UFC Title Challenger Hermes Franca Sentenced to 42 Months in Prison

Andrew Saunders@SaundersMMACorrespondent IIJanuary 22, 2013

Former UFC competitor and one-time title challenger Hermes Franca will spend the next three-and-a-half years of his life behind bars after being convicted of sexually assaulting an underage jiu-jitsu student.

According to a report from The Oregonian, the 38-year-old fighter pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of second-degree unlawful penetration for a December 2010 incident. Originally, he was arraigned for seven counts of sexual abuse and two counts of penetration, although most of the charges were dropped for reasons unspecified.

In the modern era of mixed martial arts, these sorts of stories are much more shocking than they would have been 10 years ago. These days, MMA fighters have the image of being disciplined athletes who have the sort of self control that would keep them from committing sexual or violent crimes.

However, with the recent story of two Lloyd Irvin students repeatedly raping a female training partner fresh on our minds, it is surprising that Franca did not receive a harsher punishment.

Franca competed under the UFC banner 11 times between 2003 and 2009. The pinnacle of his career came in July 2007 when he challenged (albeit unsuccessfully) then-champion Sean Sherk for the UFC lightweight championship.

Being that the black belt will be released from prison shortly before his 42nd birthday, it is assumed that his time in the ring is over. The last fight of Franca's career saw the Brazilian knocked out at 53 seconds of Round 2 at a small, local fight card.

Other UFC veterans who are currently serving jail sentences for sexual crimes include Joe Son, Mike Whitehead and Jeremy Jackson.