UFC 90: Why Do Fans Boo Sean Sherk, but Cheer Hermes Franca?

At UFC 73 in the summer of 2007, Sean Sherk defended his lightweight title against Hermes Franca, and afterward both fighters tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Both Sherk and Franca served suspensions but have since returned to the Octagon and will fight tonight at UFC 90, and there's something strange about the way they're being received: The fans love Franca and hate Sherk.

At yesterday's weigh-in, Sherk was booed loudly, and I heard several fans make shouts and catcalls about steroids. But Franca was cheered loudly, and I didn't hear any fan say anything about steroids.

Why? What is it about Sherk that makes fans hold it against him that he tested positive, while Franca is forgiven? It's a strange thing about performance-enhancing drug use, across all sports, that fans and the media have inconsistent attitudes toward the athletes who get caught. Sometimes it's quickly forgiven and forgotten; other times it's a permanent stain on an athlete's career.

For UFC fans, Franca is in the former category, while Sherk is in the latter.

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