by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Hermes Franca is experiencing something of a rebirth. After a stretch that saw him lose five of seven bouts over a two-year period, Franca has rebounded to win two straight fights in 2006 against tough, up-and-coming competition.

In addition to experiencing a turn-around in the ring, Franca is also experiencing a positive change in his training and teaching, thanks to his new school and team, The Armory.

Recently, Franca spoke with MMAWeekly about his most recent victory, his next bout (which takes place this weekend), what the future holds for him, and the possibility of a lightweight tournament in the Rumble on the Rock promotion.

MMAWeekly: First off, Hermes, let’s talk about your most recent win in the Absolute Fighting Championships last month. Tell us about that fight.

Hermes Franca: I took another belt, the AFC belt against Ryan Schultz. I’m so happy because he’s a tough opponent. It’s another big step in my career… because he’s a wrestler, I tried to take him down a few times, but he has a good sprawl. I was trying so hard, and I was able to knock him out in three minutes.

MMAWeekly: That fight was your second straight win by knockout. Do you feel you’re now becoming just as dangerous standing as you always have been on the ground?

Hermes Franca: Right now, I can say I’m a complete fighter. I can fight all areas… I can punch, kick, takedown, Jiu-Jitsu, everything. There are no surprises right now. If I step into the ring or cage again, I want no surprises. That’s why I’m training so hard.

MMAWeekly: You’re definitely on a roll.

Hermes Franca: Yes, I’m back for sure. Hermes Franca is back. 2005 wasn’t so good for me. I had a lot of personal and professional problems, but now I don’t have any problems in my head and my mind is clear, and right now I just want to take care of my academy, my family, and my career.

MMAWeekly: I know you have a fight this weekend in California. Tell us about that.

Hermes Franca: I’m going to fight this week in San Diego for Total Combat. I’m going to fight against Toby Imada. I was supposed to fight Adam Lynn, but he hurt his back, so he can’t fight. But I’m still on the card against Imada. He’s 170 [pounds], but he’s dropping to 160 for this fight.

MMAWeekly: So, you have guys from other weight classes wanting to fight you now, huh?

Hermes Franca: Yeah, that’s right [laughs]. That’s because right now there’s a lot of guys at 170, a weight above mine… like I said earlier, I feel good, I feel I could do a good job [against those fighters]. It’s another fight. I can’t challenge anybody, I can’t pick my opponents, so if somebody else wants to fight, I want to fight. That’s what I want to do.

MMAWeekly: So, bring on the heavyweights next, right?

Hermes Franca: [Laughs] No, I’m not BJ Penn. He’s the man. I’m walking around at 163 right now. I don’t want to be at 175 and drop down. That doesn’t work for me. I have to walk around 163 or 162 to feel strong and at my best.

MMAWeekly: You’ve been going pretty much non-stop since the beginning of the year.

Hermes Franca: You know, I want to stay busy and keep training because I feel good. After my fight against Ryan Schultz, I was okay, so the day after I was training. I just want to keep busy and keep doing my job well.

MMAWeekly: Switching gears a moment, let’s talk about your training. You’re with The Armory now. Tell us about that school and team.

Hermes Franca: We’re waiting for next month because we’re going to add new things like weight machines and do a huge academy, like 7,000 to 8,000 square feet. We have a great facility and have great instructors like Kurt Pellegrino… Wald Bloise is our Muay Thai coach… Raphael Chaves, who just got his black belt yesterday, he’s a very good grappling fighter. Overall, the academy is doing very well. We have great students, great instructors, so I’m very happy.

MMAWeekly: I know a lot of fighters have told me they’re interested in coming down and training with you. How does it feel to know The Armory is a place where people want to come down and train?

Hermes Franca: It feels good. The Armory is always open. We don’t have any enemies, and we are professionals, so the academy is open for everybody. The academy has good energy, good people. We have a lot of fun, and we train hard every day. As I said, I’m very happy.

MMAWeekly: Okay, getting back to the fight game. If all goes well this weekend for you, what is next this year for you?

Hermes Franca: Right now, I just have Total Combat on the 13th in San Diego, and then I hope to fight in Rumble on the Rock in Hawaii in August. It will be a mini-GP. If it will be four fighters… I’m not sure yet, but if it’s four fighters, it will be me, Ray Cooper, Josh Thomson, and Gilbert Melendez.

MMAWeekly: I’m sure you’d like to get rematches with Cooper and Thomson.

Hermes Franca: Yes, of course. In a rematch right now, I think I’m going to do a good job.

MMAWeekly: Cooper, Thomson, and then Yves Edwards next, right?

Hermes Franca: [Laughs] Oh man, Yves Edwards is so much fun. I went to Texas to his house. He’s a nice guy, and he’s a gentleman. To fight him again would be so hard because if I have to fight against Yves again, I hope it will be for a title. Otherwise, I don’t want to challenge him because right now he’s like my brother.

MMAWeekly: But ultimately the goal this year is to become Lightweight World Champion, correct?

Hermes Franca: Yes, that’s right. That’s what I want to be… I wake up and say, “I want to be the Number One.” I know it’s not so easy to be there because you have to work hard. You have to work so hard, so that’s what I’ve been doing right now.

MMAWeekly: That’s definitely understandable, Hermes. Thank you so much, as always, for your time. Is there anything you’d like to say as we head out?

Hermes Franca: I want to say thank you so much to my fans. You give such big support to me. I want to say thanks to my family, and when I say my family I mean my wife, my son, and my students. Thanks to NoGi Industries, my new sponsor. Chris Brennan, thank you so much. Thanks to God for giving me the strength to wake up each day and work hard, so hard, and like I said, Hermes Franca is back for sure.