklin enters this contest unbeaten in back to back Bellator MMA outings. He looks to make it three straight here before closing out 2020.

Below are several excerpts from my recent conversation with the rising heavyweight prospect.

Davion Franklin vs Anthony Garrett

On opponent Anthony Garrett

“I think he’s a wrestler and that’s all I think of him. He wrestles. I’m not going to underestimate him. I’ve learned my lesson from underestimating people. I’m expecting him to bring his all and I’m expecting him to try to put up a challenge. I’m not expecting him to give up. I can’t really say anything too bad about him but I know what I bring to the table and I’m expecting the victory.”

I’d seen a prior interview where you describe yourself as your biggest enemy.  I believe you described it as someone getting in the way of their own blessings. I’m kind of wondering, was there an epiphany moment that got you out of that pattern there or was it just a gradual process of making meaningful lifestyle changes?

“There was definitely an epiphany moment. I think I was at my lowest point where like I just didn’t really know my purpose. Everybody who had ever taken a chance with me, I kind of let them down. I really had to question myself. I asked myself ‘Where’s my life going?’ like, I’m 24 years old.”

Davion Franklin

“I still have a whole lot of athleticism to me. Like I would still go play football and basketball and just be beasting and do so well.. Made a decision to try MMA but not really give it the full shot… Jackson-Wink sent me an animated e-mail saying they want me on the amateur team. I was working a job in a factory.”

“I’ve always just thought like I should be doing something better with my life. I’m too young to be doing this. And then my boss. He was always talking bad about MMA. I was talking to my coworker. ..My boss is like ‘I don’t care about MMA. Why do you want to get punched in the face?’.”

Bellator 254

“I just kind of became a target for him just to kind of ridicule and just kind of pick on a little bit. I just remember like I got that e-mail from Jackson Wink. And my boss like he was trying to find a reason to light me up.”

“I don’t know he wrote me up and something just told me just leave. The next day after he wrote me up, I put in my two weeks notice. And I just drove to Albuquerque with like two paychecks coming in and I had maybe like $150…I just started my journey. And it worked out.”

Bellator MMA

Davion Franklin’s overall assessment of his last performance against Ras Hylton

“Looking back, I definitely wish that I was a lot more controlled. I think what I’m learning is fighters all have egos and I think I had an ego coming in.”

Davion Franklin continued, “my first fight ever was in Bellator and I was kind of feeling myself. Bellator they pay me well, they treat me good, and I’m a young man, and I’m just like, I’m just exuding a lot of confidence and before my first fight with JW Kiser, I said publicly I would finish him in the first round, and I’m finished him in the first round.”

Franklin learned a key lesson when he went the distance with Hylton and the first round finish didn’t materialize.

Davion Franklin’s brush with WWE

“I was actually recruited by WWE my freshman year of college when I qualified for the national tournament. Obviously I’m built, or whatever and I was young. Gerry Briscoe reached out to me. It was there in Spokane, Washington. He was there and I knew who he was. I followed WWE growing up as a kid, and that was like one of my childhood dreams to be a pro wrestler. But the older I got, people were always making fun of me for liking me and I just kind of grew out of it. So like I was 19 when I got in contact with Gerry Briscoe.”

Briscoe to Booker

“After some things happened with my football career. Gerry Briscoe sent me to Houston to train with Booker T. When I got to Houston, to train with Booker T. I was under the impression that my training would be for free. And when I met Booker T, he was telling me that I had to pay for training. And to me in my head at the time, he was rude.”

“I mean, looking back, he just was a super straightforward guy and I guess I don’t know if I rubbed him the wrong way…I was supposed to get myself in shape. And I think this was probably November of 2014 and January 21st of 2015.”

Davion Franklin promos at the Performance Center

“I was supposed to have my WWE tryout at the Performance Center in Orlando, where William Regal, A-Train… Came into the tryout completely unprepared. Was the youngest guy there.”

“I had a tryout and the moment I blew it was when they had me cut a promo in front of everybody. Randy Orton was there, there was a couple of big names there. And they had me speak in front of a green screen while everybody’s watching me, the camera’s in my face. Literally like I just dropped the ball. My ears started ringing. It was bad. But yeah, that was my experience. That was pretty much the extent of it.”

For more from Davion Franklin, check out our full interview above, as well as his Bellator 254 media day appearance.