Lovato Jr Vacates Strap Amid Health Concerns
Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Lovato Jr has relinquished his title.
Lovato recently revealed that he was dealing with a complicated brain condition that would keep him sidelined indefinitely. At the time, he was unsure if he would be able to return to action.
And after consulting with doctors, it looks like that is the case for now as he vacated his strap as per a recent Bellator press release.
“My journey with my team and family to become the Bellator middleweight world champion was incredible and something I will cherish forever,” Lovato Jr was quoted as saying in the 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.”
Bellator president Scott Coker also had words for Lovato as he stated that health was the main priority.
“This has been an incredibly challenging time for Lovato Jr, his team and his family at home,” Coker said. “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 holds an undefeated 10-0 record since making his professional debut in 2014. He notably defeated Gegard Mousasi via majority decision at Bellator 223 last summer to become the promotion’s middleweight king.
Mousasi will likely be next in line to challenge for the vacant strap.