After publicly disclosing some neurological issues that he’s dealing with, Rafael Lovato Jr. has relinquished the Bellator middleweight championship.

Lovato won the Bellator 185-pound strap from Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 223 on June 22 of last year. While many expected a rematch to come next, Lovato’s medical condition has forced him to put his fighting career on hold for the time being.

“My journey with my team and family to become the Bellator middleweight world champion was incredible and something I will cherish forever,” said Lovato Jr. via an official Bellator press release. “I dreamed of having a long reign as champion, but sometimes life has another plan. Bellator has been very supportive during this difficult process, a situation that has never really happened before in our sport.

“I know the division must move on while I am on the sidelines and I wish everyone great fights on their way to that belt. I will be working to come back if it is possible – and if not, life will continue to be amazing for me and I look forward to working with Bellator in another fashion.”

Bellator MMA president Scott Coker also commented, suggesting that Lovato’s health holds priority over fighting at the moment, and they will continue to work with him in addressing the next steps of his career.

“This has been an incredibly challenging time for Lovato Jr., his team and his family at home,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “He is a true warrior of the sport and I cannot say enough about him for making such a difficult decision. His health is the priority for us and we will continue to work with him on addressing the next steps in his career.”

The promotion will make an announcement regarding the vacant middleweight title in the coming days.

What do you think about Lovato relinquishing the middleweight title?

Has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) for the past several years. Also covers professional wrestling for WrestleZone and EWrestlingNews, and the Houston Texans for USA Today's Texans Wire.