Bitetti Discusses Nogueira's Ground Game


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Amaury Bitetti is one of the most important names in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

A Carlson Gracie black belt, he was the first man to win the BJJ world open-weight championship twice, in 1996 and 1997.

Now Bitetti is the jiu-jitsu coach of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Pictures) and his new team. He helped "Minotauro" prepare for Saturday's showdown against Tim Sylvia (Pictures) for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 81.

"We worked on guard passing and so he doesn't lose any position," Bitetti told Sherdog.com. "We trained a lot on ground control, the full-mount, attacks to the arms, if he loses the full-mount to take the back, etcetera. We are emphasizing the takedowns to submissions, without losing the position, working from the top until the submission."

Bitetti trusts in Nogueira's ability, but he points out that Sylvia's reach is one of the American's best assets going into the bout.

"His reach will be trouble," Bitetti said. "Rodrigo will have to be careful on his feet. If he gets his face hit, he must take a step back. Because Tim Sylvia (Pictures), in addition to his good jab, has a strong right hand. He has to be careful about his counters. Rodrigo will have to look for the inside, shorten the distance, and in the striking, try to take him down and get on top."

The black belt analyzed Nogueira's ground game by saying he had a fluid submission style that needed altering.

"Now he is changing his game a little because of the UFC rules, because the rounds have five minutes, where he can't be that fluid and lose positions," Bitetti said. "He is adding details to his game, like holding better, like the judo fighters. He knows how to hold opponents better without giving them spaces to get out, like he did before, when he fought in 10-minute rounds. Today, in five-minute rounds, he can't lose any position."

After years of competing, Bitetti now has the challenge of leading the BJJ training for a team full of great fighters, including the Nogueira brothers, Junior Cigano and Rafael Feijão.

"It's a great challenge, and I like it," Bitetti said. "I always helped Rodrigo on his BJJ, since the time he was with BTT. I was always on his side. I think this makes my history in BJJ and MMA greater. I fought great guys during my time, when there were no weight divisions. Plus I competed a lot in BJJ. Now I'm teaching some of my experiences."

The Brazilian is very excited with this new team and hopes for a great future with his athletes.

"This team will get very strong," Bitetti said. "There are a lot of good people training with us. We will [expect] not only a title for ‘Minotauro,' but for many others from our gym."

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