Rafael Lovato Jr. has relinquished the Bellator middleweight title after revealing he’s suffering from a cavernoma, an issue pertaining to the blood vessels in the brain.
Lovato opened up on these health concerns on a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, explaining that the issue has put his career on hold.
Bellator announced that Lovato has parted ways with his title in a Monday press release.
“My journey with my team and family to become the Bellator middleweight world champion was incredible and something I will cherish forever,” Lovato said. “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,” Lovato added.
Bellator president Scott Coker also weighed in on the Lovato situation.
“This has been an incredibly challenging time for Lovato Jr., his team and his family at home,” Coker said. “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 release from Bellator also promised news on the vacant middleweight title “in the coming days.”
Rafael Lovato Jr. won the Bellator middleweight title in 2019, when he defeated Gegard Mousasi by decision.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 2/10/2020.