Rafael Lovato Jr Vacates Bellator Middleweight Title

It’s official, Rafael Lovato Jr is no longer the Bellator Middleweight World Champion. Lovato Jr announced today that he is vacating the title due to him suffering with a rare brain disorder, one he went into great detail about on his recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience. The condition he suffers from is a “Cavernoma” which he discovered shortly before his fight with Gegard Mousasi back in June 2019, the same fight that led to him being crowned Champion.

The shocking news comes just as Rafael Lovato Jr has managed to reach the pinnacle of his MMA career at Bellator. After five long years and a stellar 10-0 record, it seemed as though everything was set for him to build a lengthy title reign before he eventually rode off into the sunset. All of this came after a lengthy BJJ and professional grappling career where Lovato Jr faced off against some of the best grapplers to have ever walked the earth. Throughout this time, he amassed a total of four IBJJF World Championship titles and dozens of medals at that and other competitions at the highest level.

Given that he’s currently 36, we were only ever going to be able to see him defend his title for a few more years at most but there’s something truly sad about a fighter having to end their career due to an unforeseen circumstance and not being able to end it on their own terms. That being said, everyone would rather a fighter step away at the first sign of something potentially disastrous like this, as opposed to continuing to fight against the best medical advice.

MMAJunkie managed to get a statement from the now former Bellator Middleweight Champion:

“My journey with my team and family to become the Bellator middleweight world champion was incredible and something I will cherish forever. I dreamed of having a long reign as champion, but sometimes life has another plan. Bellator has been very supportive during this difficult process — a situation that has never really happened before in our sport. I know the division must move on while I am on the sidelines, and I wish everyone great fights on their way to that belt. I will be working to come back if it is possible — and if not, life will continue to be amazing for me, and I look forward to working with Bellator in another fashion.”

Rafael Lovato Jr

It remains to be seen what Bellator CEO, Scott Coker will do with the Middleweight division, although expect to see a title-fight on the horizon as he attempts to return the division to normality.

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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. Residing in Newport, South Wales, he trains at Newport MMA and competes as much as possible but still prefers no gi.

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