Mark Hominick: The Stars are Aligned
Mark Hominick hasn’t just emerged out of nowhere to challenge Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title at UFC 129.
Check his resume.
The personable and polite 28-year-old has been competing as a professional for the last decade, cutting his teeth in the tough ranks of Montreal’s UCC and TKO promotions. He also had a two-fight stint in the UFC lightweight division earlier in his career, earning victories over Yves Edwards and Jorge Gorgel at UFC 58 and Ultimate Fight Night 5 respectively.
Between his debut in June 2002 and stepping into the ring at Affliction: Banned in July 2008, Hominick couldn’t quite find a rhythm. The skills were there and he exhibited flashes of brilliance, but a 15-8 record with a losses to Hatsu Hioki, Rani Yahya and Josh Grispi left him as a featherweight afterthought, not a contender.
Then something clicked.
A win over Savant Young on the Affliction card was followed by a trio of victories in the WEC. A broken hand following his split decision win over Leonard Garcia at WEC 51 kept Hominick from challenging Aldo at UFC 125. What seemed like a cruel twist of fate at the time turned out to be the first act in what has become Hominick’s Hollywood tale.
“Timing is everything and the stars are aligned,” laughed Hominick, reflecting on the road that has brought this title opportunity to his door. “Now, I’ve just gotta take this opportunity and run with it. It’s my job to put in the work and execute it on April 30.”
Grispi was tabbed to replace Hominick opposite Aldo, but then the champion was forced to withdraw as well. Unsung prospect Dustin Poirier stepped in for the champion and dominated Grispi on New Year’s Day, leaving an opening opposite Aldo available to Hominick once again. All he needed to do was defeat George Roop in January.
While the pressure of the “win and you’re in” opportunity might get to others, Hominick showed no sign of nerves, coming out in his trademark aggressive fashion, showing off his tremendous striking acumen.
Just 88 seconds into the fight, Roop was slumped against the fence defeated, and Hominick was getting his chance to fight Aldo after all.
The UFC announced the two would meet in the co-main event of UFC 129 in Toronto, the organization’s first foray into Ontario. After more than ten years as a professional, Hominick would finally be getting to fight in his home province, with a chance to become world champion on the line as well.
Upping the ante – and Hollywood drama – even more, the Thamesford, Ontario native and his wife Ashley are set to welcome their first child just a week after the April 30 event.
You honestly couldn’t write a more compelling story arc if you tried; an MMA Rocky with Aldo as Apollo Creed, with Toronto filling in for Philadelphia. It’s an exciting time that Hominick has been enjoying every step of the way.
“It’s been a crazy time, but I keep telling Ash that they’re be no other time like this in our life; this much going on. It’ll be something we remember forever. It’s been a crazy time, but everything has been going well; it’s definitely crunch time for everything.”
In addition to sharing these moments with his immediate family, Hominick is quick to make sure everyone knows this is a moment for his MMA family as well.
Hominick is one of the original members of Team Tompkins, a core trio along with Sam Stout and Chris Horodecki that came up under the watchful eye of coach Shawn Tompkins in London, Ontario.
“You see a lot of guys that train, they kind of gym jump or they have a new trainer for each fight; they train one place for a couple of years, and then they jump ship to a rival gym or whatever.
“We’ve always been the same unit. We’ve added to the coaching staff, added sparring partners and whatnot, but it has always been the same core unit. I think that’s the kind of bond when we step into the cage. We’re going on 12 years together; the bond is indescribable. Shawn was the best man in my wedding, all three of us were in his wedding. We really are family; Shawn married Sam’s sister.”
As much as Hominick knows this is the biggest moment in his professional career, he is emphatic that this is as much an opportunity for Tompkins as well; a moment in the sun after years of sacrificing for his three young charges.
“You wouldn’t believe the amount of things he’s done to ensure we’ve gotten the opportunities we have. He slept on a set of Thai pads, lived at gyms so that we’d get the opportunity to train there. He’s always laid it on the line for all of us; he’s committed so much. I want to win for him as much as I want to win for myself.”
With the unique opportunity at hand and the Hollywood tale being written, it would be easy for Hominick to get caught up in the moment and lose focus. Media commitments, requests from long-lost friends looking for tickets, and the impending birth of his daughter could all sidetrack the 145-pound striker, but it hasn’t. His focus remains on Aldo, and Hominick is acutely aware of how dangerous the Brazilian champion is inside the cage.
“The thing with Jose, he’s dangerous in every area, so you can’t get one specific guy to mimic him; you have to get the best in every area. We’ve brought in some wrestling champs, I’m working with Jorge Brito down in Toronto, and a ton of Thai boxers trying to mimic his style.
“We’re covering the ground; I’m getting good sparring every day. That’s been the main thing with this training camp is just to be prepared everywhere. Its a five-round fight instead of three rounds, so there is extra road work and extra rounds you have to do to be prepared for a war because Jose is one of those guys who can go five rounds; we’ve seen him do it in impressive fashion.
“The main thing is just to be ready everywhere, in every aspect, and cover every piece of ground.”
Hominick is a testament to perseverance and patience in this industry; a sign that hard work and dedication do indeed pay off.
Ten years into his career, he’s standing on the verge of becoming a world champion in front of 55,000 fans, most of whom will be cheering for the fellow Canadian. Five days later, he’ll become a father.
Hollywood couldn’t craft a better script.
Now we just have to wait until April 30 to find out how the story ends.
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