When I called Mark Hominick to double check that our interview was still a go, he had to fight to make his voice heard over his young daughter who was rather upset. Parenthood isn’t the fight Hominick has been dealing with most of his life, but it’s one he knows will be more rewarding. The fight he’s used to? Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC).

Until recently, when he retired, Mark Hominick was one of the elite athletes that thousands watch weekly. An industry shown worldwide, and known as the largest mixed martial arts promotion company in the world. An industry where the objective is to, simply, win in a real fight using any form of martial arts you’re trained with, from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to Muay Thai. Only the best in the sport can fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and Hominick is one of the best for his weight-class.

That’s why it was exciting to talk to him. Not to mention we went to the same high school (him a while before me) and had some of the same teachers. Interesting Canadians always get to me, but interesting Ingersoll District Collegiate Institute students? Even better.

When Hominick went to enter the octagon for his first professional fight, he thought he would be nervous, and who wouldn’t be? Around 20 years old at the time, only a little older than I am now, he entered to fight Richard Nancoo. Nancoo came into the fight with a record of five career wins, one draw, no losses and professional bouts for four years versus the small country boy Mark Hominick. A realization befell him, he wasn’t nervous anymore while walking up. He was prepared, excited, and wanted to get fighting. Obviously, prepared was right. Two minutes and thirty-four seconds into the third round, referee Yves Lavigne called it. Hominick wos with a technical knockout using punches and elbows. A great start, to an eleven-year career. A career of excelling in the Featherweight division (136-145 pounds), working with his mentor the late Shawn Tompkins, a round of pushups in the octagon after every win and fighting for the world title.

I had to ask right away, what did his family think of his UFC career. In a way, it was the answer I was expecting. They weren’t really fans of it, and I guess that’s agreeable and relatable to every parent, Hominick now included. His mother never attended a fight, Hominick thinks it’s probably since it would be rather nerve racking for her. His wife preferred to watch live, saying it was better than on television. His late father on the other hand did what I feel parents are best for, worked as a support system.

The elder Hominick would go watch his son fight, then leave after (not watching any other fights). This showed that he was always there for his son, not the sport. Then I asked about what his young daughter thought in regards to it. Being too young to verbalize, she would point to his wounds and say “ow”. This was something that he didn’t want his daughter to witness, but the bumps and bruises were reminders of his violent work.

Part of the reason he retired was so his children wouldn’t have to see the reminders of the sport all the time. As he says, when his children are as young as they are, it’s better that they don’t get the full vision of it or really watch his bouts. It’s hard for them to realize that this is martial arts as a sport compared to fighting out of anger.

In my opinion, it’s hard to remember watching the fights and knowing they have parents who may be watching, spouses sitting in the crowds or young children at home, all watching their loved one fight. This is only another job though, and every job leaves its mark. Hominick strongly believes that his parents would have much preferred that he stuck with his four business degree from the University of Windsor, maybe that’s in the cards for the future though.

Business degrees are for another day, back to the fights. Hominick has made appearances in stadiums from Quebec to Hawaii, Alberta to Texas, Illinois to Nevada and others in between. When asked, his personal favourite was Montreal, Quebec. This is where he spent his first few years. Hominick feelt like he became one of Montreal and Quebec’s own. Needless to say, fighting in Las Vegas on the Vegas strip (fight capital of the world) sticks in his mind and always will.

His most memorable was a fight that made UFC history. UFC 129, hosted at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. Only eight months after the legalization of mixed martial arts in Ontario, they planned on hosting a bout. All 55,000 seats sold out, making a gate revenue exceeding $11 million dollars. This was the night Hominick would be facing the Brazilian Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight championship. This event broke records, including shattering gate records not only for Mixed Martial Arts in Canada, but in North America. With a final scoring of 48-45 for Aldo, Hominick just barely missed the title.

A year and a half (and three fights later), Hominick released the news that he would be retiring from fighting. He had children, and a wife. They wanted to start settling down as a family. As he says, “the hardest part of the UFC is the constant grind”, training six days a week, for hours at a time. From now there’s the idea that he’ll do some sports analyst jobs for FOX news and Sportsnet, maybe living up to that business degree, but not nearly as much fighting.

Going back to his small home, he’s proud to be back. He gets to be with his same friends from elementary and high school. He also gets to raise his children in an atmosphere that’s meant a lot to him and that he knows is a good one. He reminds me that no matter what you do, you should follow your passion. If you really believe that this is something you want to do, UFC or otherwise, nothing should be able to get in your way saying otherwise. From a small town in Ontario, with a population of 17,48 came a man who fought in front of 55,000. Anything can happen if you try.