Rafeal Lovato Jr skipped the IBJJF Pan Ams in favor of going to the far less known Brazilian Championships. Known as the Brasileiro, it is the least covered of the major Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions. It does attract some of the big names but it also draws largely unknown talent from Brazil that is unable to afford the travel costs of going to the U.S. for the Pan Ams or World Championships. As a result it is normally a very deep tournament.
Lovato became the first non-Brazilian to win the open-weight at the Brasileiro, and the first non-Brazilian to win an open-weight title at a major IBJJF competition. Making history is not new to Lovato as he is widely considered the best American in competitive Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Born in Ohio, Lovato moved to Oklahoma City and learned martial arts from his father, who was Jeet Kune Do instructor. When the father and son heard about Jiu Jitsu they began to teach themselves to grapple through VHS tape and traveling to seminars. Lovato made a name for himself in the Juvenile divisions of BJJ competitions. Lovato caught the eye of Saulo and Xande Ribeiro, two of the best competitors and coaches in BJJ. Lovato began to train under the Ribeiro brothers, traveling to California for stints but remaining mainly at his own school in Oklahoma City.
In 2007, Lovato became the first competitor ever to win his weightclass at the black belt level at the Brasileiro, the European Championships, the Pan American Championships and the World Championships in the same year. Since then Lovato has also won a No Gi World Championships and also won his match at Metamoris I against Kayron Gracie.
Lovato is currently set to take on Andre Galvao in a Submission only match at Metamoris II this May. Bloody Elbow will be providing full coverage of that event.