Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Lovato Jr. is fighting a rare brain condition that could bring on his premature retirement from the sport. The Brazilian hasn’t fought since picking up the title against Gegard Mousasi in June 2019. Speaking to Joe Rogan he explained why he has been out of the cage for so long and why he is unlikely to fight again anytime soon, he said.
“I could sense something was going on. The radiologist, with really no candor or an easy or soft way of saying it, was like, ‘Dude, have you seen your brain before? There’s some stuff in here you need to see.’ He pulls me into the room and shows me on the screen, pointing out what looked like little balls. It looked like something was wrong – not a normal scan. But I don’t know – like shades of discoloration. You could see that it wasn’t normal. He didn’t even know what it was at the time.
“I go back and he tells me that he did some research and he believes I have a disease called cavernoma. He hits me with that. I had no idea what cavernoma was. He said, ‘Look, I’m not signing this paper. You need to go see a specialist and get looked at. But as far as I know, you should not fight. You should not be fighting.’”
Whilst doctors in Europe have ruled Lovato Jr out of fighting, others in Brazil see no problem with it. The 36-year-old relayed his conversation with medical staff in his homeland, he said.
“There is no studies that say getting hit in your head is going to make your cavernoma worse or cause you to bleed and something is going to happen, You could bleed, you could be oozing blood at any point in time, little by little. It could become an issue at some point in time. But there is no treatment. We’re not going to do surgery. There’s nothing that’s going to happen until you have symptoms, until you show signs. Because I can’t find any studies that say getting hit in the head is going to make it worse, and because you a normal, healthy, functioning person at this point, I think it’s fine for you to fight. You should continuing doing what you do until it becomes a problem. And if it does become a problem, we’ll go in there and take it out.”