Robert Whitaker's Wrestling Coach

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by dsdoubled, Jun 6, 2018.

  1. dsdoubled

    dsdoubled Brown Belt

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    I have been watching Robert Whitaker's career for quite a while now and am extremely impressed by the fighter he has become. As far as I know, up until fairly recently (maybe 1-1.5 years) Whitaker was fighting primarily out of PMA Martial Arts in Australia under head coach Henrry Perez. It looks like Perez is a guy with a varied martial arts background that includes a lot of traditional striking arts. Obviously Whitaker became a very good 170 pound fighter with this guy.

    Fast forward to today and Whitaker is the 185 pound champion and looking outstanding. It seems that Whitaker's ascension to champion has been assisted greatly by a few things:
    1 Size. No more draining weight cut to WW has allowed him to fill out significantly.
    2 Time. He has more experience and is coming into his own as a fighter.
    3 Wrestling. Whitaker has seemingly embraced wrestling a whole lot and as most of you know, he even won a National Freestyle title. I know Aussie wrestling has never been very strong internationally, but they do have a small group of very good homegrown wrestlers who have been at it a long time AND quite a few world class wrestlers who have relocated to Australia and gotten involved in the wrestling scene.

    Which brings me to the point of this thread. A year or so ago Whitaker started dropping the name Fabricio Itte in interviews when he would be asked about his training (specifically, his wrestling training). He started out naming Itte as his wrestling/Takedown coach and now it looks like Itte can be considered his head coach.

    Does anyone know anything about this guy Fabricio Itte? I looked him up a bit and while it's clear he is plugged into the Australian wrestling scene, I couldn't find a thing about his background.
     
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  2. Uchi Mata

    Uchi Mata Preaching the gospel of heel hooks and left kicks

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    I am also interested, because it's not just that Whittaker became a decent wrestler, he was perfectly able to hold his own against Yoel Romero while working with one blown out knee for 25 minutes. He became a pretty terrific wrestler, at least by MMA standards. His use of the cage to get back to his feet, and the way he never ever lets the momentum stop when defending TDs, is pretty amazing stuff considering he started so late in life (or course he's a pretty fantastic athlete, which doesn't hurt).
     
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  3. dsdoubled

    dsdoubled Brown Belt

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    What little I found was that he is also a Bjj coach under the Gracie banner (not sure which Gracie lineage), he is a wrestling coach, and an MMA coach. I assumed he was a Brazilian transplant when I read his name but after seeing/hearing him speak on the latest countdown show he sounds like he is Australian. I guess its not terribly farfetched that a guy with years of Bjj and wrestling coaching experience could take an athlete like Whitaker to the level he is at (the best 97 kilo wrestler in Australia), but like you said, hanging in there with Romero suggests he must be a damn good coach.
     
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  4. ArtemV

    ArtemV Gold Belt

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    Don't forget the extra T in Whittaker!

    But yeah, I think regardless of what country you are from, if you learn wrestling basics in any country, you should have a good standing in any mma grappling/wrestling situation. Basics are basics and provide a great understanding and it doesn't hurt that Whittaker has had quite good success on the Australian circuit.
     
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  5. dsdoubled

    dsdoubled Brown Belt

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    Also, Australia has some big time freestylers competing and coaching for them for quite a few years now. World medalists, Olympians, Iranian national team guys, etc. And the cool thing is, they are almost all involved in MMA so I'm sure Bobby Knuckles has trained with him. Especially now that he's a National Champ.
     
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  6. tekkenfan

    tekkenfan Purple Belt

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    he showed some great tdd in round 3 vs romero great hips
     
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  7. leaf22

    leaf22 White Belt

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    He qualified to represent Australia in freestyle st the commonwealth games too. UFC made him pull out tho.
     
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  8. dsdoubled

    dsdoubled Brown Belt

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    The crazy thing is, he would have a very strong chance at repping Australia at the 2020 Olympics if that's what he wants to do. Australia has a legit world level guy at 97 kilos but I believe 2020 would be his 3rd or 4th Olympic cycle and he's getting old. I wonder if this is in Whittaker's plans.
     
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  9. Dirty Holt

    Dirty Holt Black Belt Professional Fighter

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    This isnt really true. Just making the Olympic team doesnt get you to the Olympics. You have to qualify. For a guy with a few years experience, getting out of the easiest qualifier would be very tough. Making it at another qualifier is impossible for him. Once they started doing qualifiers, Australia has sent 5 freestylers to the Olympics in 18 years, none of them born in Australia. Whittaker would have a million to one shot.
     
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  10. dsdoubled

    dsdoubled Brown Belt

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    I know someone would still have to qualify the weight for Australia to compete at the games. I was thinking many/most of the best 97 kilo guys will have already qualified through the previous years world championships and a few others through earlier qualifiers. If Whittaker could make the finals of his continental championship He's qualified. This is his best chance. Or maybe through the commonwealth games (I'm not sure if that functions as a qualifier). If not those then maybe one of the last 2 qualifying tournaments. Its a long shot but not as long as you're saying.
     
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  11. JustOnce

    JustOnce Brown Belt

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    I was always under the impression that wrestling ins australia is garbage and when I heard that he did what he did for his country, i was a lot more shocked at how shitty wrestling scene must be down there.

    Now, they were talking about back then GSP trying out for olympics or whatever but it never took off i guess, but I am fairly sure GSP wouldn't have been able to be ranked number 1 in Canada in his weight class, and Canada isn't really a strong wrestling powerhouse either.
     
  12. dsdoubled

    dsdoubled Brown Belt

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    No doubt Australian wrestling is week. However, over the last 10 years or so they've had a few guys come over from Uzbekistan, Albania, Iran, India , etc to compete and more importantly to coach. As a result the program is growing and I predict the quality of their wrestling will improve. As for Whittaker, I would think he has a decent shot at being an Olympian for the reasons I stated above. Winning the oceanic championship shouldn't be any tougher than winning an Aussie national title.

    As for GSP, he was training for the 2008 Olympics when he got the call to replace Serra and fight Matt Hughes for the 3rd time. GSP was an interesting case bc he was really training hard and with fantastic people. He spent a lot of time at the University of Northern Colorado, a DI school, and even more time with Canada's best coaches and wrestlers. We're talking about world champs, Olympians, world medalists, etc. Guys like Gia Sissouri, Victor and David Zilberman, and others. GSP being such an amazing athlete and all around top notch grappled, I thought he had a shot. The tough part for him would be been his weight. Canada's74 kilo guy was really really good in Matt Gentry. He was an NCAA DI Champ who placed 5th at the Olympics. The Canadian competition at 85 kilos wasn't nearly as stiff but that wouldve been a bit big for GSP. Its an interesting thing to ponder for sure.
     
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  13. Dirty Holt

    Dirty Holt Black Belt Professional Fighter

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    Only the top 3 from the previous years world championships qualify. I can promise you, no one from Australia will be on that list. Whitaker would have to qualify through the easiest of all qualifiers, by winning the Oceana & African Olympic qualifier. He would have to beat a guy from either Egypt, Tunisia, or Nigeria, the best countries at most weights. That would be extremely tough to do wrestling a few hours a week. Getting through any other qualifier after that, its 0%. Americans who wrestle their entire lives and are 2-3x NCAA champions who get paid to train FS all day get through these qualifiers less than 30%. There are Olympic champions who sometimes cannot get through these qualifiers. They are tougher than almost any other tournament. To put it in to perspective, not a single person in freestyle has ever qualified through one of these tournaments from the Oceana and African region.
     
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  14. Cappy Goodtime

    Cappy Goodtime Hide yo wife. Hide yo neck.

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    So what you're saying is, he's got a chance!
     
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  15. dsdoubled

    dsdoubled Brown Belt

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    For Rio the top 6 wrestlers/countries from the previous year's world championships qualified, not top 3. And I think you misunderstood my point about that. I meant, most of the top guys from around the world will have already qualified from the previous year's worlds, so that takes the 6 best wrestlers/countries out of the field. As for continental championship's, I believe it's the top 2 that qualify, so make the finals and your in. All this considered, Whittaker has a slim chance but possibly attainable. I look at it this way, Australia has sent 86-97 kilo wrestlers to the Olympics before, so if Whittaker is now the top guy at that weight he should have a shot.
     
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  16. samass03

    samass03 White Belt

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    Something I have noticed is more and more Australian fighters in the UFC embracing their Australian camps and not going overseas as much for extended trips.

    Whittaker was at Tristar for a little bit but obviously didn't like it and since cementing his training in Sydney he is clearly to be getting the best results of his career.

    Itte is definitely his head coach working out of Gracie JJ Smeaton Grange (Sydney). He also does seem to workout with Ali Abdo, an Australian Olympian in freestyle and Greco, before his fights.

    He has a group of like 4-5 trusted pro fighters that he trains with at various places and that's it, a lot of other top Australians are following suit and not going to the USA as much.
     
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  17. dsdoubled

    dsdoubled Brown Belt

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    Ali Abdo is one of the wrestlers I was referring to when I said that Australia does have a few homegrown wrestlers who have made it to the Olympics at 86-97 kilos. Actually, when Whittaker 1st won the Aussie National title in freestyle and wrestled at 97 kilos (as opposed to 86 which is closer to what he fights MMA at) I thought that maybe had something to do with the fact that Abdo wrestled and won at 86 kilos that same tournament. Either they were teammates or Whitaker didn't want to face him. Or he didn't want to cut weight.
     
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  18. miscend

    miscend Yellow Belt

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    I’ve noticed that Whittaker in interviews specifically says he’s a brown belt in GJJ. Like there is even a difference. Honestly it’s all just BJJ. I think he’s trying to be elitist.
     
  19. jack36767

    jack36767 Brown Belt

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    What’s funny about that is GJJ guys usually frown on training “pure” wrestling lololol
     
  20. dsdoubled

    dsdoubled Brown Belt

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    Is that still the case? I remember back in like 2014-2016 a few Gracies were trying to qualify to wrestle at the Olympics. I suppose that could've been motivated by having the Olympics in their home city but they did decently well.
     
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