clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

BJJ star Rafael Lovato Jr. in MMA ‘for the challenge and to do something different’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Rafael Lovato Jr. has an opponent for his first MMA bout.

The second non-Brazilian to ever win a jiu-jitsu world championship in the black belt in 2007, Lovato is set to battle Canaan Grigsby in a middleweight bout at the Legacy FC 35 card, scheduled for Sept. 6 at the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa. Legacy FC owner Mick Maynard told to Monday.

Lovato (0-0), a black belt under Carlos "Soneca" Machado, won multiple major titles in jiu-jitsu, including the World and World NoGi Championships, two Pan-American titles and one European gold medal.

More experienced than Lovato in MMA, Grigsby (3-1) enters the bout coming off a pair of TKO victories. His only loss came in a 7-second knockout to Dequan Townsend in February 2013. Grigsby holds three sub-minute TKO wins in amateur bouts.

"I am very excited to make my MMA debut for Legacy," Lovato told "In the beginning, I am just in it for the challenge and to do something different. I always believed I would fight MMA and then I dedicated my life to Jiu-Jitsu and my academy and team. Now, I am at a point in my career where I feel that I have achieved nearly everything I wanted to do in Jiu-Jitsu and I have made my mark.

"My academy and my team is at a great level where I can focus on this new challenge and I have an excellent muay thai coach at my school full time now, so everything just feels right. This is a great time for me to fight."

Lovato, who competed at the first two editions of Metamoris, submitting Kayron Gracie and losing to Andre Galvao via decision, plant to keep competing in grappling tournaments.

"I still want to fight at the Worlds and ADCC next year, but if I enjoy MMA, I might make the transition into focusing on that 100 percent after the tournaments next year," he said. "Right now it is just about the challenge and fun."

Legacy FC 35 is headlined by a light heavyweight championship fight between reigning champion Myron Dennis and undefeated Brazilian Top Team star Leonardo Leite.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting