by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It’s been almost twenty months since the 155lb division was represented in the UFC and it’s been over four years since there has been a champion in the division. At UFC 58 thought that all looks to change, and while a title will not be on the line between Yves Edwards and Mark Hominick, represents the return of the lightweights to the company and it could be that first all-important step towards crowning a champion.
Yves Edwards is a name that should be familiar to any MMA fan. Over the past couple of years he’s become one of the most recognizable lightweight fighters in the world and rightfully so. He is highly skilled and possesses a personality that is nearly unmatched in the entire sport. There are few if any that haven’t been impressed by him almost immediately.
But his journey back to the UFC for the first time in over a year is just one portion of a long career that’s seen him rise to the position he currently holds as the man that is regarded by many as the uncrowned UFC 155lb Champion. Yves is nearly a 10-year veteran of the sport and has squared off against some of the best fighters in the world.
Prior to making his UFC debut against Matt Serra in late 2001, Edwards had already fought 25 times against the likes of Rumina Sato, Nathan Marquardt, Pete Spratt, and Aaron Riley. During such time his skills as a striker were well regarded and his ground game was becoming more complete every time out. There was hardly a place in the ring that Edwards couldn’t take a fight and be comfortable.
What kept Yves from stepping up and becoming a truly great fighter wasn’t his skills, but his inconsistency. He’d lose his first two UFC bouts (to Serra and Caol Uno respectively) and then go on a tear, winning multiple fights in a row. It was hard to tell which Edwards would show up, the complete package, or the fighter who at times was very indecisive and perhaps uninspired.
That would change after a loss to eventual Shooto Champion Tatsuya Kawajiri in late 2003. The loss seemed to crystallize Edward’s career and focus him into taking that last step forward and becoming a fighter whose reputation would finally match his skills. Yves would win his next four in a row, including the famed unofficial lightweight title bout against Josh Thomson at UFC 49, before leaving the US for Pride with the prospects of 155lbs glory.
Upon defeating Dokonojonosuke Mishima in his Pride debut at Bushido 7, Edwards would be invited to participate in the 160lb Grand Prix to determine Pride’s first Lightweight Champion. After losing a very close split decision to Joachim Hansen in the first round of the tournament, Edwards would be given the opportunity to return to the States. This time to revitalize the resurrected 155lb weight class at UFC 58 and possibly take the first step towards getting the belt that many feel is rightfully his.
Opposing Edwards is a young Canadian fighter looking to make his first step towards becoming a star on the world stage after having made his mark in the great white north, Mark Hominick.
In just his fourth year of fighting, Hominick is a lot less experienced than his opponent at UFC 58 is. But don’t let his lack of longevity fool you, Mark is not a fighter to be underestimated in any way. That much was clear right from the start as Hominick blazed his way through his first three bouts, never going the distance in any of them, claiming a Canadian Championship in the process.
Mark would hit a rough patch, losing his next three in a row outside the UCC/TKO organization, but would never lose sight of the bigger picture. Hominick would win two of his next three bouts heading into 2005; intent on making that year his year, and he did just that.
After gaining revenge against the last man to beat him, Shane Rice, in his first fight of the year, Hominick would again return to the form that made him so highly regarded when he first started fighting. He would finish out the year winning all three of his bouts, never going beyond the first round in any of them.
Now after having taken his first fight of the year in January against Pancrase fighter Naoji Fujimoto, Mark is poised to make his debut on MMA’s biggest stage. But in order to do so and become a legitimate contender for the UFC 155lb title, he has to beat the man many feel is “the man” in the division, Yves Edwards.
Both fighters are well-rounded, they can beat you in any position anywhere in the octagon, but there is one major difference. Edwards has faced world class competition nearly every time out over the same period that Hominick has been a fighter. Yves has also gotten over the kind of inconsistency that had plagued Mark in the mid portion of his career, so if anyone is going to be in the driver’s seat of this fight it will most likely be Edwards.
Hominick’s best chance to win this fight could be standing. He’s not as long as Edwards, but Yves can be hit, as Hansen proved in their bout late last year. As long as Mark doesn’t allow Yves to intimidate him and push him around, he can be calm and wait for an opening to exploit. On the ground however he had a distinct disadvantage and must work quickly back up to his feet where he’s got the power to end the fight.
The winner of this bout could see themselves in place for a title shot should the UFC make the full commitment and bring back the Lightweight Championship later in the year. Edward’s place is pretty much guaranteed, so win or lose he will remain in the mix whether he stays with the company or heads back to Japan. Hominick however must win or at least be extremely impressive in defeat if he doesn’t want to end up back in the smaller shows in Canada.
Now that the UFC has finally seen the light and brought back what has been the most exciting and diverse weight class in MMA after years of ignoring it, the company can build upon their recent success and further establish themselves as the dominant MMA organization. For Yves Edwards and Mark Hominick this is an opportunity to further lay claim to their own stardom and come one step closer towards gaining the one thing that has eluded both of them so far, a World Championship.