Holly Holm returned to the win column with a picture-perfect head kick over Bethe Correia in the main event of UFC Fight Night 111 in Singapore on June 17, and a question mark specialist is proud of her knockout.
Glaube Feitosa, the man responsible for the question mark kick which is also known as the Brazilian kick, is a black belt in kyokushin karate who competed against some of the best strikers in the world in the K-1 ring for 11 years. He defeated Alistair Overeem via knockout in 2004.
Feitosa has finished fights with the question mark kick, and has landed it several times throughout his career, including one that rocked 6-foot-11 Semmy Schilt.
"The left kick was my specialty, and that’s the kick she connected,” Feitosa told MMA Fighting. "In my opinion, to be more effective, the left kick lands better on a right-handed, and that’s what happened. She was in southpaw stance and Bethe was facing her leg, and she landed it perfectly. Faked the body and landed on top."
Correia was standing in front of Holm when the former UFC bantamweight champion attacked, and Feitosa says it was a huge mistake.
"It’s hard to stop it because it’s a kick that plays with your reflexes, your instincts,” he said. "If you keep your hand away from your face, it lands. Bethe should have walked to her left side, to Holm’s back and away from the leg. The way she was, standing in front of her, Holm just adjusted the distance and threw the kick. It would have been harder if Bethe was moving.
"MMA fighters usually don’t keep their hands up, close to the face. It’s easy to keep your hands like that in K-1 fights because the glove is bigger and you don’t have to worry about takedowns. Holm correctly adjusted the position, and Bethe wasn’t expecting this kick because it’s unusual.”
Another thing that contributed to Holm’s spectacular finish, Feitosa says, is that the Brazilian decided to stand in front of her opponent and taunt, giving Holm an opening to throw the kick one more time.
"You can taunt, but you can’t lose focus on what you have to do,” Feitosa said. "If you stand there and don’t move you can go down because this is a kick that plays with your reflexes. If you try to stop a kick to the body, the hand goes down and opens space on top. It’s hard to control this instinct."
The question mark kick is not a usual kick in MMA, but Feitosa thinks it should be.
"It’s really efective in MMA,” he said. "I landed it in K-1 with bigger gloves and hands high, imagine that in MMA with smaller gloves and hands away from the face… You’d see a lot of those kicks.
"I don’t know Holm in person and never saw her training, but this kick demands a lot of leg and hip stretching, and practice. You have to adjust your body, perfectly turn your opposite foot, and train it every day in your strategy, in sparring. But, in my opinion, MMA fighters don't focus too much on stretching. You have to stretch every day, then you’d see this kick more often."
A fan of Jose Aldo’s leg kicks and Edson Barboza’s kicking game, Feitosa was part of Vitor Belfort’s camp for his 2013 clash with Luke Rockhold, when he finished the future UFC middleweight champion with a spinning back kick.
Feitosa has occasionally worked with MMA fighters, and sees potential in one of Holm’s teammates for question mark kicks.
"A guy that could use this kick — I don’t know about his stretching — is Jon Jones,” Feitosa said. "With that reach, those long legs and movement, being so tall… If he starts using that kick, his opponents would get lost."