Two battle-tested veterans will duke it out in the featherweight division this Saturday night (April 21, 2012) as former title challenger Mark Hominick takes on Hawaiian Eddie Yagin on the UFC 145 main card in Atlanta, Georgia.
Hominick is now far-removed from his dramatic UFC 129 performance against Jose Aldo where he nearly stole the show in the fifth round and is now reeling after an embarrassing seven second knockout loss at the hands of "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung last December. He needs this victory to get back on track perhaps more than in any fight in his MMA career.
Eddie Yagin had a strong run to earn his invite into the UFC, but he certainly didn't show it in his debut last September, dropping a complete snorefest to Junior Assuncao in Denver. If he wants to stick around in the promotion, he's going to have to prove he can be considerably more exciting than that and there's better way to prove it than against a high caliber opponent like Hominick.
Will "The Machine" terminate Yagin's UFC career? Or will "The Filipino Phenom" continue Hominick's streak of horrible luck? What's the key to victory for both men this Saturday night?
Let's find out:Mark Hominick
Record: 20-10 overall, 3-2 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. He desperately needs to get back on track against Yagin on Saturday night.
How he gets it done: Hominick needs to learn from his last fight and go back to what has always worked for him, which is being a composed and technical striker. He rushed in recklessly and paid the price.
Hominick is a battle-tested veteran of the sport and he's mastered one part of his game, his boxing. He has crisp hands and his pure punching prowess is on the level with any featherweight in the world right now. As long as he can utilize proper footwork, he should be able to pick Yagin, but he can't lose his composure.
"The Machine" needs to get this fight where he has the most potential to do damage, and that's up close and personal. If he can keep this fight in the pocket, he will have the perfect opportunity to inflict damage to the head or body with his powerful precision striking.
He needs to take what Yagin gives him in this fight and if Yagin is content to stay on the outside and be passive, then simply pushing forward cautiously and working from the outside is more than enough. What he can't afford to do is dive in again.
Record: 15-5-1 overall, 0-1 in the UFC
Key Losses: Junior Assuncao (UFC 135), Rich Clementi (XC 2)
How he got here: A native of Hilo, Hawaii, Eddie Yagin has been fighting for nearly 12 years now believe it or not. He won the first eight fights of his professional career before bigger opportunities came calling. Unfortunately, he was not able to be successful in those big opportunities, going on a four fight stretch with three losses and a draw against higher level competition. His last loss to Rich Clementi during that streak was very disheartening for him.
Yagin wouldn't fight for nearly two years, but when he returned, he came back with a fury, winning five straight with four stoppages before again coming up short against WEC veteran Diego Saraiva.
Undeterred, "The Filipino Phenom" bounced back with two first round stoppages including a very impressive guillotine choke submission of original Bellator featherweight champion Joe Soto this past August. That victory earned him a trip to the UFC, although he was extremely hesitant in his promotional debut against Junior Assuncao, losing an extremely lackluster decision to the Brazilian.
Now, he'll likely be fighting for his UFC life as he takes on former title challenger Mark Hominick.
How he gets it done: Yagin has a nice well-rounded skillset with five knockouts, five submission and five decisions on his resume. As evidenced in his fight with Soto, he's got power in both hands, even when backed up against the fence and he's got some respectable offensive submission skills if he can spot an opening.
Yagin needs to take some initiative from his bout against Assuncao and be the aggressor this time. He was extremely tentative in that fight to the point of extreme frustration. If he hadn't stepped up on short notice to take the fight, he'd likely be cut already. If he doesn't step it up against Hominick, he's going to be unemployed in a heartbeat.
Yagin needs to turn this fight into a slugfest. Bring the excitement up a notch and force Hominick to make a mistake like he did in his last fight against the Korean Zombie. If Hominick leaves an opening in the stand-up, Yagin is powerful enough to make him pay.
Also, Hominick has had his issues with strong submission fighters in the past and while I don't view Yagin as a big submission threat, he has the skills to take advantage if he rocks "The Machine" in the stand-up department.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor for this fight is all about Mark Hominick and where he is mentally. There is a ton of pressure on the stable of Team Tompkins fighters to get that first victory and it hasn't happened yet. Sam Stout lost a close decision, Horodecki had a draw and was recently destroyed by Mike Richman after dropping to featherweight and now Hominick went and nearly set a UFC record for being the quickest person knocked out.
Hominick made a huge mistake in his last fight, rushing forward and throwing a power shot with his first strike, thus leaving him wide open to being knocked out. He has to settle down and not let the pressure of getting that victory get to him. If he's there mentally, he should win this fight no problem, but as we've seen, the lack of Shawn Tompkins has left a huge gaping hole for those three men. Will Hominick be the one to break the streak?
Bottom Line: I have no idea how this fight is going to turn out. Yagin put on an absolute snoozer in his last performance. Hominick has reason to be less aggressive here as he walked right into a knockout the last time around as well. There's potential that this fight could be fun as both men are capable on the feet, but I just have a ton of question marks here. Yagin is fighting for his UFC life and might be doing the patented "fight not to lose" strategy while Hominick may be gunshy after being on the end of a near record-breaking KO loss. I'll keep my hopes up but I'm not making any promises.
Who will come out on top at UFC 145? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!