It's been a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs for UFC lightweight Hermes Franca over the past 12 months.
After getting his much awaited 155-pound title shot against Sean Sherk at last July's UFC 73, following a succession of impressive wins, Franca tested positive for a banned substance, sidelining him due to a suspension by the California State Athletic Commission.
Upon serving his suspension, Hermes was eager to return to action and was called to do so at "Ultimate Fight Night 14" against up and comer Frankie Edgar. Finally, Franca would have an opportunity to redeem himself.
Unfortunately, Franca's return to action didn't go quite as planned, as he was controlled by Edgar on the ground much of the fight. Despite being the aggressor and landing the better shots of the two, Franca would fall via unanimous decision and now must weigh his options for what's next in his career.
"I wasn't feeling that good -- I lost, but at the same time I'm happy to be back in the cage again -- so that makes me happy," commented Franca of his return to fighting.
According to Franca, his opponent didn't exactly allow him to work his own game enough to make the fight better, as styles make fights.
"He was there to win, he didn't fight," commented Hermes. "He tried to take me down and stay on top and avoid my submissions, and that's what he did, so he won the fight."
Never one to make excuses for himself, Franca did point out that he wasn't able to work on all aspects of his game due to changes in his training schedule, including an unexpected visit to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
"I was supposed to fight in August, that's why I went to Brazil to stay there a month and come back and go to Chicago for camp, but as soon I got to Brazil I got an email asking if I wanted to fight on July 19, and I said, 'Okay, yes, no doubt.'", he said.
"I was in Brazil and two weeks before I finished my training [and the] Athletic Commission asked me to do the drug test before I fight. The test takes like five to nine days [to get the results back], so right away I packed my bag, went to Vegas and was there for like five days. That bothered me a little bit."
Unable to do his full cycle of training due to stepping up to an earlier fight, and missing out on the last couple weeks of his adjusted training schedule due to his training partners being unable to travel to the States from Brazil while he awaited his drug test results, Franca was still able to work some aspects of his game. Others, however, he feels he needs work on prior to his next fight.
"Wrestling, no doubt," he replied on what needs work. "The gameplan was to train jiu-jitsu in Brazil, go to Clay Guida's for camp and fight in August. So, next time I have to train wrestling, no doubt, that's what people saw [as well]."
That next opportunity could come sooner than later if Hermes has his choice.
"I hope [to fight again] as soon as possible," he said. "I didn't get hurt, just a black eye, everything is okay, so I want to fight soon."
"I'm going to do some grappling and submissions [tournaments] in Brazilian jiu-jitsu to keep training and keep feeling the adrenaline of competition."
Even with all the ups and downs his career has taken, Franca remains forever optimistic and anxious of getting the opportunity to get everything back on track.