Eddie Yagin with the big win. (Tracy Lee)
Editor's note: Jay Busbee is cageside for UFC 145. Follow him on Twitter.
ATLANTA — Shortly after 10:30 Eastern on Saturday night at UFC 145, two careers crossed paths.
Mark Hominick, the onetime title contender who's fallen on hard times, squared off against the undistinguished, largely unknown Eddie Yagin. The result was the best fight of the night to that point, a featherweight bout that left both men bloodied and beaten.
Right from the start, Yagin made it clear that whatever Hominick's pedigree, Yagin wouldn't blanch. The so-called "Filipino Phenom" bored in on Hominick with lethal speed for seven uninterrupted minutes. Problem is, the fight went the full 15, and by the time it was done, both men were beaten beyond recognition
This was an upright fight; neither fighter even attempted a takedown. Yagin put Hominick on the mat with uppercuts followed by devastating overhand rights, combinations that raised an egg-sized swelling on Hominick's right cheek. And through the first half of the fight, it appeared that would be enough to do in the once-promising Canadian.
But Hominick didn't become a onetime championship challenger on reputation alone. And although he had a rough 2011, losing the championship bout in a decision and another fight in a seven-second knockout, he still had enough in the tank to turn Yagin's nose into a bloody mess.
As the second round closed and the third opened, Yagin's eyes widened, bringing to mind Mike Tyson's old line about everyone having a plan until they get punched in the face. And for a brief moment in the third round, it appeared that Hominick could right his listing career with a knockout of Yagin. But his punches weren't landing with enough force, his jabs weren't nearly quick enough, and Yagin, bloody face and all, stayed on his feet until the final horn.
After the fight, the Filipino Phenom was both gracious and elated. "Hominick is veteran and unbelievably badass," he said. "I was hoping I was going to get that fight with Mark, and the fight was exactly as I pictured it. I thank UFC for the opportunity. Because Hominick was favored, and a UFC veteran, and I'm a rookie UFC guy, I'm pretty happy about this win."
Hominick's future from here on out is uncertain. But Yagin's is as bright as the arena lights above him. Once he wipes the blood out of his eyes, he'll like what he sees.
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