Ricardo Liborio’s departure from American Top Team had nothing to do with Colby Covington, ATT owner Dan Lambert told MMA Fighting. And Lambert was furious that it was depicted that way.
Per Lambert, Liborio left the team two years ago to move to Orlando due to his daughter’s medical issues. Lambert said Liborio was still on the ATT payroll as of “five or six months ago,” but he hasn’t had ties to the gym since then, aside from cornering a few ATT fighters.
In an Instagram post Monday, Liborio renounced ATT fighter Colby Covington’s remarks about the Brazilian crowd at UFC Sao Paulo last weekend. In the same post, Liborio also said he was no longer the head coach of American Top Team. Since no one ever made that information public before, many deduced that Liborio was leaving the gym due to Covington’s comments by how the post was framed. Lambert was angry that Liborio was insinuating something like that.
I feel that I must make a statement in light of the comments made by Colby Convigton along with the amount of messages sent to me from Brazil, the United States, and from all over the world. I'm here to state that I am no longer with American Top Team. Also, I absolutely do not condone any behavior that instigates hate, prejudice, or bullying of any kind. It upsets me to see the sport taking this direction of blatant disrespect. It’s unsportsmanlike, but it also fosters and promotes a culture of cruelty towards others. Combat Sports should always represent the qualities of humility, empathy, and respect. I dedicated my life to the Martial arts, and to the formation and growth of this team. I can not discuss at this time the reasons for my departure from ATT. At some point, I will. For the time being, I want the members of ATT to know that they will always be in my heart❤
“I counted him among my good friends,” Lambert said. “I’m f*cking stunned that he would put out something misleading like that to put himself over. It really pisses me off. It really rubs me the wrong way. … It’s just not right. What the f*ck? Get over yourself.”
Lambert said Liborio left two years ago and the two agreed that Liborio would remain getting paid by ATT if he came down to Coconut Creek from Orlando two or three days per week to perform duties as coach. It didn’t happen that way, Lambert said.
“I agreed to keep him on the payroll as long as he came down to the gym and trained the guys a couple days a week,” Lambert said. “He agreed and never showed up.”
After 18 months of that situation, Lambert said Liborio admitted that he wouldn’t be able to live up to the arrangement and financial ties were cut between the two sides. Lambert said that was it — “he gave me a hug and then he left.” There were no hard feelings, until this week.
“There’s a lot of f*cking tension right now,” Lambert said. “There was none whatsoever before. I kept the guy on my payroll for 18 months.
“Libo is my friend. He’s been my friend for 15 years. He’s got some family issues. I think I did him a solid by keeping him on the payroll for a year and a half.”
Lambert said he never released an announcement about Liborio’s departure, because he didn’t think the public gives coaches and teams that kind of attention.
“I never announced anything,” Lambert said. “I didn’t want to throw him under a bus and say he’s not with the team anymore. Whatever. There was no need to — who cares? But then for him to somehow try to imply that he left the team to be a martyr for the honor of Brazil? That’s a bad move. That’s misleading, it’s deceitful. It just shocked me.
“I don’t think anyone cares. People don’t care about coaches. It’s an individual sport. People care about fighters. Nobody cares about Liborio or me or Conan [Silveira] or our coaches. They just don’t. I don’t have an ego big enough to think people give a shit.”
After beating Demian Maia last Saturday, Covington continued his trash talk against the host city of Sao Paulo. He said Brazil was a “dump” and those in attendance were “filthy animals.” On his way out of the arena, the furious crowd booed and threw things at him. Covington had to be escorted back to the hotel by security and was put on lockdown in his room until he was taken to the airport.
Liborio was one of a few Brazil natives involved with ATT to renounce Covington’s comments. Antonio Silva and UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes were among the others. In a statement to MMA Fighting, Liborio said be does not “condone any behavior that instigates hate, prejudice, or bullying of any kind.”
“It upsets me to see the sport taking this direction of blatant disrespect,” he said. “It’s unsportsmanlike, but it also fosters and promotes a culture of cruelty towards others. Combat sports should always represent the qualities of humility, empathy, and respect.
“I dedicated my life to the martial arts, and to the formation and growth of this team and I want the members of ATT to know that they will always be in my heart.”
In the statement, Liborio said he left American Top Team “approximately 3 months ago.” The coach has said he moved to Orlando because of his daughter’s medical issue, but declined to go into any more specifics about his departure from the team he helped found more than a decade ago.