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Hermes Franca ready for first post-deportation fight in Brazil

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Former WEC lightweight champion and UFC lightweight title contender, Hermes Franca is restarting his life in Brazil.

The MMA fighter was sentenced to 42 months in U.S. prison after pleading guilty to an unlawful penetration and first-degree sexual abuse. After leaving prison in April, Franca was deported to Brazil. Four months later, he’s back in the MMA world.

Franca will headline the Extreme Fighter Nordeste at the Paulo Sarasate gymnasium in Fortaleza, Ceara, on Aug. 28, against Breno Braga (9-2), and he won’t lose his focus despite the recent run-in with the law in the United States.

"I don’t let anything bother me. It wasn’t the first problem I had and it won’t be the last," Franca told "Everybody has personal problems. MMA is what I love. I first competed in jiu-jitsu 20 years ago, and I've fought MMA since 2001. That’s what I love, that’s what I do."

Franca guarantees he’s innocent of all charges. The UFC veteran asked his lawyers to send him the police report, which he claims tells "the true about the case" and proves that the real story was different than reported by the media. However, he opted not to disclose the police report.

"Who knows, one day I’ll tell my side of the story. You will be the first to know," he said.

"I moved on. It was a complicated situation, but I’m in another country now, living my live. I’m free. It doesn’t affect me. I want to show the police report. I have it here with me, but talking about it won’t change anything. I don’t care about what people say about me. I’m doing my part. Whatever I say, it won’t change anything."

"My conscience is clean," he continued. "I learned a phenomenal lesson. I screwed up a few times in my life, I had issues with alcohol, women and drugs, but everything happens for a reason. I’m clean for three years, living my life. I don’t miss anything. God is so good that He gave me a fight the day after my birthday. I will celebrate my 40th birthday inside the ring."

The Brazilian veteran says "the sky is the limit" for his MMA career, and hopes to climb the rankings "step by step." His next step is Breno Braga, who scored TKO wins in eight of his last nine fights.

Franca, who holds stoppage victories over the likes of Nate Diaz, Caol Uno, Mike Brown, Jamie Varner, Toby Imada and Spencer Fisher in his 35-fight career, welcomes the favorite status in his first post-deportation MMA fight.

"I don’t know much about him," Franca said. "He’s not a top fighter, but he’s a tough kid that has been doing a great job recently. He’s coming off wins, so it’s a tough fight. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain in this fight, so it’s a tough one.

"I don’t have the obligation to win, but for my experience and the name I built for myself, I can’t waste it. I’m not fighting for money, I’m fighting because that’s what I love to do. They don’t pay you good money to fight in Brazil, and you have to fight to be remembered.

"I’ve done much for the UFC. I fought for the UFC in a time when Dana White wanted to sell the UFC and nobody wanted to buy it, and I fought when he would never consider selling it. (Extreme Fighter Nordeste) came to me offering this fight, and I’m ready. I’m in peace, my friend. Everything is fine."