|UFC Fight Night 37: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa|
Hermes Franca (born Hermes Franca-Barros) was born on August 26th, 1974 in Fortaleza, Brazil. After spending the majority of his early years training in various martial arts including Brazilian jiu jitsu, Franca was invited to take part in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s next event, UFC 42.
Franca’s UFC debut saw him faced off against Richard Crunkilton and he proved his ability early by defeating Crunkilton with a strong unanimous decision. He was next slated to fight Carl Uno only a few short weeks after Uno narrowly missed taking B.J.
Penn’s lightweight title away after a controversial draw. Franca won the fight with a split decision and word began to spread that he would soon be a title contender.
Franca’s next two fights would prove less successful then his earlier UFC outings.
After losing a majority decision to Josh Thomson at UFC 46 he was defeated for the second time in a row at UFC 47: It’s On, this time to Yves Edwards by split decision. Two wins in non-UFC fights prepared Franca for his second attempt at Yves Edwards at the Euphoria: USA vs. World event, but yet another split decision lead to a second loss to Edwards.
After this shaky start to the year 2005 – Franca lost his first three matches – he returned in 2006 with much better results. After upsetting WEC champion Gabe Ruediger to take title away from him Franca continued to batter the competition, capturing the AFC lightweight championship from Team Quest combatant Ryan Schultz that April.
After continuing his hot streak with wins over Toby Imada and Brandon Olsen in non-UFC bouts, Franca signed a one-fight contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship to take on Roger Huerta at UFC 61. Huerta pulled out at the last minute due to an injury and was quickly replaced with UFC newcomer Joe Jordan. Franca did not seem affected by the change as he forced Jordan to submit in the final round with a triangle choke, clinching a win in his return to the UFC.
Franca continued his dominance in the UFC with a subsequent win over Jamie Varner at UFC 62 after coming into the bout as a replacement for injured Spencer Fisher. Franca won the fight with an armbar submission and immediately focused on his upcoming bout with Nathan Diaz in the WEC league. Franca defeated Diaz, extended his winning streak and retaining his WEC lightweight championship title.
Well on his way to receiving a shot at the UFC welterweight title, Franca sealed the deal with a win over Spencer Fisher at UFC Fight Night 8 with a strong TKO in the second round. He immediately asked UFC CEO Dana White for an opportunity to fight Sean Sherk for the title and was granted his request with a bout scheduled for UFC 73. The fight went a full five rounds and saw Sherk retain his title with a win by unanimous decision.
UFC officials announced immediately after the fight that both Franca and Sherk has tested positive for illegal substances in their post-fight drug test. Franca was suspended for from competing professionally in California until July of 2008 and fined $2500.
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