American Champion: Rafael Lovato Jr
Rafael Lovato Jr is one of the best American champions to ever step on the mat and compete in Jiu Jitsu. Starting BJJ at the age of 13, he would soar through the ranks and become known as one of the toughest competitors, becoming quite well known when he was a brown belt. Working with some of the best teachers in the art (Carlos Machado, Marc Laimon, and the Ribeiro Brothers), he would be one of the few non Brazilians to win the Brazilian National Championships in 2007, and then the absolute division in 2013. Along with many other accomplishments, he is the current Fight To Win Pro Nogi champ at light heavyweight. Here are some of great matches in the career of Lavato Jr.
Rafael Lovato Jr vs Michael Liera Jr @ Abu Dhabi World Pro Qualifier
Last year in Houston, Texas at the Abu Dhabi World Pro Qualifier took on Michael Liera Jr, who is one of Andre Galvao’s top black belts. In a five minute match, Lovato showed some of his masterful guard passing game. Liera attempted to work his de la riva guard on Rafael, but Rafael’s passing was too strong with too much pressure. Lavato was able to pass Liera’s de la riva guard and win the match, with relative ease.
Rafael Lovato Jr vs Kayron Gracie @ Metamoris 1
At the inaugural Metamoris event, Jiu Jitsu fans were treated to a great gi match of Lovato facing off against Kayron Gracie in submission only rules. In a match that featured Lovato’s signature passing and his supreme guard work, he took Kayron to the limit. The two battled for a long time. Then at over twelve minutes long, Rafael locked up a very tight kimura from north south and submitted the Gracie with a picture perfect shoulder lock. This would be the beginning of Rafael moving into the submission only format.
Rafael Lovato Jr vs Ricardo Abreu @ Fight 2 Win Pro 3
In the most recent of times, Rafael has found great success in the Fight 2 Win organization, an organization that puts on world class gi and no gi matches with modified submission only rules. At F2W Pro 3, Rafael would take on Ricardo Abreu, a tough world champion at both brown, then black belt. In the match, Ricardo played inside Rafael’s closed guard and half guard, trying to make a successful pass to work top attacks. Eventually, Lovato would lock up a kimura from half guard and use it to sweep Abreu to get on top. When a brief scramble ensued, Lovato locked up a very tight guillotine choke and finished Abreu with a little more than two minutes left on the clock.
While Rafael Lovato Jr has accomplished a lot in the sport, he is still not done. He is very active in the Fight 2 Win organization, holding a no gi title. He recently defeated Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu at a F2W event and will be facing Tanner Rice in a title gi match at F2W 11 in Oklahoma City on September 10th! Catch it on FloGrappling.