LOS ANGELES – Following the medical complications that were publicly disclosed by Rafael Lovato Jr. (10-0) late last month, the Bellator middleweight champion has decided to relinquish his 185-pound world title. The unbeaten Lovato Jr. defeated former champ Gegard Mousasi to win the title at Bellator 223 in London on June 22, 2019.
“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. “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.”
“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.”
Bellator will announce plans for the vacant middleweight title in the coming days.