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Colby Covington confirms split from American Top Team after being removed from team website

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Colby Covington has left the building.

The former UFC interim welterweight champion has split with American Top Team after training at the Coconut Creek, Fla., gym since he first transitioned from college wrestling into MMA.

Covington confirmed the move during an interview with The Score on Wednesday, one day after he was removed from the team roster on the American Top Team website.

“I am a member of Colby Covington incorporated,” he said. “I am a member of Colby Covington business, Colby Covington team, everything. This is my team now.”

Covington has been at odds with several of his now former teammates for the past few years. That eventually led to American Top Team co-founder Dan Lambert issuing an edict that teammates were no longer allowed to talk trash against each other unless a fight between them was scheduled.

Covington appeared to mock the rule and said other fighters – including Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Dustin Poirier and Jorge Masvidal, all of whom he’s feuded with publicly – were using it against him.

“Oh, I’m a pro fighter, but I’m going to go to Dan Lambert, [and say], ‘Hey Dan, I don’t want to fight him in the cage because I know I can’t beat him, but Dan, can you protect my precious little feelings?’

“Our soldiers put it all on the line for our freedoms – you can’t suppress my freedom of speech, my freedom of opinion. You can’t take that away. This is the Ultimate Fighting Championship – this isn’t the ‘Ultimate Feelings Championship.’ Just because Joanna, Dustin, Jorge want to come to him and cry like little babies, that’s not fair. I didn’t want to put him in that situation where they’re going to keep harping on him.”

Covington’s criticism was cut with praise for Lambert. The former interim champ said he “owed that guy everything” and added the owner is still a friend and mentor.

“But I fulfilled my debts there,” Covington said. “He did these great opportunities, and we went to the top together and won a world title. But was also able to do something for him something that no other fighter is ever going to be able to, and that’s take him to the White House. We had a great relationship, and I’m glad I was able to give him something back.

“There’s no ill will or hard feelings toward American Top Team or Dan Lambert. It’s just a business decision and nothing more.”

Lambert told MMA Fighting he and Covington are “good” after a “mutual parting” and wished the fighter well in his next move.

The team’s trash-talking rule didn’t stop Covington from taking shots at targets like “BMF” champion Jorge Masvidal, and Masvidal almost immediately took aim at Covington. The war of words between the welterweights has not stopped since.

Covington claimed he never broke the rule, though a trash-talk filled interview “slipped out,” for which he apologized. Still, he said the writing was on the wall once it was put into place. According to sources, he actually stopped training full time at American Top Team several months ago.

“Now at Colby Covington incorporated, you direct your complaints to me - you don’t direct your complaints to Dan Lambert,” Covington said. “So Jorge Masvidal, Dustin Poirier, you’ve got complaints? Come to me. Let’s settle them in the cage. But you don’t want to do that. You know what will happen. We trained together for nine years.

“Now, all the gloves are off. No matter what happened in the past, ‘Doofus’ Dustin, the little cuck, who’s out here running [his mouth] about my name and he’s hurt in his feelings – OK, boy. You want to talk to the media? You’re going to come beat me up? Come try and fight me. And same for ‘Street Judas” Masvidal – you’re so hard, you’re a 50-50 fighter. You don’t even want to fight for the title against [Kamaru Usman] because you’re scared you’re going to get exposed.”

Covington most recently fought in Dec. 2019, when he came up short in his bid to capture the undisputed UFC welterweight title in a war with reigning champion Kamaru Usman.

Since that time, Covington has expressed interest in a rematch with Usman as well as settling a longstanding grudge with former teammate Tyron Woodley, But neither fight has been booked.

Covington said he’s in the process of putting together a new team and said the move “was the best change that could have ever happened to me.” American Top Team, meanwhile, remains shuttered to the general public as a part of statewide guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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