The opening pay-per-view bout of UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida should be an action-packed barn burner. Fan-favorite featherweights Mark Hominick and Chan Sung Jung will lock horns in a battle pitting prestigious fundamentals versus voraciously expelled aggression.
Mark "The Machine" Hominick (20-9) is a seasoned veteran who's been tangling with top-shelf competition throughout his career and is currently ranked eighth in the world at 145. He's widely respected as one of the best kickboxers in the game for his utterly impeccable technique, much of which was crafted under the tutelage of the late Shawn Tompkins.
A native of Ontario, Canada, Hominick is coming off a genuinely impressive five-round title bout with the mighty Jose Aldo, who has a well deserved reputation as an elite Muay Thai assassin. Despite sprouting a grotesque, B-cup-sized hematoma on his forehead that could double as a functional coat-rack, Hominick turned in a gritty and valiant performance against the habitually dominant champion. He ate spoonfuls of punishment but gave his fair share in return, fearlessly dueling with Aldo on the feet, deftly slipping punches, slamming his left hook downstairs and stealing the last round with a takedown and commanding top-play.
Chan Sung Jung has only participated under the bright lights of the Zuffa banner three times. In each, the haymaker-hurling Korean has experienced the extreme emotions of either the soaring highs or the soul-shrinking lows of MMA. His North American premiere at WEC 48 in April of 2010 was an indelible clash with the ever-inclined Leonard Garcia where the pair delivered an epic spectacle of mass carnage.
The sizzle of this instant classic was more of a strange human connection with caveman-era warfare than golf-clapping at an artistic chess match, and it garnered press as both a Fight and Robbery of the Year candidate. In retrospect, the contentious decision for Garcia might have rallied fans behind Jung even more so than if he'd won. Dana White and Joe Rogan flaunted his signature shirt with pride and the internet quickly exhausted every conceivable quip pertaining to necrophilia and eating brains.
The consummately under-rated George Roop would then bring the Zombie madness to a screeching halt with one fell swoop of his left leg, knocking out Jung for the first time and shattering the mystique of his very namesake. The roller coaster of Jung's stateside stint plummeted to its bottommost depth and he went from adored icon to another failed import in one fight. In history defining fashion, Jung would claw his way out of the dregs by implementing his stellar grappling in the rematch with Garcia, fitting him with the Octagon's first Twister.
Re-embraced by the public, Jung's unorthodox submission resounded with fans, yet the general consensus for Saturday's collision is that Hominick's resplendent striking repertoire is tailor-made for his recklessly unkempt stand up.
Gifs and analysis in the full entry.
For certain, MMA Math is a hideous practice quickly derided by the masses. It's not, however, entirely without merit and hereby offered as Exhibit A.
George Roop, who virtually beheaded Jung with a left-legged lightning bolt, looked desperate and out of sorts when encumbered with Hominick's methodical weaponry. Despite enjoying an edge in height and reach, which are valuable assets in a striking match, Roop was handily dusted in a one-sided, first round stoppage. All the exemplary mechanics and finesse that Hominick is trumpeted for were on full display.
Roop typically captains the pace with his stretchy striking but "The Machine" was in no mood for it. Above, we see how Hominick wields simple tools with the utmost efficiency. Flashing a series of lefts while strategically steering Roop toward his power hand, Hominick plugs home a crisp right that drops him before easily brushing off a takedown attempt.
To the left we see the uncanny stalking, footwork and precision of Hominick, who chokes off escape routes and wraps things up with pinpoint accuracy.
Expertly jousting in the pocket, here Hominick turns a hard corner and couples his left hook with another that sweeps under Aldo's guard and rifles into his midsection.
Throughout his career, the Canadian has been an excellent body puncher, whether it's with his bread and butter left hook, the straight right, kicks from outside or knees in the clinch. Though not your typical brick-fisted power puncher, his mastery of striking mechanics alone instills him with the capability to end fights in a hurry. Of his twenty wins, his finishing rate is split evenly with eight TKOs and submissions.
The unexpected tide-turner against Aldo was launching for a takedown and smothering the champ -- a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt -- with a smattering of ground-and-pound with excellent posture from the top.
As with his stand up tactics, Hominick is icy cool on the ground. He rarely over-commits on anything, forces something that isn't there or pursues a high-risk opportunity, yet the catch is that he still maintains a consistent level of offensive output while doing so.
Like Jung, Hominick is known for adept striking and submission grappling as opposed to wrestling skill.
The pulse-quickening whirlwind of blue leather depicted to the right aptly signifies the visceral eruption of violence that ensued in Jung's North American debut at WEC 48.
Some justifiably speculated that a friendly Hey, Hold Still So I Can Punch Your Face Repeatedly agreement had been secretly agreed to beforehand, others, like myself, phoned relatives to insist they tune in with no regard for the mental scars it would leave on aging grandparents, and most just sat back and beheld the gratifying savagery with slack-jawed bewilderment.
While regularly categorized as a sloppy mugging, there is a definite semblance of skill in Jung's bobbing, weaving and visceral counter punching.
In the sequel, correlating with Aldo vs. Hominick, the factor of wrestling became a hidden and pivotal variable, as it might again in this match up on Saturday night. Pressing forward aggressively as usual, this time Jung connected with Garcia and isolated his head while hammering a succession of knees. Once Garcia hit the mat, Jung was all over him.
In his tour of duty in Sengoku and other pre-Zuffa contests, Jung's slick submission grappling was clearly his most effective tool. Out of the nine stoppages on his record, seven come via submission with two by TKO.
To the right, the Twister cometh. Jung excels in scrambling, especially at taking the back, and he uses his spidery length and octopus-like limbs well to pass guard and create opportunities.
Physically, Jung has one-inch in height on Hominick (5'9" vs. 5'8") but almost four in the reach department (72" vs. 68.5") and it's an aspect he's learned to capitalize on standing. Nothing will compensate for the inevitable contrasts of their striking but his slight edge in reach and still-durable chin should help to even the scales a bit more.
Hominick being simply too technical on the feet is an overwhelming assessment for good reason. Along with Michihiro Omigawa, who won a hotly debated "must-decision" over Jung, Hominick represents the best competition Jung has ever faced with a style seemingly attuned for his trademark ballistics. He is an overwhelming favorite on the betting lines as high as -500.
Obviously, Hominick is the safe and mature prediction. Fortunately, I am neither mature nor cautious and also emotionally attached to The Korean Zombie. Giving him the nod does involve more than personal bias: Jung's flat performance against Roop was incredibly uncharacteristic and a severe anomaly, his striking is on a level far beyond visceral brawling and will be enhanced by his reach advantage, his wrestling is mildly under-valued, his submission game is criminally under-appreciated and Hominick cried uncle in five of his nine career defeats.
My Prediction: Chan Sung Jung by submission
Jung x Garcia WEC 49 gif via MMATKO.com
All others via Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com