Rafael Lovato Jr.

USA

Claims middleweight crown in London
MiddleweightBellator
June 24, 2019
Lovato defeated Gegard Mousasi via majority decision (47-47, 48-47, 48-47) to become the Bellator Middleweight Champion at Bellator 223 on Saturday.
ANALYSIS
Lovato came into this fight with a clear game plan that was focused on his wrestling, and that was most evident out of the gates, when he took down Mousasi and maintained top position in the first round. The second round was similar, but less successful, and having to defend constant takedown attempts clearly started to wear on Mousasi in the third. That was a pivotal frame for Mousasi, however, as he was able to reverse position and deploy heavy ground-and-pound, which was likely enough to take the round. Mousasi seemed to have the edge in the fourth round as well, but Lovato caught his wind in the final frame and spent much of the round controlling the back of Mousasi. While Lovato is getting into the fight game a little late at age-35, the BJJ practitioner now sports a perfect 10-0 record, with six of those victories coming under the Bellator banner. Considering Mousasi was a prized acquisition of Bellator after his departure from the UFC, it seems like a rematch will be in order. The close nature of this fight seems to only help that cause.
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Shot at title rescheduled
MiddleweightBellator
March 29, 2019
Lovato will face Gegard Mousasi at Bellator London on June 22, Chamatkar Sandhu of ESPN.com reports.
ANALYSIS
This is the rescheduling of the Bellator 214 middleweight title fight that ultimately was canceled due to Mousasi suffering a back injury.
Removed from Bellator 214
MiddleweightBellator
January 10, 2019
Lovato has been removed from Bellator 214, Alexander K. Lee of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
The fight on January 26 has been removed after officials were not able to find a replacement for Gegard Mousasi, who reported as a scratch in December due to a back injury. The fight between Aaron Pico and Henry Corrales has now been promoted to the Bellator 214 co-headlining spot.
Out of opponent at Bellator 214
MiddleweightBellator
December 20, 2018
Lovato no longer has an opponent at Bellator 214 on Jan. 26 after Gegard Mousasi withdrew from the bout due to a back injury, Ariel Helwani of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
It's unclear if Lovato will remain on the card at this point. Lovato, who is 9-0 as a professional, is coming off a third-round win (via submission) over John Salter at Bellator 205 in September.
Schools John Salter in the third round and finishes via submission at Bellator 205
MiddleweightBellator
September 21, 2018
Lovato defeated John Salter via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:27 of Round 3 at Bellator 205 on Friday in Boise, Idaho.
ANALYSIS
Lovato has spent time picking up aspects of MMA outside of submission grappling. However, he has never strayed too far from his base. He held his own in the striking in the first two rounds. He pulled away and finished on the ground in the third. He scored a takedown in half guard. From there, he passed with ease and took the mount. He threw enough strikes to force Salter to give up his back. From there, Lovato stayed patient until he locked in the rear-naked choke. He was over the chin, but it did not matter. There are few fighters in MMA as strong in terms of grappling as Lavoto. It will be interesting to see who the promotion matches him with next. He can clearly still improve overall, but he is not getting any younger.
Schools Gerald Harris on the ground at Bellator 198
MiddleweightBellator
April 28, 2018
Lovato defeated Gerald Harris via submission (armbar) at 1:11 of Round 1 at Bellator 198 on Saturday in Chicago.
ANALYSIS
Lovato continues to compete in MMA and competitive grappling at the same time. This does not seem to be creating any issues for him. He ended up on the bottom early in this fight. He immediately transitioned into an armbar and finished the fight via armbar. Lovato's original opponent John Salter dropped out of this fight on Tuesday. Harris is a veteran who has fought for a variety of promotions including the UFC. Lovato might still focus on his grappling training, but he is quickly climbing up the middleweight ladder in Bellator.