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Bellator 283’s Marcelo Golm wasn’t mentally prepared for UFC success early in career: ‘You go to a dark place after your first loss’

Marcelo Golm

Marcelo Golm wants a fast track to the Bellator heavyweight championship after a disappointing UFC run.

Golm had to be patient when a series of fight cancellations forced Bellator to postpone his promotional debut in 2021, but eventually made quick work of Billy Swanson this past August. Now set to face unbeaten Davion Franklin at Friday’s Bellator 283, he reflected on the winding road that led him to Bellator.

The Brazilian talent — who now trains with the likes of Junior dos Santos, Marcus Buchecha, Marcos Rogerio de Lima, Augusto Sakai, and Klidson Abreu at American Top Team — is 3-0 since parting ways with the UFC. He only had two years of MMA experience and five fights under his belt when he joined the UFC in 2017, stopping Christian Colombo in just 47 seconds in his his debut, but wasn’t re-signed after dropping three straight to Timothy Johnson, Arjan Bhullar, and Sergei Pavlovich.

“You’re undefeated and make it to a promotion that big and get a good win, that gets to your head,” Golm told MMA Fighting. “I wasn’t a guy that lost focus or partied a lot, nothing like that, but I wasn’t mentally prepared for that [level] at the time. I couldn’t deal with the losses that came one after the other. I fought tough guys as well, of course. I’m not taking anything away from them, but you go to a dark place after your first loss. You’ve never lost [before that], and being in the UFC, you don’t know how to deal with that.

“I stopped for some time after I left the UFC, and that gave my head a break to look back and see that losses happen to everyone. I’ve learned that losing is part of life. In a sport that is so unpredictable, especially in such a dangerous division like this, people will lose, there’s no other way. It will happen one day. What you can’t do is give up, keep your head down and think that it will define you as an athlete. No, it’s just part of the process.”

Almost one year after shining in his Bellator debut with a first-round finish, Golm is eager to make a statement against Franklin in Tacoma, Wash., to put himself in the title picture.

“I don’t think I’d go straight for the belt [next] because this is my second fight in Bellator,” Golm said, “But I do think they would definitely put me in an important fight so I can earn a title shot.”

Franklin, a former football player and wrestler, is unbeaten in the sport with a 5-0 record since his debut in February 2020. All of his fights have taken place under the Bellator banner.

Golm said he understands why Bellator would sign the Jackson-Wink talent before he even made his debut in the sport — “Especially in this weight class, which is a bit shallow in terms of talent, we know it’s hard to find young heavyweights,” Golm said — but he vows to spoil Franklin’s big plans. In his Instagram bio, Franklin already calls himself the Bellator heavyweight champion, and Golm wants to make him “pay” Friday.

“If you look at Bellator, the champion and the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked fighters are older,” he said. “It’s a division that needs young guys. He’s talented, he’s beating everybody they throw at him, including Said [Sowma], who trains with him. He might become champion, but only after I leave.

“He’s young, dangerous, and quite explosive. Almost all of his fights end by knockout, but he has a lot of openings in his game, he’s too open in the striking, and I wanna work on that. I respect him, he has power in his hands and is strong, but I see many holes in his game to get the knockout.”

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