Rafael Lovato Jr. sent shockwaves through the MMA world by securing a majority decision win over the heavily-favored Gegard Mousasi in their middleweight world title fight on Saturday at Bellator 223 in London, England.
Lovato came into the fight as the heavy underdog despite his undefeated record, and the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace put the pressure on Mousasi taking him down and working his ground game for the opening two rounds.
The fight changed in the third and fourth rounds when Mousasi came to life and used his experience in five-round title fights to take over. It looked as if “The Dreamcatcher” would run away with the result on the judges’ scorecards, but Lovato dug deep, took Mousasi down early in the fifth round and worked his way to the win.
The 35-year-old said he was still pinching himself after the performance and said backstage he dreamed how it would go The 35-year-old said he was still pinching himself after the performance and said backstage he dreamed how it would go (Transcript via MMA Junkie):
“It’s hard to put into words,” Lovato Jr. told reporters backstage at The SSE Arena. “It really is my life’s work, and everybody that’s had the biggest piece of my life were here – just a couple were missing.
“I dreamed of it this way. I was telling myself backstage that this would be my masterpiece.”
The newly-crowned champion said due to the close nature of the fight and the fact Mousasi was the reigning champion, Bellator may want to host a rematch between the pair:
“If that’s what they want to do, I can’t blame them,” Lovato Jr. said. “It was an extremely close fight, and it is Mousasi.
“I always envisioned having a fight like that, a complete war, coming down to the wire, bringing out the best in me. It was the best way it could possibly go against a legend like that. I was a big underdog. A few people believed in me… and we did it.”