Bellator champion, Rafael Lovato Jr. has made the difficult decision to relinquish his title amid health concerns.
Lovato Jr. was recently on the Joe Rogan Experience where he revealed he was suffering from a rare brain condition and his career was on pause. He wasn’t certain on what he would do. But, he decided to give up the title, Bellator announced in a press release.
“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,” Lovato Jr. began. “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,” Lovato added.
Bellator president Scott Coker also gave his thoughts on the situation.
“This has been an incredibly challenging time for Lovato Jr., his team and his family at home,” said 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.”
Lovato Jr. won the title back in June when he beat Gegard Mousasi by decision.
Bellator announced the promotion will announce plans for the vacant title in the coming days. Mousasi and Douglas Lima have been asking to fight one another for the title.