Rafael Lovato Jr. wins first major title at adult since 2013
In September 2014, Rafael Lovato Jr. made his professional MMA debut at Legacy Fighting Championship 35. He won the fight by arm triangle choke and went on to win nine additional fights, eventually capturing the Bellator middleweight title by defeating Gegard Mousasi. During his run in mixed martial arts, the former IBJJF world champion had to change his focus. He kept competing in jiu-jitsu to keep his skills sharp, but his main goal was to be an MMA champion. In early 2020, Lovato spoke about a rare brain condition, cavernoma, an abnormality that forced his retirement from MMA.
Since the announcement, Lovato has gone back to his roots, competing in multiple jiu-jitsu tournaments and super fights. He’s done very well in his return, only dropping matches to the top competitors in his division. Lovato turns 39 in June, and despite being qualified to compete at the Master 2 age division, Lovato decided to test himself against younger foes in the Adult division. He fought three matches to get to the finals, submitting his first two opponents with arm bars and his third with a choke from the crucifix.
In the final, Lovato faced Guilherme Bacha of team Checkmat, a brown belt world champion who was promoted to black in late 2021. Lovato swept Guilherme early, taking a 2-0 lead. Guilherme tied it up with a sweep of his own to even the score. Lovato then earned a second sweep, this time from the x-guard position. Once on top, Lovato utilized the pressure passing skills he’s become known for, winning by a final score of 7-2. With the win, Lovato secured his first major black belt adult title since the he won the Brazilian Nationals in 2013.
Fellipe Andrew and Gabrieli win weight and absolute divisions
At the 2020 European Championships, Fellipe Andrew submitted Keenan Cornelius in the final of the open class with a beautifully timed triangle choke. The performance was going to be a hard one to top, but Fellipe did just that, this time winning his weight class and the absolute. In the super heavyweight division, Fellipe won three matches, meeting Vinicius “Tractor” Ferreira in the final. Fellipe led by just a single advantage until there was less than a minute on the clock, when he was able to sweep and then pass the guard for 5-0 victory.
In the absolute final, Fellipe faced Yatan Bueno of Dream Art. The match started with a guard pull and some sweep attempts from Fellipe. The first significant attack came from Bueno, as he attempted a toe hold that Fellipe countered with a straight ankle lock. A sweep and a back attack scored Fellipe two points and two advantages and gave Fellipe a lead that he rode out to get the victory and his second European absolute title at black belt.
Gabrieli Pessanha came into the Europeans off a double gold performance at the Worlds in December. In the super heavyweight division, Gabrieli had only one fight, beating Claire-France Thevenon via choke from the back.
In the absolute, she had three matches. Gabrieli won the first fight by triangle choke and then met Nathalie Ribeiro in the semi-finals. The match was very close but Gabrieli was able to use her pressure from the top to stifle Nathalie’s attacks from guard and win by a single advantage.
The final of the absolute was against Thalyta Silva, who won the middleweight division. Gabrieli started the finals match on her back, pulling guard and attempting a no arm triangle. Thalyta defended and it took Gabrieli over five minutes to find a score as she swept Thalyta. The next defining moment of the match was a scramble where Gabrieli ended up taking the back. She used the back control to transition to an arm bar, getting the tap from Thalyta and earning double gold at yet another IBJJF major tournament.
Full results can be found below:
Rooster weight – Thalison Soares
Light featherweight – Hiago George
Featherweight – Diego Sodre
Lightweight – Espen Mathiesen
Middleweight – Tainan Dalpra
Middle heavyweight – Bruno Lima
Heavyweight – Adam Wardzinski
Super heavyweight - Fellipe Andrew
Ultra-heavyweight – Rafael Lovato Jr.
Absolute – Fellipe Andrew
Rooster weight – Thais Loureiro
Light featherweight – Mayssa Bastos
Featherweight – Anna Rodrigues
Lightweight – Nathalie Ribeiro
Middleweight – Thalyta Silva
Middle heavyweight – Maggie Grindatti
Super heavyweight – Gabrieli Pesanha
Absolute - Gabrieli Pesanha
All matches are available for replay on FloGrappling.