|UFC fighter Mark Hominick spent time with at-risk kids as part of an anti-bullying campaign held at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., Dec. 6, 2011. (STAN BEHAL/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - As Mark Hominick stands on the field of the Rogers Centre, he can’t help but be flooded with memories of his epic fight with Jose Aldo at UFC 129.
The London, Ont., native accompanied fellow fighters Sam Stout, Sean Pierson and Matt Mitrione to the UFC Community Works program, an anti-bullying initiative, on Tuesday. One of the event’s main themes is that there are ways for kids to fight back against bullies.
Ironically, eight months earlier Hominick took a beating from Aldo in the same venue, only to turn the tables in the fifth round before coming close to putting the featherweight champion away with punches. He remembers the desperation coursing through his veins, the deafening screams of 55,724 fans and, of course, the massive haematoma protruding from his forehead.
“Oh, for sure — just seeing this building,” Hominick told Toronto Sun. “It’s such an iconic piece for Toronto, Ontario and Canada. So being here again brings back memories of UFC 129.
“I want to carry the momentum from that fight into this fight.”
The Aldo-Hominick bout won Fight of the Night honours, netting both men a $129,000 bonus, and Hominick’s popularity skyrocketed.
He now meets Chan Sung (Korean Zombie) Jung at UFC 140 Saturday at the Air Canada Centre. It marks not only his return to the octagon since losing the decision to Aldo, but also his first fight since the tragic death of trainer Shawn Tompkins.
“It’s weird how a tragedy really brings people together,” Hominick said. “It’s really brought our bond a lot closer together. The guys at Team Tompkins have to lean on each other. We’ve all had to pick up a piece of his leadership to carry on his legacy. We’re all very motivated to do so.”
Following UFC 129, Jung expressed interest in fighting Hominick through Twitter. The two verbally agreed, but the loss of Tompkins understandably delayed Hominick’s fighting career.
Hominick said he hopes to put on yet another Fight of the Night performance in Toronto.
“I want to be in the fights that the fans and the UFC want to see,” Hominick said. “It’s definitely a fan-friendly fight and I’m excited for it. It’s always nice when you’re both amped up and it’s a fight you both wanted.”
Though he’s only fought once in the UFC, Jung is one of the most popular fighters in the featherweight division. He stormed onto the North American scene after a wild brawl with Leonard Garcia at WEC 48 on April 24, 2010. Jung may have been on the losing end of a terrible judges’ decision that night, but he gained a huge amount of fans with his gutsy performance.
However, five months later he recklessly tried to brawl with Hominick’s training partner, George Roop, only to suffer a devastating high-kick knockout. It seemed the hype was dead.
But then in true Korean Zombie fashion, a reinvented Jung bounced back in March and delivered the submission of the year, putting Garcia away with a twister in the rematch.
Hominick admitted the loss to Roop was probably the best thing that ever happened to Jung.
“I 100% agree that he’s not just fighting for the fans now,” Hominick said. “I think when he came in, he had such a reputation as being this all-out brawler that will go through anything in a battle. He paid the price in the knockout loss to George Roop and he came back and showed that he’s a true mixed martial artist with skills everywhere.
“That’s the Chan Sung Jung I’m expecting Saturday night. I’m expecting him to mix it up, not just to brawl. His strength is in his submission game and I think that’s the game plan he’s going to come with.
“(The twister) was amazing. He won the submission of the year at the MMA Awards. So it was definitely a memorable fight. It just builds to the hoopla around the Korean Zombie. He’s got quite a bit of hype coming in and a submission win solidified his spot as a true MMA fighter.”
THUMBS UP TO HIOKI
Mark Hominick admits he didn’t give teammate George Roop much of a chance against Hatsu Hioki at UFC 137 in October.
Having twice lost to the Japanese sensation, Hominick knows what Hioki is capable of. But in a rather flat debut, Hioki just barely squeaked by Roop, leaving many UFC fans wondering what all the hype was about.
Hominick said he still expects big things from the former Shoot champion.
“I was very proud of George Roop,” Hominick said. “He came out and showed that he’s still a very tough fight in this division for anybody.
“Hioki got a bit of octagon jitters as a lot of people in the UFC do (during their first fight). They don’t always perform at their best and that was Hioki. Hioki’s amazing and I’m expecting a lot out of him in the future.”