After Winning The Dallas Open In Gi & No-Gi, Rafael Lovato Jr. Will Prove His Mettle At F2W 166

Rafael Lovato Jr. has kicked off 2021 in impressive fashion, making it clear that he’s not here to mess around.

Last weekend, Lovato started the competitive year with a bang, bringing home gold in both gi and no-gi at the Dallas International Open. In both divisions, Lovato met Pans and American Nationals bronze medalist Yuri Santos, taking the win with an armbar in both matches. It was, no doubt, an exhausting weekend for the 2007 IBJJF World Champion, but tomorrow, he’ll be back in action once more, this time at F2W 166.

Lovato will be facing off against Gabriel Almeida in the main event of the evening in a match that will test the time-honed skills of a BJJ legend and the innovation and athleticism of a decorated young black belt.

Both competitors are familiar faces on the F2W stage. In fact, Almeida last competed at F2W 160 against rising star Pedro Marinho. Prior to that, he had a very impressive showing at American Nationals, where he earned gold in no-gi for both his weight class and the absolute division and brought home silver in the gi.

Almeida is often the underdog in his matches, but that hasn’t stopped him from testing himself at F2W by going up against some of the sport’s most elite athletes. Though Vagner Rocha stopped him with a heel hook at F2W 157, Almeida wowed his audience at F2W 152 by defeating the Romulo Barral via decision.

This, however, will be the first time that Almeida and Lovato have faced each other, and if there’s one thing we know about Lovato, it’s that he just. won’t. quit.

Lovato has been competing for F2W since their third event, when he defeated Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu with an arm-in guillotine. Since then, he’s been virtually nonstop, taking some time to focus on ADCC and his career as a Bellator MMA fighter in 2017 before coming back to F2W in 2018 with a flourish, defeating Tim Spriggs and Josh Hinger to put an exclamation point on his return.

Lovato reached the pinnacle of his undefeated MMA career in 2019, when he defeated Gegard Mousasi to claim the Bellator Middleweight World Champion title. Sadly, though, he would retain the title for less than a year before deciding to vacate the position and take a big step back from fighting after being diagnosed with a rare brain disease.

Through it all, Lovato has been a constant and consistent BJJ competitor. He managed to stay surprisingly active throughout the chaos of 2020, competing in four F2W matches, among other events, and voicing his intent to return to MMA one day when he’s given medical clearance to do so. Until then, though, it looks like at least on the mats, jiu-jitsu’s ultimate tough guy isn’t going anywhere.

Fight 2 Win 166 will take place on Saturday, March 13 in Austin, Texas and can be streamed live on FloGrappling.


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