Rafael Lovato Jr. pulled off a stunning upset this past weekend when he dethroned Gegard Mousasi to become the new Bellator middleweight champion.
While Lovato came into the night with an undefeated record and a world class background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, his nine fight record paled in comparison to Mousasi, who has been a champion in multiple organizations with wins over some of the best fighters in the world at both middleweight and light heavyweight.
Still, Lovato found a way to get the job done after earning a majority decision following five hard-fought rounds against Mousasi at Bellator London on Saturday.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Lovato said about his win after the fight. “It really is my life’s work and everybody that’s had the biggest piece of my life was all here present as far as all my teachers, my coaches, my closest family and brothers, just a couple were missing here and there but you know I dreamed of it happening this way. I was telling myself backstage that this would be my masterpiece. The greatest showing of who I am and it was.
“I had to dig deep. There were some tough moments in there but that’s how it’s supposed to be. That’s how it should be. I wish I could have done better in some things but that was Mousasi. Crazy.”
Lovato gave Mousasi credit for even accepting the fight against him considering he wasn’t the biggest name or the most well established middleweight in the division.
“He is a great champion. I have so much respect for him. He didn’t need to take this fight,” Lovato said about Mousasi. “It’s only my 10th fight and he could have saved himself for bigger fights, bigger paydays, champ-champ or whatever kind of fights.
“He could have really called his shots but as a true champion, he wanted to put his belt on the line who he felt was the most deserving contender.”
As far as what comes next, Lovato isn’t ready to start thinking about that just yet but he is open to the idea of granting Mousasi an immediate rematch if that’s what Bellator wants.
Mousasi was on an eight-fight win streak heading into the weekend and while it was actually the first defense of his Bellator middleweight title, the resume of work he’s put together definitely makes him stand out ahead of the crowd.
Add to that, Lovato knows that the fight with Mousasi was razor close on the judges’ scorecards so he couldn’t complain much if the rematch is what awaits him upon his return to action later this year.
“If that’s what they want to do, I can’t blame them,” Lovato said about the potential rematch. “It was an extremely close fight and he is Mousasi. Right now, it’s hard to think about that. This was a seven-month training camp. I grinded so hard this year.
“I’m going to rest a little bit tomorrow, Monday I’m off to Spain with my wife and it’s time sit by the pool, the beach, chill, relax, enjoy. I’m going to Madrid with my parents, two weeks in Spain, and then we’ll come back home, heal these wounds a little more and get back to work and start thinking about the defense for sure.”