Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
MONTREAL -- April 30, 2011 is mostly remembered as the biggest event in UFC history, a mega-show that filled a cavernous stadium and announced that mixed martial arts was here to stay. As UFC 154 approaches, the night is also recalled as the last time Georges St-Pierre was able to ply his trade, as he's spent most of the time since then recovering from major knee injuries.
But what's forgotten about that night is that its last great action moment wasn't authored by main-event participant St-Pierre. Even he has criticized his own performance in victory, saying "my last fight was my worst fight." Instead, it was featherweight Mark Hominick who electrified the Rogers Centre with a stirring fifth-round comeback against champion Jose Aldo.
After getting throttled for most of the proceeding four rounds, Hominick took the featherweight king to the mat and unleashed hell over the last few minutes. Though he wasn't able to finish and fell in a decision, his spirited comeback marked him as one to watch for a potential rematch.
Unfortunately, it would be the last positive he'd experience in his fighting career for some time. Less than four months later, Hominick lost his trainer and close friend Shawn Tompkins when the coach tragically died of a heart attack at age 37.
Fighting with a heavy heart in his next time out, Hominick was stunningly knocked out in just seven seconds against Chan Sung Jung. And then, this past April, he was upset in a controversial and close split decision against Eddie Yagin.
From there to here in a flash, Hominick finds himself in the throes of a three-fight losing streak and in must-win territory against the tall, rangy Pablo Garza.
Unlike countryman St-Pierre, who says he lost some of his love of the sport and had to reignite his passion, Hominick doesn't attribute his struggles to anything of the sort. Instead, it's simple circumstance and performance. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
"I've always stayed motivated," he told MMA Fighting. "I've never gotten in a rut, even losing three fights in a row. I'm still motivated and I'm still hungry. That's the biggest thing. I don't feel the desperation. I treat every fight like I want to win, and this fight's no different."
That said, Hominick certainly understands that his job could be at stake, saying, "my back's against the wall, no question." It's simply not something he focuses on, and, he says, it's not something he even thought much about until he started doing media rounds for the fight and interviewers continually brought it up.
"My goal is to compete in the UFC against the best guys in the division," he said. "That’s the only place I want to compete. I want to fight the best in the world and this is where it's at."
In Garza, he'll be facing an opponent also in need of a win, as he's lost two straight heading into the matchup.
The physical pairing could not be more different than his last one. Garza is a lanky 6-foot-1, a full eight inches taller than the stocky Yagin. Hominick, who as always would prefer a fight that remains upright, would still need to find a way inside against that reach, but says his fight history has him well prepared for what he will face.
"It’s quite a contrast," he said. "The thing is, having a 10-year career, I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum. I’ve fought guys who are 6-foot-2 and guys who are 5-foot-4, so it’s nice to have that experience where you’re not getting thrown to the wolves and you’re not comfortable in that setting. And my track record is unbeaten against guys who are over 6-foot."
Also comforting to Hominick is the setting, a familiar place in which he's competed in over a dozen times in his pro MMA career.
When he makes the long walk to the octagon, he'll have over 20,000 fans behind him, pushing him to end that losing streak. His back may be against the wall, but a whole city stands besides him.
"This is almost like a nostalgia feeling," he said. "This is where I started my career 10 years ago. I was a Canadian champion based in Montreal. It’s nice to come back home and restart my career where it all began."
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