35 year old Hermes Franca has announced that he is to retire from the sport.  The fighter, who made his name in the UFC and WEC came to the decision after losing to local favorite Eric Wisely (12-4) by TKO on Friday night at MaxFightsDM: Ballroom Brawl IV in Des Moines, Iowa.

MMAweekly were the first to report the news, and speak with the Brazilian fighter.

“The fans gave me the passion and strength that kept me competing at the championship levels for all these years. Without them, I couldn’t have done it. I owe it all to the fans,” Franca said.

He indicated that a struggle to keep up with the physical demands of the sport at this stage in his career had convinced him it was time to hang up his gloves.

Looking Back At The Rollercoaster Career Of Hermes Franca

Franca first entered mixed martial arts competition in November of 2001, and marked his arrival in style by handing a rare defeat to Mike Thomas Brown , a fighter who would go on to be considered one of the pound for pound fighters in the world, and only recently lost his WEC featherweight title.

After going six fights undefeated Franca found himself in the UFC in April of 2003, and made an immediate impression by defeating Richard Crunkilton. Five months later At UFC 44 he knocked out highly regarded Japanese star Caol Uno, who at the time was fresh off of a draw against lightweight champion BJ Penn.

After such an impressive start to his career Franca looked well on his way to being a major force in the UFC’s lightweight division, but his fortunes changed in 2004, losing decisions to both Josh Thomson and Yves Edwards, which brought an abrupt end to his first spell in the promotion.

Though he ended the year on a better footing thanks to two victories in the space of 5 days for smaller promotions, 2005 would end up being a whitewash for the fighter, going 0-3 and suffering the first KO loss of his career in Hawaii.

With a record of 2-5 in 2005, Franca’s form appeared to have deserted him, but his career was about to take an unexpected u-turn. In March of 2006 he was offered the chance to fight for the WEC lightweight title against Gabe Ruediger.   It was the perfect opportunity for Franca to get back on track, and he seized the moment, knocking out the defending champion just 36 seconds into the opening round.

It was to be the start of another eight fight winning streak for Franca (seven of those coming in 2006) that would see him successfully defend his WEC belt a further two times against Brandon Olsen, and future TUF season five winner Nate Diaz, before vacating the title. In between that he made a winning return to the UFC against respected fighters like Jamie Varner and Spencer Fisher.

In July of 2007 Franca had the opportunity to fight for the UFC’s lightweight title against Sean Sherk, but as with earlier in his career Franca’s winning form suddenly eluded him just as he was reaching the top. He lost the bout by decision, and then was met with controversy when both himself and Sherk were discovered to have tested positive for steroids. His rollercoaster career was once again on a downward spiral.

After a year out further loses to Frankie Edgar and Tyson Griffin, in-between a solitary win over Marcus Aurelio , brought an end to his second and final spell in the octagon in September of last year.

Clearly Franca’s fight against Eric Wisely on Friday night was seen as a final test to see whether he still had it in him to make another return to the big stage. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and after suffering his second TKO loss in a row the Brazilian has bowed out of the sport with a final record of 19-9.

Franca, who’d trademark brightly dyed hair gave him a distinctive look, will be remembered as a fighter who had the ability to be dangerous on both the ground, thanks to his BJJ submission skills which brought the majority of his wins, but also on the feet where one of his looping hooks could end the fight in an instant.  He was also a durable opponent who, up until his last two fights, had only been stopped inside the distance once in 26 professional fights.

His manager informed MMAweekly that Franca now intends to take a short break before returning to his teaching duties as the head coach of the ‘East West Combat Club’ in New York.

Article By RossC