Rafael Lovato Jr. Prefers Machida Next, Not Mousasi

Rafael Lovato Jr.
Image Credit: Bellator MMA

Rafael Lovato Jr. became the new Bellator middleweight champion at Bellator London when he defeated Gegard Mousassi via majority decision. Due to the competitiveness of the fight, though, a rematch between the two is entirely possible, and Lovato has expressed an openness to it, but there is another man he would like to fight next instead (Transcript via Apmma.net):

“It would be awesome to fight Machida, another legend. Get that experience,” Lovato Jr. told ESPN. “I just spent seven months thinking about Mousasi pretty much every day, because of the postponement. So it would be nice to put my mind somewhere else and think about someone else for a little bit, and get a chance to face another legend.”

Lyoto Machida is currently riding a four-fight win streak and has been 2-0 since joining Bellator. Machida made a successful debut at Bellator 213 against Rafael Carvalho in a split-decision victory and, in his most recent bout, Machida defeated and retired Chael Sonnen at Bellator 222 via TKO. Machida has recently expressed interest in fighting Ryan Bader next, but if Lovato Jr. has his way, Machida will be his first title defense and Mousasi can either wait for a rematch or fight again in the meantime:

“I’m not sure what Machida’s plans are, if he plans to stay at 205 or go after the middleweight title. But it would be an honor to make him my first defense,” Lovato Jr. said. “The Dragon versus The American Samurai. And let Mousasi pick another win or wait, whatever he wants to do. And we can have a rematch after that.”

Which opponent makes more sense for Rafael Lovato Jr.’s first middleweight title defense? Gegard Mousasi or Lyoto Machida?