Effortlessly switching between jiu-jitsu, no-gi, and MMA, Rafael Lovato Jr. is determined to keep his pace as one of the most active athletes in combat sports.
The 34-year-old is now 7-0 in MMA, with three wins in the Bellator middleweight division in less than 12 months. He stays prepared for MMA bouts by going back to his roots and competing in grappling tournaments wherever and whenever possible.
“I’ve been on that routine for a few years now, blending gi and no-gi events with my MMA career,” Lovato says.
“It’s just to keep me sharp, keep me active. I’m always in shape, training my guys for gi and no-gi events. It’s easy for me to jump in.”
Next up for Lovato is a return to the Fight To Win stage: this time, a no-gi match against TLI’s Tim Spriggs on Friday in Denver. The match will happen under 10-minute submission-only rules — in the event of no finish, it goes to a decision. Lovato says he’s happy about that format.
This past year saw Lovato compete in three MMA fights (including the one in which he scored the KO highlighted above), a no-gi grappling superfight against Buchecha, the ADCC World Championships, and IBJJF Masters Worlds. For some athletes this may be a punishing schedule of training and competition, but the Oklahoman says switching styles isn’t as difficult as you might think.
“No-gi stuff is really easy to jump into. I’m focused on my grappling and my wrestling, as well as my striking,” he says.
He still trains in the gi, but not quite as much as when he was regularly competing.
At F2W Pro 64 this Friday, it’s almost guaranteed Spriggs will go after his opponent, and Lovato is expecting nothing less.
“Of the new generation [Sprigg is] one of my favorites,” Lovato says. “He’s got that old-school style. I feel it’s going to be pretty physical out there, and that’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Last modified: February 22, 2018