Rafael Lovato Jr. has relinqueshed his Bellator middleweight championship after being sidelined indefintely due to a brain condition.
Lovato (10-0) revealed in January that he had been diagnosed with cavernoma, a condition where abnormal blood vessels cluster, and he may never be cleared to fight again.
With his future uncertain, Bellator have today announced that he will vacate his 185 lbs championship via an official 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 stated. “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.”
Bellator president Scott Coker would also provide a statement on the decision:
“This has been an incredibly challenging time for Lovato, his team and his family at home. 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.”