by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At this past weekend’s UFC 62 resurgent veteran lightweight fighter Hermes Franca stepped in for an injured Spencer Fisher against Jamie Varner and got all he could handle, but managed to get the victory and keep his winning ways going.
Upon returning home to Florida Franca spoke to MMAWeekly to discuss the fight and what’s ahead for the man that many consider to be the comeback fighter of the year in 2006.
MMAWeekly: First off Hermes, you were a late replacement at UFC 62; do you think lack of normal preparation time had any effect on you in the fight against Jamie Varner?
Hermes Franca: Yeah I just got two weeks [to prepare] and I didn’t know who I was fighting. I had never seen him fight before. He was in good shape, he came in strong and fast with good takedowns, but I focused my heart and in the third round I though, “I have to finish this fight,” and I finished it.
MMAWeekly: Would you say that was the toughest challenge you’ve had in your comeback?
Hermes Franca: Every fight is tough for me. He just was one more fight. Of course he came strong, but every fight for me is dangerous, every fight for me is tough. If you were to ask me if this was the toughest fight for me in 2006, for sure, he was the top fight.
MMAWeekly: Speaking of the fight, there was an interesting series of events in the third round where it looked like you had Varner trouble after landing some knees off his shoot. He appeared in serious trouble and even turned his back to you. Are you surprised the referee didn’t stop it there?
Hermes Franca: I haven’t seen my fight yet, but my manager told me he could have stopped the fight when I was chasing Varner. He [Varner] was running away and Big John [McCarthy] stepped in and said he was going to take a point away and let it keep going. Thank God I finished the fight, that’s the most important thing [laughs].
MMAWeekly: Let’s talk about that finish. That was a very impressive submission, was that something you’ve trained on in the gym or was it improvised?
Hermes Franca: No, that’s what I do every day. I’ve been training Jiu-Jitsu with a Gi three times a week. If you see in the fight I went to the uma plata and I squeezed my legs, so I turned his arm to the side for an arm bar and gave me good position to go an arm lock and I finished the fight. You can see step-by-step I went to the uma plata, squeeze my legs, turned his arm and finished it with the arm lock.
MMAWeekly: The UFC is reinstating the 155lb title with a match in a couple months between Kenny Florian and Sean Sherk. Many people feel you’re a top contender for that title, so do you wait for a title shot or do you keep fighting until then?
Hermes Franca: Of course I want to fight for the title, but I want to keep fighting, fighting is my job. I want to get fights, get students for my academy, that’s so important, keep fighting and keep winning. It doesn’t matter if it is the UFC, WEC, or AFC, because in the WEC and AFC I have the belts. Of course I want to fight for the title in the UFC, but what I want to do for 2006 is keep fighting and make my money, that’s most important.
MMAWeekly: For more hair dye right?
Hermes Franca: Right [laughs], go to the salon and put colors in my hair.
MMAWeekly: Tell us how that came about.
Hermes Franca: In 2006 I started to paint my hair, red, yellow, green and at the Mandalay Bay people were asking, “Hermes you’re not going to do your hair?” So I go to the spa and asked them to put some colors in my hair. I said, “Let’s do some green with some stripes,” so we did it [laughs].
MMAWeekly: The green to match your NoGi shorts, you hit up Chris Brennan [NoGi Owner] for some extra money for that?
Hermes Franca: [Laughs] No, not yet.
MMAWeekly: Before we go I know how big of an impact you joining The Armory [www.amma.tv] has had on your life, would you like to say something about the gym for our readers?
Hermes Franca: About my academy, I have the best academy in Jupiter, Florida, my little planet, it’s amazing. It’s a beautiful city, I’m so proud to live here. When I say the best I mean the quality. We have Wald Bloise the Muay Thai guy…Rafael Diaz, a Hermes Franca Black Belt…Kurt Pellegrino who did a great job at UFC 61 and won this weekend at AFC in 1:30, Matt Wiman whose been doing a great job these past few months. So I have a great gym, great students, and day by day my academy is growing fast.
MMAWeekly: Thanks for your time as always Hermes. Is there anything you’d like to say as we close out this interview out?
Hermes Franca: I want to say thanks to NoGi and Premier, thank you for the support. I love my fans, I’m so happy, day by day I have my fans and my fans make me strong. I’m still fighting because my fans asked me to fight, so I’m still fighting.