was not one of those fighters that seemed destined for greatness from the beginning. After nine fights in his pro MMA career, he was a fairly pedestrian 5-4, though most of those fights took place in Canada's biggest promotion at the time. Hominick had debuted in the sport at age 19 and grew up in it, yet for most of his career, he had never truly been thought of as a guy who might one day be considered the best featherweight in the world.
Yet in just over a week, he'll have the opportunity to unseat the universally regarded world No. 1 Jose Aldo
and capture the championship in the co-main event of UFC 129
The match will be just the beginning of a whirlwind stretch for the 28-year-old. He'll be fighting in front of 55,000 fans in Toronto, just two hours away from the Ontario city in which he grew up. He'll have the chance to pull off what might be the title upset of the year. And to cap it all off, he and his wife are expecting their first child, a daughter, within a week of the event.
"There's going to be no other time in my life that's going to be this busy, this hectic and this much buildup," Hominick said on a Tuesday teleconference. "I'm just ready to go on April 30th and take all that momentum into the cage."
He will come into the fight on the strength of a five-fight win streak (he's won seven of eight overall). He's also shown good balance to his game during that time, winning two fights by TKO, two by submission and one by decision. But it's the life balance that's been a little harder to come by as the fight approaches.
Hominick (20-8) is quick to admit that the prospect of two of the most important days of his life coming so close together is a "bit overwhelming," but says he's received plenty of help from his family, many of whom live very close by and have shown their support with frequent assists.
"I've got a strong support system, and everyone's there," he said. "Everyone rooting for me for the fight. They all know. They've really stepped up. People at the gym, everyone in my life knows the opportunity that's in front of me, so it's been a huge support system I have behind me."
Last time he fought, Hominick handled the pressure brilliantly. Told before his bout with George Roop that if he won, he'd face Aldo for the championship, he showed no signs of anxiety, displayed no performance issues due to nerves. Instead, he absolutely dismantled Roop, knocking him down twice and finishing him via technical knockout in just 88 seconds.
That, however, was a fight Hominick was supposed to win. He had been favored by oddsmakers and fans. Against Aldo, though, he is a decided underdog, with the Brazilian champion as much as a 4-to-1 favorite. Aldo has won 11 fights in a row, has power rarely seen for a 145-pounder, and is a jiu-jitsu black belt. While Hominick is renowned for his striking technique, he knows what he's up against.
"Jose is one of these fighters, he's not dangerous in one area, he's dangerous in every area," he said. "It's not like you have to bring in a certain sparring partner. You have to bring in the best in every aspect from the standup to the clinch to the ground. So that's been the biggest thing, make sure I'm sparring with the best capable guy in every aspect as opposed to a one-dimensional fighter. Jose is most dangerous in every aspect."
Aldo is coming off a pair of injuries that forced him out of a scheduled UFC 125 title defense, a change that made this fight with Hominick a possibility. The champion suffered from neck and shoulder injuries that required rehabilitation. Though he says he's back at 100 percent
, the champ might seem a bit more vulnerable than before.
Hominick will also have a decided advantage with thousands of his countrymen rooting him on for an upset, hoping the kid who started his career as an ordinary fighter can do something extraordinary on April 30. Regardless of how it ends, though, he is thankful for the wild ride. It's a journey he will one day be able to tell his daughter, one that she was along for even though she wasn't yet with him.
"This has been something I definitely never experienced in my whole life," Hominick said. "My life definitely flipped upside down. It's almost like, I'm going into my 10th year fighting professionally, and I'm an overnight success. That's what it seems like."