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Bellator In The 2010s: Looking Back At The Middleweight Division

The title currently lays vacant after Rafael Lovato Jr. was forced to vacate it due to an illness. However, some of the best have held it.

Six fighters have laid claim to the Bellator middleweight title, which currently remains vacant.

Rafael Lovato Jr. was in the midst of just starting his reign atop the division when he vacated the belt. Lovato announced he was dealing with a cerebral cavernoma, taking him away from competition.

The first division champion was crowned just outside of the decade, as Hector Lombard won the belt in 2009.

Rafael Lovato Jr.

It was looking like a strong and tough run atop the division for Rafael Lovato Jr. after he won the title in 2019.

However, a cerebral cavernoma forced Lovato to vacate the belt on June 22, 2019 233 days after defeating Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 223 in London.

Gegard Mousasi

A former Strikeforce champion, Gegard Mousasi wasted no time winning Bellator MMA gold when he arrived.

Mousasi, a top UFC contender during his time in that promotion, topped Rafael Carvalho for the title on May 25, 2018 at Bellator 200 in London.

During his 394-day reign, Mousasi defeated Rory MacDonald at Bellator 206 on September 29, 2018 in a much-hyped contest.

Rafael Carvalho

It was an interesting run for Rafael Carvalho as Bellator middleweight champion.

He won the belt on October 23, 2015 in a bout at Bellator 144 with Brandon Halsey. Despite Halsey having held the title that year, he was stripped of it before this contest.

During his 945-day run with the strap, Carvalho had a split decision win over Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 155 in 2016 that led to a rematch in early 2017. He won that, and also defended vs. Alessio Sakara.

Brandon Halsey

Kind of Bellator’s version of Chris Weidman, Brandon Halsey came out of nowhere to surprise Alexander Shlemenko and win the title.

He would be champion for 230 days, as officials stripped him of the belt in 2015 after failing to make weight.

Alexander Shlemenko

For almost 600 days and through three title defenses, Alexander Shlemenko was the man at middleweight in Bellator.

Shlemenko won the title from Maiquel Falcao after it was declared vacant in 2013 at Bellator 88.

His title defenses included wins over Brett Cooper and Doug Marshall that year, along with a victory vs. Brennan Ward in 2014.

Hector Lombard

A former Olympian, it was no real surprise when Hector Lombard won the Bellator middleweight title in 2009 at Bellator 12.

Lombard finished off Jared Hess in the fourth round after defeating Damien Stelly and Virgil Lozano in the tournament.

For 1,040 days, Lombard was champion, earning a win over Alexander Shlemenko before leaving for the UFC in 2012.

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