Ricardo Liborio, one of the co-founders of American Top Team, gave his thoughts on ATT fighter Colby Covington’s recent statements in Brazil.
If Colby Covington was hoping to solidify his heel turn at UFC Sao Paulo, he may have done a little too good a job. The top-ranked UFC welterweight took a unanimous decision over Demian Maia – in a contest that solidified the American’s spot as one of the best talents at 170lbs – and then used his post-fight mic time to call Brazil a “dump,” and rail against the “filthy animals” that live there.
Covington was escorted from the cage under a hail of garbage from an irate crowd, having successfully carved himself out a spot as a public villain. But if it is all a show for the crowd, Covington’s actions have been garnering some more personal criticisms.
Some members of his gym have made it clear they’re less than impressed by their teammate. And now one of ATT’s former head coaches – and one of the gym’s co-founders – has released a statement denouncing Covington’s post-fight speech to MMA Fighting.
“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,” wrote former ATT grappling coach Ricardo Liborio.
“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 and I want the members of ATT to know that they will always be in my heart.”
It should be noted that ATT is a massive gym. And that could easily mean Covington is able to keep training there without running into too many personality clashes. After all, Joanna Jedrzejczyk has made it work despite a rocky beginning. However, it hardly seems wise for a fighter to position themselves as a divisive force in their own camp. And it may mean that Covington’s message results in more fallout than intended.