Rafael Lovato Jr. survived a comeback attempt from Gegard Mousasi and became the new Bellator middleweight champion at Bellator 223.
Lovato's ground game and constant takedown attempts wore down Mousasi over the course of five rounds and managed to escape with the title with a majority decision win in the main event. Two of the three judges scored the bout in favor of Lovato 48-47 while a third judge had the fight tied at 47-47. Fightful had Lovato winning 48-47 on its live coverage page which you can read at this link.
Lovato had gone off to a solid lead in the first two rounds as he was able to effectively take away Mousasi's striking and force him to go to the ground. Mousasi did catch fire in the next two rounds, followed by a dominant third round that not only saw him connect with heavy hands on Lovato multiple times, but also caused a cut near Lovato's eye that started to bleed almost immediately.
The fifth round saw Lovato go back to the ground game and managed to take down Mousasi once more. Although Mousasi was able to avoid multiple submission attempts from Lovato throughout the last five minutes, all Mousasi did for most of it was defend and was unable to mount any meaningful offense on his own.
Lovato is not only the Bellator middleweight titleholder, but also improves his MMA record to a perfect 10-0. This was also the first time in Lovato's career in which he had fought in the fourth and fifth round, picking up his second win by decision in his six-fight career at Bellator.
As for Mousasi, his eight-fight win streak going all the way back to his UFC days comes to an end. Mousasi had won the belt last year at Bellator 200 when he scored a TKO win over Rafael Carvalho and then defended the belt once when he defeated Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald this past September at Bellator 206.