Dustin Poirier's surprising upset of top contender Josh Grispi at UFC 125 created difficulties for more than just the Grispi family. The UFC had penciled in the young Bostonian to face UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo in the rising star's first UFC appearance. A multi-faceted young fighter, Grispi was thought to have the skill set to challenge Aldo on his feet and on the ground. That plan was shattered into pieces as Poirier decimated Grispi's standing defenses and avoided numerous submission attempts on the ground.
Now the UFC is in a tough spot. They didn't groom any real contenders in the featherweight division in the WEC. The promotion was so focused on Aldo and rehabilitating Urijah Faber that it seemed to pay little attention to the future. Well, the future is now and the UFC has a hot young fighter - unfortunately he's a hot young fighter with no contenders in sight. Enter Mark Hominick.
"The Machine" has been in the game for 10 years waiting for an opportunity like this. Undersized for most of his career, spent at 155 pounds because that's where the money was, Hominick can earn a shot at the world championship with a win over the unheralded George Roop at UFC Fight for the Troops 2 later this month at Fort Hood, Texas.
"If Mark Hominick wins this fight, he gets a shot at the title with Aldo," UFC president Dana White revealed to the world in a conference call Tuesday. "That will be in Toronto."
For Hominick, the hard fighter's life has magically disappeared, in its place a fairy tale of sorts. Not only would he earn a shot at the title, he'd do it in his home province at UFC 129. If things fall into place, he could wear the belt to the hospital while his wife delivers the couple's first child in May. The fighter tells the USA Today that while none of this is lost on him, Roop has to come first:
I go into every fight treating it like a world-title fight, so I'm fighting George Roop for the world title Jan. 22 in my mind.
If you are legitimately going to fight for the title, you have to be able to take all comers. George Roop is just another guy in the way.
Yet, as much as he purports to be focusing on Roop, an Ultimate Fighter cast member with an ordinary record and like Poirier not the kind of fighter you'd expect to be taking on a top challenger before a title fight, Hominick can't help but think about living his dream.
This is my 10th year fighting as a pro, and to be on the first card in my home province in Toronto, Ontario would be amazing, and would be a dream come true. It's a goal I've had a long time, and to be fighting for a world title on that stage would be amazing...Things in life happen for a reason, and I believe that's just a natural progression. Get to fight Jan. 22, April 30 and then have the baby. In a perfect world, that's the way it's going to work.
Hominick poses an interesting threat to Aldo should he get by Roop unscathed. In his pro career the slick kickboxer has been too much for anyone to handle standing. Except for a cut stoppage against the tough Stephen Palling at the beginning of his career, all of his losses have come on the ground to grappling oriented fighters. As yet, Aldo is exclusively a standup fighter, winning all of his WEC fights with a combination of hard punches, kicks, and flying knees.
Will Hominick be the man to test Aldo's much heralded but little seen ground game? It's an intriguing matchup, but one that depends entirely on Hominick beating Roop in a little more than a week. We've seen Roop derail the "Korean Zombie" express when Chan Sung Jung was at the height of his popularity. Now he'll have the chance to spoil Hominick's magic year as well. There's a lot on the line on SPIKE TV - and that's why this was one of my five favorite January fights.