Rafael Lovato Jr Opens Up About Rare Brain Disease

BJJ legend and current Bellator Middleweight Champion with an unbeaten 10-0 record, Rafael Lovato Jr made a recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience. here he opened up about his recent diagnosis of an incredibly rare, hereditary brain disease. Lovato Jr revealed that he was diagnosed with Cavernoma last year, only shortly before his incredible title-winning performance against Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 233 in June 2019.

Cavernoma is a cluster of abnormal blood vessels usually found in the brain or spinal cord that can cause headaches, seizures, strokes and even death. Rafael Lovato Jr explains it in his own words and it sounds truly terrifying:

“It’s normally a hereditary disease and your brain forms these extra blood vessels. These blood vessels grow and they can accumulate, then sort of bundle up together in balls. Almost like, like weeds or vines they wrap up together and these blood vessels are very prone to bleeding. Now they don’t bleed so much in an instance where it could cause a hemorrhage. It’s more like a slow, they use the term oozing effect, so it oozes blood out over time. Very little, little by little, as they accumulate those balls are much more susceptible to bleeding.”

He also goes on to explain the incredible difficulty that he had trying to get medically cleared for his Bellator 233 appearance against Mousasi. He had to go to several doctors across Brazil before eventually finding a specialist in the US who was willing to sign him off as fit to fight. He was still training to compete against Mousasi during this time and he even explains his thought process during training and the fear that he might be causing further damage for a fight that might not even take place:

“I’m trying to train this first day and I’m just like “what am i doing?” you know? I’m getting hit in the head and I’m like “man, am i slowly killing myself here? What am I training for? I’m not even approved.”

After all of this, he managed to get medically cleared to fight against Mousasi and won the title in emphatic fashion. Regardless, Lovato Jr has decided to put his MMA career on hold for a short while as he deals with his condition. We wish him the best of luck on his road to dealing with it and hope to see him back in action soon, provided he’s able to.

For the full episode of JRE on which Rafael Lovato Jr appears, click here.

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Alex Lindsey

Alex Lindsey is the managing editor here at Grappling Insider. Originally starting training in MMA in 2008, injuries and university slowed progress until he decided to put on a gi for the first time back in 2015.

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