Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE and Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE
MMAmania's Brian Hemminger takes a closer look at UFC 154's main card-opening bout between Mark Hominick and Pablo Garza. What's the key to victory for both men? Find out inside.
Record: 20-11 overall, 3-3 in the UFC
How he got here: Mark Hominick got his start fighting on the local Canadian circuit and was the featherweight king, winning and defending the TKO featherweight title a total of four times. He put himself on the radar when he upset top five lightweight Yves Edwards in his UFC debut.
The Canadian would stumble against grappling experts, Hatsu Hioki, Rani Yahya and Josh Grispi and after over a year away from the sport, "The Machine" came back with the vengeance of The Terminator. He ripped through the WEC featherweight division with a four fight winning streak that included the likes of current UFC fighters Bryan Caraway, Yves Jabouin and Leonard Garcia.
Hominick would crush training partner George Roop in less than 90 seconds with a ferocious TKO to set up a title fight with Jose Aldo at UFC 129 earlier this year. Despite getting leveled early and suffering from perhaps one of the worst hematomas of all time, he battled back and won the fifth round convincingly. He lost his title shot, but his comeback spirit won over a plethora of new fans and he took home a $129,000 "Fight of the Night" bonus.
In his Octagon return, however, he was destroyed by Chan Sung Jung in just seven seconds after losing his composure with his opening attack. To make matters worse, he would go on to lose to Eddie Yagin in his next fight, bringing his UFC losing streak to three. His back is against the wall on Saturday night against Pablo Garza.
How he gets it done: Hominick needs to get off to a better start. His conditioning allows him to take over in the later rounds, but in all of his last three fights, he's been hurt badly in the opening rounds.
Hominick's boxing usually gives him a major advantage against opponents on the feet, at least once he loosens up. His technical skill is still solid, but his head movement and defensive tendencies have gone completely out the window. He needs to bring back that footwork and solid boxing fundamentals if he wants this streak to end.
Garza is prone to getting hit by technical strikers, whether it be punches or leg kicks. Hominick would be wise to try to get inside and hurt him to the body if it's available as Garza has a lot of ground to try to defend with his lanky frame. The closer he gets, the less likely he'll be affected by Garza's length.
As long as Hominick can avoid big knees from Garza on the feet, he should at least be able to outpoint "The Scarecrow."
Record: 11-3 overall, 2-2 in the UFC
Key Wins: Yves Jabouin (UFC 129), Fredson Paxiao (Ultimate Finale 12)
How he got here: Pablo Garza got into MMA after he couldn't find any amateur boxing fights, skipping an amateur MMA career entirely. His risk seemed to pay off when he won his first fight in 38 seconds and then proceeded to go 9-0 against the local North Dakota circuit.
"The Scarecrow" would earn an invite to participate in season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter but would lose a tough decision to eventual finalist Michael Johnson for a shot to get into the house. Despite the loss, he would earn an invite into the WEC to take on undefeated Chinese prospect Tie Quan Zhang on just five days' notice. Garza would succumb to Zhang's patented guillotine choke in the opening frame.
When the UFC and WEC merged, Garza was given one more shot as a reward for stepping up to the plate on late notice when he took on former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Fredson Paxiao in the first featherweight fight in UFC history at The Ultimate Fighter season 12 finale. In less than a minute, Garza landed a brutal knee that knocked Paxiao out cold and earned him a fight night bonus.
Garza would return at UFC 129 in the opening bout of the night against Yves Jabouin. After a rough start, he put Jabouin in a clinch and jumped up for a flying triangle choke, eventually securing the submission and another huge fight night bonus.
Since that highlight-reel moment, Garza's been in a tailspin, getting dominated by Dustin Poirier and then completely outwrestled by Dennis Bermudez in consecutive bouts. "The Scarecrow" can immediately return to prominence if he were to upend a former title challenger this weekend.
How he gets it done: Garza's biggest advantage is his length. It's extremely difficult to find featherweights who are over six feet tall, but he's one of them. The adequately nicknamed fighter needs to find ways to utilize that length to his advantage, whether it be with his knees, his jabs, some leg kicks or even elbows.
As we've all seen, Garza has the power in his knees to end a fight with one shot. If he can put Hominick in the clinch, perhaps pull his head down into a rising knee, it could definitely be lights out for "The Machine." It's all about being unpredictable.
Hominick can pick apart any orthodox fighter, but thankfully, Garza is about as unorthodox as it comes. He can attack with a wide array of strikes from multiple angles and they could catch the former title challenger off guard if thrown properly. He's also got the guts to attempt wild submissions like his flying triangle against Yves Jabouin at UFC 129. If he can keep Hominick guessing, he's got a shot.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor for this fight has to be how both men react to having their backs against the collective walls. Hominick enters the bout on a three-fight losing streak while Garza has lost two straight. The three fight skid from Hominick was forgiven likely just for this fight. He can't afford another loss. Garza especially can't afford to lose three straight. He doesn't have nearly the name value or drawing power as Hominick so he's much more expendable.
Some fighters become desperate when they're backed into a corner, others try to remove all risk and fight extremely boring. How both men react knowing a pink slip could be coming is a huge factor here and the more aggressive man is likely going to be the victor.
Bottom Line: It's crazy to think but at UFC 129, Garza was in the opening fight of the night while Hominick fought for the title in the co-main event. Both men have gone one very different and strange career paths which has eventually led to this collision. Both men are capable of being a bonus hog as Hominick has been prone to winning "Fight of the Night" while Garza has brought home the bacon with Submission of the Night as well as one of the most brutal knockouts of the year in his UFC debut. As long as they fight like they are capable of, this fight could be just as entertaining and bonus-inducing.
Who will come out on top at UFC 154? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!
Which featherweight will likely remain employed with the UFC following a victory on Saturday night?
Mark Hominick (40 votes)
Pablo Garza (13 votes)
53 total votes