Until 2013, Vitor Belfort was primarily feared for his awe inspiring punching power that he’s used to put away men like Rich Franklin and Yoshihiro Akiyama in his latest run with the UFC. Thanks to his jaw dropping victories over Michael Bisping and particularly Luke Rockhold, the MMA world is keenly aware that his arsenal now includes vicious, highlight reel kicks. Regardless of whether you’re a Belfort booster or not, it’s hard not to give him and his coaches credit, for diversifying his striking attack in such an impressive manner.
One of the men behind Belfort’s recent success is the renowned Henri Hooft, who is the striking coach for the Blackzilians team in Florida. In a recent interview with MMA Fighting.com, Hooft discussed the rise of spinning kick attacks in MMA, and of course, how Belfort has incorporated them into his game. When asked in the lengthy interview how Belfort came to learn and use the spinning kick, which he showcased so brilliantly versus Rockhold in May, Hooft said:
We were training for the [Michael] Bisping fight and Vitor is very creative. He does a lot of nice things in his fights. He asked me, ‘Coach, I want to do this kick. What do you think about this?’ So we started doing this after every training, after our training for the stuff we have to do for the fights and then we’re going to do the thing extra.
If you want to do it, you do it, just for fun because again, I’m really strict with my fighters. I want them to do the simple stuff first. And then we started doing stuff and it worked and I saw he was doing it very hard and very explosive. It doesn’t really bother his body. He doesn’t really get out of balance. He does it perfectly, very good. So for me, somebody like that, it’s very easy to train.
I train a kickboxer before, his name was Peter Aerts, one of the best fighters ever in kickboxing. We never trained on this kick because when he does a turning kick, he falls on the floor. He’s not athletic enough and flexible enough to do this kick. Vitor is. That’s why it just happened. ‘Let’s do it coach, every training’. And before the fight with Rockhold, he just said, ‘Let’s do some extra stuff. Let’s do the turning kick.’ And he did the turning kick in the fight. The first one was missed and then he saw the guy moving to that side and the second time, let’s do it again.
Interesting, and it will also be fascinating to see how Belfort develops and uses the kicks in future bouts. There’s no doubt Gegard Mousasi has already given this some thought…Belfort does not have his next fight booked yet.