One week following the return of the UFC, storied UFC Light Heavyweight Champion “Bones” Jon Jones (15-1) will defend his belt for a third time against former friend and former champion “Suga” Rashad Evans (17-1-1). The amount of animosity between the two is enough to sell the Pay-Per-View on its own, but nevertheless the UFC has built a solid card to support the title fight with “Ares” Rory MacDonald (12-1) facing “Beautiful” Che Mills (14-4) after a heavyweight meeting between “The Hybrid” Brendan Schaub (8-2) and “Big” Ben Rothwell (31-8). Former WEC Bantamweight Champion “Angel” Miguel Torres (40-4) will face “Mayday” Michael McDonald (14-1) in an effort to stop the younger man’s seven-fight hot streak and Canadian submission expert Mark Bocek (10-4) will open things up against returning UFC veteran “The Natural” John Alessio (34-14). Also making a splash on the main card is “The Machine” Mark Hominick (20-10). The Canadian kickboxer is looking to snap a two-bout skid but standing in his way is “The Filipino Phenom” Eddie Yagin (15-5), a well-rounded fighter who lost his UFC debut but still boasts triumphs in seven of his last ten bouts.
At First Glance: This bout has all the trappings of a fight billed for one purpose: to rebuild an exciting and popular fighter who has been on a recent skid. Mark Hominick is a skilled, ISKA veteran kickboxer, a two-time “Fight of the Night” winner, and a former challenger to the UFC featherweight title. Against him is a fighter who appears strong on paper with his 15 victories split evenly between submissions, KO/TKOs, and decisions, but lacks strong performances against high caliber talents. Yagin’s UFC debut was against returning UFC wash-out Junior Assuncao (13-5) who was 1-2 in the UFC heading into the bout and is now 2-3 with his second win being over Yagin. “The Filipino Phenom” has also never defeated a UFC veteran and that reeks of tomatoes when he is put against a championship contender like Hominick.
In Depth: This bout appears to be fairly one-sided. While Yagin is tough and well rounded, he is 0-4 against UFC veterans, only two of which had wins in the UFC, and in fact, has only a 5-5-1 record against opponents with winning records. Compared to Hominick, who is 3-2 in the UFC and left the WEC on a three-fight streak, the mismatch is fairly obvious. It isn’t all numbers, either. Hominick is a very skilled striker, likely the most accomplished kickboxer Yagin has ever faced. Against Assuncao, a noted ground fighter who has just one win via strikes in his past eight victories and only two in his career, Yagin was unable to counter effectively on the feet, often eating leg kicks and punches only to be immediately taken down when he attempted to respond. Against a kickboxer like “The Machine” this is unacceptable as the sharp combination striking of the Canadian will be completely unforgiving of slow counters and poor positioning. Even on the mat, the Canadian is more accomplished, leading any reasonable analysis to point towards Yagin as a sacrificial lamb on the altar of rebuilding an exciting fan favorite.
Wild Card: The problem with fights this uneven on paper is just that; they are obviously uneven. In the 1977 Orange Bowl in NCAA Football, the Oklahoma Sooners were huge favorites over the Arkansas Razorbacks due to numerous suspensions and injuries. The Sooners decided to celebrate their impending victory during the week prior to the game and as a result, the Razorbacks thrashed them 31-6. The obviously superior team got destroyed as a result of ill preparation due to an obvious mismatch. Should Hominick and his camp take Yagin likely, a major upset is far from out of the question. Yagin has nothing to lose and will do whatever it takes to win.
The Verdict: Overconfidence is rarely a vice that plagues fighters coming off back-to-back losses, so the chances of Hominick taking a win for granted are low. Yagin is a tough nut to crack, but it is unlikely he will have any answer for the superior training and experience of “The Machine”. Hominick will take control with his striking, back Yagin to the cage, and pound on him until he cracks. Hominick via TKO (Strikes), Round 2