Rafael Lovato Jr has just announced his intention to return to the world of competitive BJJ. This comes not long after the newly minted Bellator Middleweight World Champion relinquished his title due to the diagnosis of a brain condition. He went on The Joe Rogan Experience shortly before this announcement to talk openly about his diagnosis and what it meant for him moving forward. At the time he was a little reserved about his combat sports future but it seems as though the competitive itch has returned and he’s scratching it by jumping head first back into BJJ instead of risking head injury.
The news of Lovato Jr entering the IBJJF Pans for the first time since 2014 is most likely the first of several attempts to get back into the sport fully. While he was competing in MMA, his presence on the BJJ circuit was considerably less prevalent than when he was a full-time competitor. As an example, he only competed five times between 2018 and the start of 2020. These were all single-fight events which presented the lowest chance of injury, including three appearances for Fight 2 Win in 2018 against some elite competition like Yuri Simoes. 2019 was an even slower year, where he took a trip to the UK to compete against Jake Shields at Polaris 9, and beat Richie “Boogieman” Martinez at the World Jiu-Jitsu Festival.
Rafael Lovato Jr has started his BJJ comeback in good style though, by losing a close match on points to one of the best grapplers on the planet at Substars, Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu. He’s got another fight lined up this weekend against Vinicius “Trator” Ferreira for Fight 2 Win’s Heavyweight Championship and with the Pans right around the corner, it’s shaping up to be a busy year for Lovato.
For the latest in MMA-related news, click here.