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Rafael Lovato Excited to Face a Wrestler at Bellator 189

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There’s not much that hasn’t gone right so far during the MMA career of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion Rafael Lovato Jr since turning pro in 2014. In six bouts, Lovato has six finishes, including two this year for the Bellator promotion.

Looking back on his victories over Charles Hackmann in March at Bellator 174, and then Mike Rhodes at Bellator 181 in July, Lovato couldn’t be much happier with how things turned out.

“My first fight (against Hackmann), unfortunately I had a last-minute opponent change, but I was able to showcase my striking in that fight and get a quick TKO,” Lovato told MMAWeekly.com.

“In my second fight, I went against a very tough opponent who was a very good kickboxer (in Rhodes) and was very well-rounded who had fought in the UFC before, so it was a good test. I was able to take his back and get the submission in about two minutes.”

Though he had a lot of pressure on him to succeed due to his BJJ background, Lovato hasn’t felt the need to prove himself in MMA, and instead focuses on continued evolution as a complete fighter.

“I definitely feel I’ve always belonged at this level,” said Lovato. “Each fight is its own independent challenge. I don’t look at it like (I have to prove myself) at all and just take it one fight at a time.

“I’m just a little over three years in with six fights and six finishes. I feel like I’m on a great track. I’m evolving and am getting so much better quickly. I want to showcase those developments in my next fight and put myself in a good position going into 2018.”

Lovato (6-0) will look to remain undefeated when he takes on Chris Honeycutt (10-1) in a 185-pound co-main event at Bellator 189 on Friday in Thackerville, Okla.

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“I’m really excited for this fight because it’s my first time facing a wrestler in MMA,” Lovato said. “I’ve only fought one other person that was a grappler. That was a Jiu-Jitsu guy, now it’s a wrestler who is going to pose another set of problems.

“We’ll see what (Honeycutt’s) strategy is: if he wants to keep it on the feet or take it to the ground. I’m excited for the possible exchanges we’d have on the ground, but I’m ready to fight at all ranges and use all my weapons and not just look to go out there and finish it with my Jiu-Jitsu.”

Should Lovato continue his winning ways against Honeycutt, he would like to see himself compete for his first Bellator championship sometime by the end of next year.

“This one would definitely put me in the Top Five,” said Lovato. “I wouldn’t mind doing one more in the first half of the year, but hopefully in the second half of 2018 I’ll be fighting for the title. That’s my goal.”

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