The mixed martial arts world took a collective gasp when Ricardo Liborio, co-founder of the Coconut Creek, Florida based American Top Team, announced via social media that he was leaving the brand he built.
The news comes in the wake of one of his athletes, UFC welterweight Colby Covington disrespecting the people and country of Brazil in last weekend’s UFC: Brunson vs. Machida match in Sao Paulo.
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
3,070 Likes, 239 Comments – Ricardo Liborio (@liboriobjj) on Instagram: “I feel that I must make a statement in light of the comments made by Colby Convigton along with the…”
Liborio was one of the primary forces behind the powerhouse fight team that was founded in 2001 in South Florida and became one of the staple feeder organizations for the UFC, Bellator and all other major and minor MMA organizations. With fighters like UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, former MMA champions Robbie Lawler, Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal and more, ATT is one of the sport’s premiere purveyors of combat talent.
In a full statement given to MMAFighting.com, Liborio states that “[he] left the team approximately 3 months ago and that [he] want the members of ATT to know that they will always be in [his] heart.”
Liborio founded American Top Team alongside financier Dan Lambert and the Silveira brothers, Conan and Marcelo.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he began studying Judo at a young age. He later took up tae kwon do and boxing and eventually began training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the Carlson Gracie academy in Copacabana, which produced black belts such as for UFC champion Vitor Belfort and Andr Pederneiras (head coach to Jose Aldo) among the few. Librio received his black belt from Carlson Gracie in 1993 at the age of 26.
In 1996, Librio entered the first ever World Jiu-Jitsu Championship colloquially called Mundials, winning a gold medal in the super heavyweight division over Leo Castello Branco. He was awarded the title of “Most Technical Black Belt” in that tournament. In 2000, Librio competed in the International Masters Mundials under his middle name, Antnio Jardim, taking gold in the middle-heavyweight division.
There was a rift in the American Top Team fighter ranks a few years ago when team members “Suga” Rashad Evans, Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante, Danilo and Yuri Villefort and Anthony Johnson left for then upstart gym, The Blackzillians. The rivalry sparked the theme for the 21st season of The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. The Blackzillians back in 2015.
Liborio fostered the careers of MMA pioneers Din Thomas and Yves Edwards along with MMA headlining mainstays like Thiago Alves, Thiago Silva, Antonio “Big Foot” Silva, Mike Brown, Brad Pickett and many more.
Him leaving the industry will have a profound effect as MMA continues to grow beyond the tutelage of its establishing class and veteran trainers like Liborio.