Four Fighters Leave American Top Team Amidst Apparent Contract Dispute

March 10, 2011

JZ Cavalcante

JZ Cavalcante

Four of the top fighters from American Top Team have split with the Florida based program and are now training independently for their upcoming fights.

Danillo Villefort first broke the news when appearing on MMAWeekly Radio prior to his fight in Shark Fights 14 against Matt Horwich.

“No,” Villefort answered when asked if he was still with American Top Team. “Now I’m just working with JZ (Cavalcante), Jorge (Santiago) and my brother Yuri (Villefort).”

Sources have indicated to that contract issues were at the heart of the fighters leaving American Top Team, but no further details have been released at this time.

Representatives from ATT did post on the Underground Forum, simply stating that the fighters left the gym on their own accord, and were not kicked out as some rumors had originally stated.

“Just saw the thread about JZ, Jorge and the Villefort brothers leaving ATT and the questions that arose. To be clear, these four made the decision to leave ATT. They were not asked to leave. They requested a meeting with team management, advised that they wanted to train elsewhere, and requested that ATT release them from their agreements. We accommodated their request. Any rumors regarding them being kicked off of the team are untrue. We wish them the best of luck in the future.”

All four fighters who left the gym had been mainstays of American Top Team for several years. This also adds onto Strikeforce heavyweight Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva who split with ATT last year as well.

While Villefort is training for his main event fight in Shark Fights 14 this weekend, Santiago is preparing for his return to the UFC in May in a bout against Brian Stann. As of now Cavalcante and Yuri Villefort have not scheduled their next fights.

Villefort did state that the foursome will continue to work together in Florida for the time being, but no word has come yet if they will form a new team starting in the Sunshine state or work with new trainers.

Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for
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