Bellator’s Lovato Jr. Relinquishes Middleweight Title
Due to an ongoing medical condition, Rafael Lovato Jr. has officially relinquished the Bellator Middleweight Championship.
“My journey with my team and family to become the Bellator middleweight world champion was incredible and something I will cherish forever,” said Lovato Jr. in a press release. “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.”
Lovato (10-0) won the Middleweight Championship off of Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 223 back in June. it was previously reported that the 36-year-old would be putting his MMA career on hold after the announcement he was suffering from cavernoma. According to John Hopkins Medicine, it is a hereditary disease that results in an abnormal amount of capillaries and tiny blood vessels periodically bleeding. Lesions in the brain and spinal cord are a direct result of the bleeding.
Bellator President Scott Coker is expected to be making an announcement regarding the title situation in the next few days.
“This has been an incredibly challenging time for Lovato Jr., his team and his family at home,” said Coker. “He is a true warrior of the sport and I cannot say enough about him for making such a difficult decision. His health is the priority for us and we will continue to work with him on addressing the next steps in his career.”
It is unknown if another Grand Prix will be announced, considering the promotion is currently in the middle of producing a featherweight tournament. New Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima expressed interest in facing Lovato Jr. for his title prior to this announcement. The aforementioned Mousasi is also interested in fighting for the title again.