Xande Ribeiro and Rafael Lovato Jr have both already cemented their status as legends of BJJ competition, with both men now deciding to hang up their belts and retire from the IBJJF World Championships. The two men have slightly different reasons behind their respective decisions, but Ribeiro is already 41 years old while Lovato Jr is almost 39 himself. Both of them have seen plenty of success competing in BJJ over the years, with Lovato Jr also embarking on a successful MMA career that saw him retire undefeated as the Bellator Middleweight World Champion.
Lovato Jr left his belt on the mats at the latest edition of the IBJJF World Championships to signal his retirement and gave the following statement on it:
“This is just my last Worlds. I’m going to be doing ‘Masters 8’ one year.. I gave everything I had to jiu-jitsu and in return it gave me everything back. It’s just a lot of emotions, but I left it all on the mats. Babies are due august 5th. I’m having twins… Now it’s time to be a dad. We’ll see how things go. Maybe one day I’ll get the itch, try one more time. But probably not. I still have ADCC this year so I’m going to keep the rhythm.”
As Lovato Jr mentioned, he did receive an invite to compete at the 2022 ADCC World Championships and will be giving his all at the world’s most prestigious no gi grappling competition before he makes any decision on his competitive future as a whole. Rafael Lovato Jr isn’t alone actually, as Xande Ribeiro was actually one of the first athletes to receive an invite to compete at ADCC 2022 and he too will be fighting at the event.
Ribeiro announced his retirement in the same fashion, leaving his belt on the mats after his final match was done. He also gave a statement in order to explain the decision:
“31 years competing, 25 years competing [Worlds]. It’s time to walk away… Now I just gotta be ready and coach the guys. That’s what I have to think about.”