Hermes Franca has not been a favorite fighter of mine for some time, but I do respect him. In the mid-decade Franca was a tough opponent, taking fights whenever he could and for different organizations. Since coming back from his suspension, a result from testing positive for Drostanolone after his title fight with Sean Sherk, he has been on a 1-5 losing streak.
In early 2010 following yet another loss Franca announced his retirement, but subsequently returned in September losing two more times. His fight this past Sunday has caught everyone’s attention and not for a good reason.
Hermes was fighting in the Xtreme Vale Todo 5 event that took place in Costa Rica. Hermes opponent that evening was French fighter Ferrid Kheder. After dominating the entire fight the decision went to the judges with all signs were pointing to a for sure victory for Franca. However, everyone was put in a state of shock when the ring announcer named Kheder as the victor.
Fans in attendance, and those who witnessed the fight online, were left wondering what had just happened. Was this another case of bad judging? The referee made the decision not to raise Kheder’s hand in victory out of protest. Franca’s cornerman Dave Jensen tried pleading and asking everyone in sight what was going on. He first asked the announcer to see the judge’s scorecards; the announcer - who spoke English the whole night - started pretending that he only spoke French. The promoter Jean-Francois Billon high tailed it of the arena when everyone started to get upset. Jensen next went to talk to all three judges, who all claimed to have scored the match for Franca.
After the dust settled, it appeared that Franca had been screwed by the promoter. He’s not the first fighter to have been taken advantage of by an unscrupulous promoter and unfortunately he will not be the last. Adding insult to injury, Jensen was told to stop asking questions or Franca would not be paid. There have been plenty of promoters that have given fighter’s bad checks, last minute canceled dates, and sub-par medical standards. But, this is the first time, in MMA, that a promoter has changed the outcome of the match.
A lot of us old wrestling fans remember an event that can be summarized up in one word… Montreal. Back in 1997 Bret Hart was leaving the WWE, then known as WWF, for their rival promotion WCW. The problem with Bret leaving was that he was WWE’s world champion and refused to drop his title to his rival, both onscreen and off-screen, Shawn Michaels. During their match Michaels put Hart in Bret’s signature finisher; right away Vince McMahon, the promoter of WWE, called for the bell and gave Shawn Michaels the title. Bret got screwed and it would be a subject that would haunt his career for years.
A few days after the match Kheder posted on his Facebook page that the decision on the match was overturned to a no-contest and that a rematch was in the works. Franca has come out and said he would never fight for the promotion again. Hopefully, as this sport grows such scumbag promoters will be weeded out.