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Jiu-jitsu champion Rafael Lovato signs with Bellator

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Rafael Lovato, Jr.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Bellator MMA is adding an elite name to its roster from sport, and particularly American, jiu-jitsu. Sources tell MMA Fighting Rafael Lovato, Jr. has signed with the organization to join its middleweight division.

Lovato, 33, currently holds a professional MMA record of 4-0. He made his debut in 2014, competing only once in 2015 and twice in 2016. All of his bouts have taken place in the Legacy Fighting Championship cage, the last of which came in a first-round submission victory (armbar) this past November.

The Carlos Machado-black belt is noteworthy in sport jiu-jitsu for his 2007 World Championship victory, whereby he became the third American to earn that designation. In 2013, he became the first non-Brazilian to win the Brazilian National Championship in both his own weight class as well as the open division.

The American will make his Bellator debut on March 3 when he takes on Wayman Carter at Bellator 174. Their bout will take place on the prelim portion of the card while the event is set to be headlined by a women’s featherweight title bout between Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd. Bellator 174 takes place at the WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Okla.