You have to be pretty damn tough to be a professional mixed martial artist. The grueling training, getting punched in the face and countless injuries are not for the faint of heart. But still, some fighters stand above the rest with their toughness and tenacity. Guys like Rich Franklin, who fought through a broken arm, or Urijah Faber, who injured both of his hands against Michael Thomas Brown but continued going, are the pinnacle of mixed martial arts toughness.
You can now add Mark Hominick to that list.
Mark "The Machine" Hominick provided one of the gutsiest performances in recent memory when he took on featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 129. Maybe it was the hometown crowd, maybe it was the title fight, or maybe Hominick is just one tough S.O.B. but the underdog never stopped coming forward.
Hominick had bad cuts under both of his eyes, had been dropped twice due to punches and had a lump the size of a grapefruit growing out of his forehead. But he didn't once pack it in and give up.
"I just wanted to win so bad," Hominick told The MMA Fight Corner presented by FiveKnuckles.com. "I got to basically show, in that fight, what I've been about for the last 15 years. Anybody who's trained with me, even if it's been for one day, they know that that's what I'm about. I got to prove that. I wanted to walk away with the belt and now I gotta go back to the drawing board, fix a few things and come back. I know one day I'll be wearing it."
Watching at home, in a bar or at the Rogers Centre it was impossible not to notice the tremendous growth emanating from Hominick's forehead. Close-ups of it resulted in groans in bars across the world. When it was placed on the JumboTron inside the arena, an audible gasp was made by the 55,000+ spectators.
The growth was linked to Hasim Rahman, Jerome Le Banner and Dwayne Lewis in the pantheon of best hematomas in combat sports. Fans cried for the bout to be stopped while other urged that is was merely superficial.
"I thought it was a cut to tell you the truth," Hominick said. "I knew he landed the elbow and I felt the swelling right away. It was just one elbow that he landed inside of my guard that did the swelling. From there it kept blowing up. It definitely looked a lot worse than it was. It wasn't affecting my vision, it wasn't affecting my performance. It looked horrible."
Hematoma aside, the fight with Aldo produced one of the most riveting bouts at an explosive UFC 129. Outside of the main event, the night was filled with knockouts, submissions and just stellar fights. Hominick and Aldo were awarded Fight of the Night honors, and $129,000, for their five round title fight. The bout saw both men land solid shots and both had their moments in the spotlight where it looked like the tide would finally tilt for good.
Practically no one guessed that the bout would be as close as it was leading up to the fight. Aldo was a heavy favorite entering the night, bolstered by his near perfect record and the absolute beatings he had laid on past challengers for the featherweight belt.
Hominick was also seen as a near last minute replacement. The UFC had already awarded the title shot to fellow featherweight Josh Grispi, if he...