by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It seems like every time you turn around this year you see Hermes Franca’s name. Currently riding an impressive six-fight winning streak in which he’s finished all of his opponents.
Fresh off a victory at UFC 62 this past August, Franca returns this month to the WEC to defend his Lightweight Championship against fast rising youngster Nathan Diaz.
Recently MMAWeekly caught up with Franca during final preparations for his title defense to talk about his fight, the pressures of being a champion, and how his team – The Armory – will do in their fights this coming weekend.
MMAWeekly: First off Hermes tell our readers about your upcoming fight on October 12th in California for the WEC.
Hermes Franca: I’m going to fight against Nathan Diaz, he’s Nick Diaz’s brother. He’s a young kid looking for his opportunity so you know he’s going to come strong and fast.
MMAWeekly: Have you had any chance to study him at all during your training?
Hermes Franca: I saw his fast last time I fought in the WEC [21 in June]. He’s a good jiu-jitsu guy, he has long legs, and he’s tall, taller than me. I saw his last fight and still have the DVD so I’m studying his game and am trying to do a good job [preparing].
MMAWeekly: Do you notice a difference being a champion and top-ranked fighter again this year compared to last year?
Hermes Franca: It’s a lot of pressure to fighting against hungry fighters like him [Diaz] and my last opponent, Jamie Varner, because the pressure is all on me to have to win. So it’s hard, but I work hard every day with my partners like Kurt Pellegrino, who’s fighting in the UFC, so we’re working together and we’re going to do a good job next week, definitely.
MMAWeekly: You mention Kurt Pellegrino who is also a member of The Armory. The school continues to get more recognition as a really great place to train. How does that feel to know your success is mirrored by the school?
Hermes Franca: It’s awesome…it’s amazing. Day by day we’re getting more students and they help us, so we don’t have to go anywhere else, we have enough at our academy. We have Matt Wiman, Raphael Chaves, Wald Bloise and a couple of students that are good wrestling, strong guys.
MMAWeekly: And of course being in Jupiter, Florida it doesn’t hurt to have all the hot girls walking around in bikinis right?
Hermes Franca: Yeah, that’s why I like to run on the beach every day [laughs].
MMAWeekly: You’re returning to the WEC after having had great success in the UFC this year. How important is it to you to continue to defend the title you hold in the WEC rather than just focus on the UFC?
Hermes Franca: It’s very important. I don’t want to close the doors. I told Joe Silva that I had two fights left in the WEC and I’d like to finish it, so he agreed with me and said it was okay. The WEC opened the door for me in 2006. I did my first fight his year for them against a good fighter, Gabe Ruediger. So I really appreciate Scott Adams [WEC Promoter] and I would like to keep fighting and keep my belt around my waist.
MMAWeekly: The UFC is reinstating their 155lb Championship the same weekend you defend your title in the WEC. With your success this year do you ever think about going after the UFC title also and what do you think about the match-up between Sean Sherk and Kenny Florian?
Hermes Franca: Right now I think why I’m doing a good job is because I’m not thinking about that belt. I want to fight and I keep doing a good job. If I get the chance to fight for the [UFC] belt, that’s cool, but I try to just think about the fights, not the belt. Sometimes if you think about the belt it’s not good. I want to keep fighting and winning and if someone tells me I’m the number one contender and I’m going to fight for the belt, then I’ll start thinking about the belt.
About Sean Sherk and Florian, it will be a nice fight because you have a wrestling guy versus a jiu-jitsu guy and every fight like this is exciting.
MMAWeekly: Your training partner Kurt Pellegrino is also fighting on that same card at UFC 64. How has it been working with him for that fight?
Hermes Franca: Kurt is an amazing fighter and great guy. He likes to train and was waiting for that opportunity to drop in weight. He’s doing a good job and I’m so excited about him and I think he’s going to do a good job.
MMAWeekly: So it’s shaping up to be a good weekend upcoming for The Armory?
Hermes Franca: I hope so. We train hard every day because that’s what we’re doing; we’re fighting for the team and our students. So for sure next week will be awesome, it’s going to be a great party [laughs].
MMAWeekly: Thanks as always for your time Hermes. Is there anything you’d like to say as we head out?
Hermes Franca: I’d like to say thanks to NoGi. To all my fans, I’ll be back next week and one more time I’m going to do my job and keep winning.
MMAWeekly: And be on the lookout for a new hair color in the WEC right?
Hermes Franca: Yeah, you guys are going to see it next week…I’m not sure the color I’m going to put it, but it will be a new color [laughs].
MMAWeekly: And if it matches your trunks like last time Chris Brennan of NoGi should give you some extra sponsorship money right?
Hermes Franca: I hope so…I hope so [laughs]. I’m going to ask him [laughs].