Mark Hominick file photo | Al Quintero/Sherdog.com
Sherdog’s Round of the Year
By Jordan Breen
Sherdog.com’s “Round of the Year” for 2010 did not take place where one would expect.
The most scintillating back-and-forth did not inhabit a plush Las Vegas venue on The Strip or an attractive, newly minted multi-sport arena in a major U.S. city. It did not play out before tens of thousands of eyes at the beloved Saitama Super Arena or before mere thousands of eyes in the cozy, hallowed halls of iconic Korakuen Hall.
Instead, it somehow seems bizarrely fitting that over 2,300 miles away from Canada’s fight capital of Montreal, on June 20, two Canadians -- Mark Hominick and Yves Jabouin -- would pace and palpitate the hearts of a crowd in the Great White North’s most mocked major city.
WEC 49 taking place in Edmonton was a slight surprise from jump street. In spite of Edmonton’s strong grassroots MMA promotions, such as the Maximum Fighting Championship and The Fight Club, as well as Zuffa’s explicit love for Canada and its MMA fans, it hardly seemed like a desired location. The city, oft-labeled “Deadmonton” by Canadians, is typically viewed as the ugly little sister of nearby Calgary. Its history is a harrowing one. An emerging oil city in the 1960s and 1970s, construction boomed as it built high-rises, condos and sports arenas. Then, the oil boom of 1982 struck. Workers left, population growth screeched to a halt, and fancy, new office buildings were left vacant, like a ghost metropolis.
The city was left with just one thing: sports. However, 1982 was the last of five straight Grey Cups for the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos; they would win just twice more in the next two decades. In 1988 came the Coup de GrÃ¢ce, as beloved hockey icon Wayne Gretzky was traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings. Though the Oilers would go on to another Stanley Cup win in 1990, in the minds of most Canadians outside the city, this single act marks a turning point in which Edmonton completely morphed into a depressing tale of a city crushed in chrysalis, with millions of jilted lovers wondering when Wayne would come back and make everything OK again.
Though these imaginations are obviously hyperbolic, few would expect Edmonton’s Rexall Place, a nearly 40-year-old arena -- a fossil by the current standards of sports venues -- to play host to MMA greatness. Yet, the second round served up by Hominick and Jabouin was a thrill-a-second, 201 of them to be exact, regardless of Rexall’s rep as Deadmonton’s dump.
The opening round of Hominick-Jabouin was impressive in its own right, as Jabouin landed a bevy of hard low kicks, while Hominick slowly got his clean right crosses and lefts to the body stewing. However, the second stanza simply took the action to another level.
The dynamic was similar, as Hominick pumped his jab and landed right crosses, while Jabouin landed sharp low kicks. However, the pace was extraordinary, as both men threw with a volume and tempo that made it seem like they were in a video game. When Hominick dug into Jabouin with his left hook to the liver, Jabouin cracked him with a spinning back fist. When Hominick landed two left hooks to the body, Jabouin returned to kicks to the guts. It was a vivid illustration of tit-for-tat, blow-for-blow. However, the visual was not the only sensory impression; the audio of the hard cracks and smacks of bone and flesh were audible throughout the arena, renowned for its loudness.
Hominick then showed off the kind of handiwork imparted on him by longtime trainer Shawn Tompkins, as he smacked Jabouin with a right cross and faked a left hook up top. The speed of Hominick’s feint caused Jabouin to shell up, and Hominick dipped his shoulder and smashed his hook into the tip of Jabouin’s liver. Jabouin crumpled into the fence, and Hominick pounced, pelting him with punches while referee Vern Gorman looked in closely.
The left to the body is prizefighting’s unique poison, leaving the victim sentient but usually paralyzed. And yet, under fire, a wounded “Tiger” somehow got back to his feet against the cage. He tried to fight back, abating Hominick’s attack with a hard spinning elbow. However, the maneuver simply allowed Hominick to momentarily take his back and deliver more punishment.
Jabouin fought back to his feet. Wobbly and desperate, he launched a sweeping left uppercut. Hominick easily avoided the uppercut but did not see the follow-up right hook coming.
Jabouin’s right collided with Hominick’s face with shocking impact, dropping the Ontarian to the canvas and turning up the decibel level of the Rexall Place even louder, as it seemed he might be moments away from a tremendous comeback.
Jabouin dove into Hominick’s guard with sweeping punches, looking to close the show, but Hominick gained wrist control and threatened with an armbar to stem Jabouin’s offense. Suddenly, when it looked like the frenetic pace might lull momentarily, Hominick dug under Jabouin’s thigh and pulled off a textbook pendulum sweep, just as smoothly as you would see in an instructional.
“The Machine” took full mount and did not look back. Hominick smashed Jabouin to the head, all while maintaining his stand-up sensibilities, landing crushing rights and lefts into the sternum of Jabouin while perched on top of him. The body blows from mount seems to take the last bit of starch out of Jabouin, who could simply no longer keep up with the torrid pace and offense of Hominick. Hominick punched and punched and punched until Gorman had seen enough, halting the bout at 3:21 of the frame.
Typically, great rounds are built solely on rollercoaster violence and the sheer awe that so much action could be packed into a five-minute period. Yet, Hominick and Jabouin needed just over half a round to stage this year’s finest. To be sure, it had the sudden, shocking swings in action, the near-stoppages that typically mark great rounds. However, what really set it apart from its contemporaries was the tempo and technique of the action delivered.
In just 201 seconds, Hominick and Jabouin threw 124 strikes. That’s 37 strikes per minute; April’s wild slugfest between Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung averaged about 26.8 strikes per minute. And yet, Hominick-Jabouin was, technically speaking, the exact opposite of Garcia-Jung. There was no rapacious headhunting or blind windmilling of punches. Every Jabouin low kick and spinning back fist, every Hominick right cross and left hook to the body, was thrown true and proper but with a staggering rapidity.
Hominick and Jabouin might have been two Canadian fighters in front of a Canadian audience, but that night in Edmonton, they seemed more like Italian conductors, and their tempo was nothing less than prestissimo, prestissimo con fuoco.
As for Edmonton, five days later, its Oilers selected Taylor Hall first overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Hall has joined a cast of fellow scintillating youngsters in Edmonton. Despite still being on a bottom-five team, they are starting to amaze on the ice and giving Edmontonians hope for a future where thrills at Rexall Place -- thrills like the kind Hominick and Jabouin produced -- are more commonplace, especially in the month of June, when Lord Stanley’s Cup is awarded.
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