In the days leading up to Bellator’s historic Bellator 200 event, which takes place May 26 in London, we’re counting down 10 of the biggest moments in the promotion’s history. Today, we take a look at the first time the promotion went viral thanks to Toby Imada’s finish of Jorge Masvidal.
Bellator’s first, “Did you see that?” moment occurred when Jorge Masvidal and Toby Imada met in the semifinal round of the promotion’s inaugural lightweight tournament. The matchup was the Bellator 5 main event.
Masvidal nearly was a 4-1 favorite to move on to face Eddie Alvarez for the promotion’s inaugural 155-pound title. Alvarez secured his spot in the final earlier in the season when he submitted Eric Reynolds via rear-naked choke.
By the time the third stanza of the Masvidal vs. Imada bout began, all signs pointed to Masvidal cruising to victory. His superior striking through the first two rounds had left Imada’s face a bloody and lumpy mess. But halfway through the final round, the underdog found the opening he needed.
A scramble left Masvidal searching for a single-leg takedown. With his head between Imada’s legs and his opponent draped over his back, Masvidal posted his left arm on the mat and stood. Imada then locked on an inverted triangle. Masvidal fought the hold for as long as he could, but he eventually crumpled to the mat unconscious.
The technical submission sent Imada on to the final, where he lost to Alvarez via a second-round rear-naked choke.
Imada fell short of winning the Bellator title, but his submission didn’t go unnoticed. The rare technique earned him “Submission of the Year” at the 2009 World MMA Awards.
“I’m embracing [the recognition],”Imada told MMAjunkie at the time. “Of course I’m really proud of it. But at the same time, I do know that I can’t have that be my one claim to fame. I don’t want to be that guy that the one thing he’s ever done in his whole life that was any great was that. I want to do more. I want to keep going.
“I want to show that it wasn’t just that one moment in time.”
Imada did make it to the Bellator Season 2 lightweight tournament final, but he lost to Pat Curran by split decision.
Imada finished his MMA career on an 0-2-1 run; his last fight took place in 2013. Masvidal still is in the game. The 33-year-old currently is the No. 12 ranked welterweight in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA rankings.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
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