Most fighters have enough to think about when they have an opponent directly in front of them. When the stakes get raised and there's something more on the line, it's easy to lose focus. That's the scenario Mark Hominick faced at UFC Fight for the Troops 2.
Beat George Roop, and earn a shot to co-headline the biggest event in UFC history and fight for the featherweight championship. Lose, and start all over again. For an eight-year veteran, that's an all-or-nothing scenario.
But as Hominick explained on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, focusing directly on the match was as routine as a day at the gym.
"Honestly, that's just kind of the way I am as a fighter," he told host Ariel Helwani. "I focus on what's in front of me. I honestly wasn't looking past him. The focus was Saturday night for that whole training camp. I wanted to make a statement in the fight. That was my mindset when the fight was signed. I Wanted to make a point and prove why I was the No. 1 contender regardless of what [UFC president] Dana [White] had announced before."
Hominick (20-8) did just that. It took him all of 88 seconds to knockout Roop and set up the UFC 129 match with champ Jose Aldo at the massive Rogers Centre in Toronto.
The 28-year-old is a native of Thamesford, Ontario, about 100 miles southwest of Toronto, so the opportunity to have a featured spot in an event that is virtually guaranteed to break the North American attendance record is a most welcome opportunity.
Hominick did it with accurate striking, dropping Roop with a right hand, and battering him until the ref stepped in to call a halt to the action. It was just the latest example of his considerable standup skills. He's considered to be among the best of the featherweight strikers, and he believes that leads to a favorable matchup with Aldo, also a talented striker.
"He's backed everybody up on their feet," he said. "He's kind of cowered everybody and scared them on their feet whereas I'm going to go forward and put pressure on him and see how he reacts to that. That's what I mean when I say he hasn't faced a fighter like [me]. Someone who's willing to throw down, willing to put pressure, and willing to chase."
Hominick said he thinks the wiry and explosive Aldo is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world due to the way he's dominated opponents. Aldo is 18-1 and hasn't lost under the Zuffa banner, going 8-0 with seven knockouts.
"I was always watching as a fan at first," he said. "He's so dynamic and so explosive and I'm a huge fan of the sport, so I like watching him fight. But then when I started breaking him down, I'm like, 'Man, I match up really well with this guy.' I match up well with anybody. And I think I can be the guy to dethrone him."
Before beginning his preparation for Aldo, Hominick will take two weeks of rest. He plans an 8-10 week camp prior to the fight.
Maybe with his brief time off, the enormity of what's to come will finally sink in. Because deep in preparation for Roop for the last few weeks, it's all been a blur. But even though Hominick hasn't examined the situation in depth, he knows that before him lies a rare opportunity.
"I haven't sat down and thought about it really," he said. "I've answered all the questions about fighting in Toronto and what it means and all that, but haven't really sat down and realized the grasp, how big this is, how big an opportunity it is and how big this card is going to be. This is going to be a life-changer for me."
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