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Why Hermes rules and Sherk drools

Michael David Smith asks what to me seems like a question with a very obvious answer: Why do fans hate Sean Sherk but like Hermes Franca?

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.

The primary reason is simple: Sherk never admitted his guilt and locked the UFC lightweight title in limbo for half a year while battling it out with the California State Athletic Commission (this was also after not fighting for 10 months – he literally killed the lightweight division’s momentum). His case was weak and described by the commission itself as ‘throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks’.

Oh, the fact that his nickname was ‘The Muscle Shark’ didn’t help things much. People were already on the fence with Sherk considering he has a bad habit of using those muscles to pin people down and lay’n’pray his way to decision after decision. When people found out the physical strength he used to impose that will was attained via steroids … well, you can understand why they were upset. Last but not least, you had BJ Penn running a ‘Sean Sherk sucks’ campaign based around Sherk’s steroid suspension.

Hermes Franca on the other hand admitted his mistake with humility and served his time quietly. His steroid use was to rehab an injury, not to gain muscle mass and strength.