The MMA world was stunned to learn that Bellator Middleweight champion Rafael Lovato Jr. is suffering from a rare condition called cavernoma, one that causes a variety of brain disorders including irregular blood flow and cerebral hemorrhaging. At the time of his revelation, via the Joe Rogan Experience, the man who dethroned Gegard Mousasi last June had not made a decision about the future of his career.
Today, Bellator MMA revealed that Lovato has opted to relinquish his Middleweight title for medical reasons and released a statement detailing his thought process regarding this obviously difficult decision.
“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.”
“This has been an incredibly challenging time for Lovato Jr., his team and his family at home,” Bellator MMA President Scott Coker added. “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.”
The promotion plans to announce the next steps for the now-vacant middleweight title in the days to come.
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