Sports

Rick Wright: We get more reminders that experience counts


Aaron Pico, left, is shown in his victory over Adli Edwards during a 150-pound contract weight match at the Bellator 277 on April 15 in San Jose, California. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Confidence is great, talent even better. But, more often than not, experience wins.

Last Friday in Tacoma, Washington, Albuquerque-based MMA heavyweight Davion Franklin became exhibit A – losing by third-round submission to Brazil’s Marcelo Golm on a Bellator card.

There’s no denying Franklin’s talent, which he amply displayed in his first five fights, all victories, and at many moments during the Golm fight. Confidence? During a pre-fight phone interview with the Journal, he pronounced himself Bellator’s heavyweight champion in waiting – somehow managing to do so without sounding the least bit obnoxious.

Ultimately, though, it was Golm’s advantage in experience that turned the tide and got the Brazilian’s hand raised. The former UFC fighter is now 11-3.

Chances are Franklin’s first loss won’t be his last, which is no commentary on his talent, his potential or his chances of one day wearing that Bellator title belt.

It’s simply reality. Just look at the careers of two of Franklin’s Jackson-Wink teammates, Aaron Pico and Christian Edwards.

They, like Franklin, entered the Bellator ranks with little or no prior experience but flashed enormous potential. And they, like Franklin, hit major stumbling blocks.

Pico, an amateur wrestling prodigy, lost three of his first seven Bellator fights – all to fighters with far more experience. Neither Bellator nor the UFC believes in bringing along young prospects slowly, as the major boxing promoters do.

Edwards, like Franklin, won his first five fights and looked terrific doing it – drawing comparisons as a light heavyweight to his former Jackson-Wink teammate Jon Jones.

But Edwards has lost his last two fights, against opponents who’d had more experience, amateur and/or pro, and who exposed holes in Edwards’ game.

Franklin and Edwards can take encouragement, though, from Pico, who now has won six fights in a row and might well be just one more victory from a Bellator featherweight title shot.

Confidence, talent, experience: a combat-sports triple threat. For Franklin and Edwards, the quest is just beginning.

ON TO TULSA: Five New Mexico amateur boxers will advance to Golden Gloves nationals, scheduled for Aug. 15-20 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after Colorado-New Mexico regional competition last weekend in Denver.

They are: Teresa Day, 106 pounds, Hobbs; Sharahya Moreu, Albuquerque, 139; Samantha Girithan, Las Cruces, 146; Eric Silva, Rio Rancho, 189; and Leroy Clark, 203, Albuquerque.

Girithan, Silva and Clark won their bouts in Denver. Day and Moreu advanced via walkover.

Moreu was denied another shot at Colorado’s Heather Cirka, who defeated her by disputed split decision the week before at the USA Boxing Summer Festival in Wichita, Kansas. Cirka withdrew from regionals, citing COVID-19 in her family.

In keeping with our “experience counts” theme, Peralta’s Alexa Garrobo lost by decision in Denver to Colorado’s Lupe Gutierrez at 125 pounds. It was Garrobo’s 11th amateur bout. Gutierrez is listed on boxrec.com as having 42 bouts and might have twice that many.

It was Garrobo’s second amateur defeat.

BROWN’S BACK: Albuquerque MMA fighter Amber Brown is scheduled to return to the cage on Friday after a hiatus of more than three years.

Brown (7-6), who trains at FIT-NHB, is matched against Pauline Macias on an LFA card in Commerce, California. The card is scheduled to be streamed on UFC Fight Pass, starting at 8 p.m.

Brown told Mika Frankl of cagedminds.com that a serious knee injury, coupled with personal matters, had kept her out of the cage.

“I’m excited to be back,” she said. “It’s been too long.”

A PENN IN EVERY POT: UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn, who briefly lived in Albuquerque while training at Jackson-Wink, is running for governor in his home state of Hawaii.

He’s running as a Republican in one of the country’s bluest states. According to one online source, Penn was polling at 26 percent – 22 points behind Republican front runner Duke Aiona.

Penn, a former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion, came out of retirement to train with Jackson-Wink’s Greg Jackson for his January 2017 comeback fight against Yair Rodriguez.

The experiment ended with his loss to Rodriguez by second-round TKO.

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