On Saturday, April 30th, UFC Featherweight Champion, Jose Aldo defends his title for the first time when he takes on Thamesford, Ontario native Mark “The Machine” Hominick at UFC 129 in Toronto.
Those are the cold facts.
No matter what else the media or the fans or the marketing machine say, those are the undeniable truths of the matter.
On April 30th, Mark Hominick and Jose Aldo are going to fight.
And to hear most fans tell it, there really isn’t any point in Hominick even showing up to the Rogers Centre on the 30th. Doesn’t he know he won’t have a hope in hell of actually winning? Doesn’t he know Jose Aldo is unbeatable?
There’s a sound you can hear on all MMA websites, chat rooms and forums if you listen very carefully for it: Above the sound of fanboys arguing and trolls trolling; above the din of the arguing and the debating; of the endless P4P debates; of the Fedor hating; the Sexyama worship; and everything in between.
It is the sound of the MMA Gods (those spiteful bastards) laughing and cracking their knuckles. Seems most fans have once again declared that a title challenger has “zero chance” of unseating a seemingly unstoppable UFC champ.
They have some karmic work to do.
This past Saturday, Mark Hominick took the biggest step of his career—the golden step, if you will—when he destroyed George Roop in about the time it takes you to finish reading this sentence.
It was a masterful performance.
Hominick hurt Roop every time he touched him, while completely avoiding any damage in return. In less then half a round, Roop went from being the guy who killed “The Korean Zombie” to having roughly the same brain functionality as a zombie.
It was as dominant a display as Hominick has ever had in the cage.
The win sealed a world title shot for Hominick in his own backyard, on the biggest UFC card ever. It is the culmination of everything Hominick has worked for over his nearly nine-year career in MMA.
To judge by most fan reaction, however, the only thing Hominick won was a death sentence.
Because, really, there’s no way to beat Jose Aldo. He’s excellent in all areas, fast, well-conditioned and can do backflips off the cage.
As far as skillset goes, Aldo may be the most complete fighter in the game today, or at least tied for first with Fedor Emelianenko and Georges St. Pierre.
But just like Fedor and GSP, what Jose Aldo is not, is unbeatable.
Yet, as far as most fans are concerned, Jose Aldo might as well be facing a homeless guy off the street or beating on a side of beef, Rocky-style.
That’s how forgone a conclusion this fight is to most.
But that’s a mistake. It’s a mistake not just of fight analysis, but of not learning from history and thus being doomed to repeat it. As the old saying goes, there’s a reason fights are fought and not just decided on paper.
As far as I can tell, Mark Hominick is the most interesting opponent to face Jose Aldo in years.
First and foremost, he’s a tremendous striker.
He combines natural power and precision with perfect technique like no other Featherweight in the world—with the possible exception of Aldo himself; even Joe Rogan was blown away by Hominick’s striking game as he dismantled Roop Saturday night.
Ok, so beating George Roop doesn’t mean you're a lock to outgun one of the most accomplished strikers in all of MMA, but it gives Hominick an edge no other opponent of Jose Aldo in his WEC/UFC tenure has had.
As Hominick himself said post-fight, Aldo has made his highlight reel mostly by KO’ing wrestlers and grapplers—guys with less then stellar striking acumen.
He won’t have that luxury against Hominick, who presents a power/technique combination in his striking game to rival Aldo’s.
And speaking of the champ, let’s not forget that this is his first fight back after a sustained layoff due to injury. There’s no telling how the rehab and the ring-rust will effect his performance come fight night.
As good as he is, no fighter is immune to a compacted vertebrae, nor long periods of sitting out at practice.
Just ask Frank Mir and “Shogun” Rua what happens to once red-hot fighters forced to spend months on the shelf healing.
Finally, there is the intangible factor of this fight going down in what amounts to Hominick’s hometown.
This event is expected to be the biggest live gate in UFC history: An estimated 50,000 plus ravenous, drunk Canucks will be jammed into the Rogers Centre to cheer the local boy on.
If ever a fighter will get a boost from being the “hometown guy,” it’s Hominick.
So there you have it, my argument for a pro-Hominick view of UFC 129.
Do I think Mark Hominick will beat Jose Aldo? I think he has the striking skills to make it very interesting on the feet, and push the champion in a realm he usually isn’t challenged in.
I think he’s smart enough to stick to a gameplan if it’s working, and tough enough to whether a storm in order to catch a sudden opportunity.
Do I think Mark Hominick will beat Jose Aldo? I honestly don’t know. But I can’t wait to find out.
All you fans and so-called “experts” who are forecasting sure doom for the Ontario boy, do so at your own peril. Those MMA Gods are a fickle bunch, indeed.