No Holds Barred: Ricardo Liborio, ADCC Stars Superfight Champion

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On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and grappling legend Ricardo Liborio, who is the co-founder and head instructor of American Top Team (

Now at age 48, he competed in the ADCC Stars Superfight on August 29 at the 2015 ADCC Submission Fighting World Championship, which was held August 29-30 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The ADCC Submission Fighting World Championship is the most important and prestigious grappling tournament in the world, and as always featured competition in no-gi grappling.

His opponent was fellow 48-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and grappling legend Ze Mario Sperry, who had defeated Renzo Gracie at ADCC 2011 and Fabio Gurgel at ADCC 2013 in those Stars Superfights.

This time, however, the result was different, as Ricardo Liborio, an underdog and giving up size, was able to emerge victorious in a grueling match which needed two overtimes to determine a winner by decision.

We spoke with Ricardo Liborio by phone Wednesday.

“What really differentiates Mario is his ability of wrestling,” he said, knowing that this match would be very tough.

“And Mario’s a very big strategist,” he said. “He works a lot on people’s mistakes. And especially when the people do the wrong shot, and he is very good at capitalizing on it. He goes for the front headlock, and the front headlock he spins to the back, and usually people don’t take the pressure, or feeling pressed on the back, they pull guard for grappling.”

Noting that this had been Sperry’s strategy against Fabio Gurgel and Renzo Gracie, he said, “I trained a lot of wrestling. I trained a lot of wrestling. This is what’s key for me. The reality is I trained even more wrestling than I trained ground, because I knew this was going to be something like this.”

He elaborated on his wrestling training, which included working with, among many others, Mo Lawal and Steve Mocco, both of whom had been U.S. national champion wrestlers, and Antoine Jaoude, who had been a Brazilian national champion wrestler.

We also discussed more on this match itself, how this was an incredible “journey to get where I was,” how training for competition after not having competed for many years benefited his health, plans to compete next year in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu masters’ match, how more spectators can be brought to grappling, why he thinks that No Holds Barred is “pure art,” and much, much more.

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