Though he’s just had one fight so far in 2018, middleweight Rafael Lovato Jr. is pleased with how the bout turned out and what he was able to do in it.
Facing veteran Gerald Harris at Bellator 198 in April, Lovato was able to showcase his renowned Jiu-Jitsu skills and pick up a submission win just over one minute into the fight.
“Gerald was a late replacement and pretty much saved the day for me,” Lovato told MMAWeekly.com. “I’ve got nothing but respect for Gerald stepping in.
“I just went out there ready to go and it worked out to be super clean. It was pretty quick. I got the finish. The transition to the arm bar was something everybody liked, and I was happy to show something like that. I like to showcase the beauty of Jiu-Jitsu whenever I can.”
In defeating a 30 fight veteran like Harris, Lovato feels like he’s heading down the path exactly how he has wanted to since committing to fight MMA full time four years ago.
“When I first started MMA it was a little bit like a trial process for me to see how I enjoyed this,” said Lovato. “Once I decided this is what I wanted to put my time and energy and body into it, I went all in.
“I set the goal to be world champion, and that means stepping up the level of competition and working my way up as cleanly and quickly as possible. I feel like I’m putting things together at a high level myself now. Just like I’m stepping up the level of competition in every fight, I myself am a much better fighter every time.”
On Friday in Boise, Idaho, Lovato (8-0) will face John Salter (15-3) in the bout that was originally slated to take place in April, as the 185-pound co-main event of Bellator 205.
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“I’m happy to do this fight with Salter,” Lovato said. “We’ve been training for each other all year. It’s good to finally get out there and test myself against him, and then move on to the next chapter, which I believe will be the title.
“Salter brings some interesting things to the table. He’s also a high-level Jiu-Jitsu as well. I feel he’s going to bring out the best in me. I think I’m going to bring out the best in him. I’m ready for war and ready to show my work.”
Should Lovato defeat Salter, there is only one thing he feels that is left for him to accomplish: challenging for the Bellator middleweight championship.
“Salter has already shown he’s worthy of a title shot, so getting a solid victory over him it only makes sense that (fighting for the title) is the next thing to do,” said Lovato. “That’s what I’m hoping for.
“Absolute worst case and I have to fight somebody else, I’ll do what I have to do, but once I get my hand raised I’m definitely calling for that title shot.”