Image source: Rafael Lovato Jr. Instagram (@lovatojrbjj)
Undefeated Brazilian Rafael Lovato Jr. is now the former Bellator middleweight champion after vacating the title due to recent medical issues.
Lovato Jr. announced that he had been diagnosed with cavernoma. According to the NHS UK website:
“A cavernoma is a cluster of abnormal blood vessels, usually found in the brain and spinal cord.
The severity and duration of symptoms can vary depending on the type of cavernoma and where it’s located.
Problems can occur if the cavernoma bleeds or presses on certain areas of the brain.”
The news of the title vacation was made official via a Bellator press release which contained a statement from Lovato Jr. stating that the division must move on whilst he is out on the side-lines.
“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.”
Bellator President Scott Coker also commented on the situation with the utmost praise for the former champion saying that he is a true warrior and his health must come first.
“This has been an incredibly challenging time for Lovato Jr., his team and his family at home. 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.”
Lovato Jr. won the title in a closely contested bout with Gegard Mousasi where he picked up a majority decision win at Bellator 223. The undefeated 10-0 former champion’s career is now indefinitely on hold as he deals with the medical issue.