By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
The first ever UFC Featherweight Championship bout is fast approaching, as Jose Aldo enters the Octagon for the first time to defend his title against Ontario native Mark Hominick in front of 55,000 fans in Toronto at UFC 129.
The two featherweights will be in the highest profile fight of their respective careers, and Hominick is enjoying a whirl wind change in his life since blasting through George Roop in his return to the organization in January.
“It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Hominick said in an interview with Duane Finley at BloodyElbow.com. “If you break it down this is my tenth year fighting as a pro and to get to fight on a huge card for the UFC in my home province is a dream come true. I’m fighting for the belt and my wife is due a week after the fight so there is a lot of good news coming up.”
“The atmosphere has been insane [for this fight], especially in the province. It’s been unreal and there is so much anticipation. There has been such a buzz around the province about the fight and the event sold out in 10 minutes. 55,000 tickets kind of shows there is a demand and the fans want to see it. The fans understand the sport and they are rabid for MMA. You can’t go to any bar that is showing the fights on a fight night and expect to get a seat. That’s the kind of support Canadian fans have.”
Aldo enters his first ever UFC fight after having been given the title by UFC officials after his dominance in the WEC. His 11 fight win streak has seen him blast through a number of opponents and he looks to showcase his skills against a tough opponent in Hominick.
“My expectations are always the best possible ones,” Aldo said in an interview with Tatame.com. “I’m a very confident guy, I work hard and I believe in things. I’m flying and I want to go there and put on a good fight, I’m training for it, I’m dedicated, and thank God it’s about time. I wanted my debut to be earlier, but now it’s just about training and going for it.”
“Man, [Hominick] has good striking, but his record is enough said, but it’s what I’ve been talking about: I don’t see a problem at all, I’m doing my trainings. I respect him, he’s a great fighter and deserved to have this title shot.”
Hominick is preparing for the best Aldo he can face, and though he extolls Aldo’s skills, he believes he’s ready to seize this “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“I’m hoping to see the best Jose we’ve seen because we are definitely going to see the best ‘Machine’ we’ve seen as well,” he said. “My last five fights I’ve had a winning streak going, I’m 28 years old so I’m kind of hitting that peak age of my prime and this is that time for me. This is the title shot. If you break it down I’m in my home town fighting for the belt and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, and I’m training so hard to make this happen.”
“I think him being billed as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters is rightfully so. He’s not just dangerous in one area. He’s dangerous on the feet, on the clinch and on the ground so he can end the fight anywhere it goes. I think that is what separates him from a lot of the top fighters, especially on the pound-for-pound list, is that he can finish the fight anywhere. The biggest thing is going in there against him and not being intimidated. His last few opponents have gone in against him and were beaten even before the first punch was thrown. They let him dictate the pace of the fight and they were scared to implement their game plan or push their strengths because he does have a mystique and everyone is terrified of him. You have to go in there to fight your fight and not be intimidated.”
Penick’s Analysis: This is quite possibly the most intriguing fight on this card in Toronto. Because of what Aldo has done to so many opponents there are those who won’t give Hominick much of a chance, but Hominick brings a very good overall game into this fight and represents a serious threat to the Brazilian Champion. This fight is huge for both fighters, and with Hominick fighting in front of a hometown crowd a victory would be massive for him. It would be a huge upset, sure, but with Aldo making a return from injury and Hominick looking fresh after his last fight, this should be a lot closer than most believe at this point.