Rafael Lovato Jr has decided to vacate Bellator middleweight title. The 10-fight undefeated 36-year-old American mixed martial artist has been forced to get on the sidelines due to medical complications.
“My journey with my team and family to become the Bellator middleweight world champion was incredible and something I will cherish forever,” said Rafael Lovato Jr. “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 Jr. took middleweight title against former champion Gegard Mousasi last June at the Bellator event in London. The promotion is expected to announce plans for the (now) vacant belt shortly.
“This has been an incredibly challenging time for Lovato Jr., his team and his family at home,” said Bellator President Scott 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.”