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BJJ star and former Bellator champ Rafael Lovato wins MMA return after three-year layoff

After three years in the sidelines because of a rare brain disease, Rafael Lovato is back inside the MMA cage.

Rafael Lovato Jr. at Bellator 198 in 2018. Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Rafael Lovato Jr. was on a hot streak in his MMA career in 2019 when he was forced to a halt due to a rare brain disease. It forced him to relinquish the Bellator middleweight title in the process as he looked at the possibility of being indefinitely sidelined from professional fighting.

Now 39, Lovato has returned to action inside the MMA cage recently under Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye in Tokyo against fellow undefeated fighter Taiga Kawasaki. As you’ll see in the video below, he’s picked from where he left off three years ago and won the bout via submission inside one round.

Lovato began to make his way up the MMA professional ranks in 2014. He signed with Bellator three years later and became its middleweight champion with a win over decorated veteran Gegard Mousasi right before his hiatus. He holds an undefeated professional record of 11-0.