Toby Imada registered one of the most spectacular submission finishes in the history of MMA this past May when he applied an inverted triangle choke against Jorge Masvidal to advance to the finals of the Bellator lightweight tournament.
Imada's submission is the easy choice for submission of 2009 -- and rightfully so. However, let's not forget some of the other great finishing holds unraveled inside the ring and cage this past year. Read about Imada's finish and others as I count down the top five submissions of 2009.
Honorable Mention: Naoyuki Kotani vs. Daisuke Nakamura, ZST.22
A move more fitting in the pro wrestling's squared circle, the leg scissors choke made a cameo in MMA last month when ZST veteran Naoyuki Kotani rendered Daisuke Nakamura unconscious with the maneuver. The move is taught in a basic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, but rarely attempted in MMA because it carries a low success rate. Kotani showed it's not necessarily a move to completely neglect.
5. Shinichi "BJ" Kojima vs. Yuki Shoujou - Shooto Tradition 6
Shinichi Kojima floated beautifully around Yuki Shoujou's back for the rear-naked choke to retain his Shooto bantamweight title in March. What was most impressive about the move was the way he wrapped around Shoujou's back while simultaneously trapping Shoujou's left arm, leaving his opponent only one arm to defend the choke.
4. Seth Dikun vs. Rolando Perez, WEC 41
In a featherweight bout kicking off WEC 41 in June, Seth Dikun submitted Rolando Perez with a textbook flying triangle midway through the first round. Dikun recorded his first WEC win with the risky maneuver.
3. Demian Maia vs. Chael Sonnen, UFC 95
Demian Maia demonstrated why he's best grappler in the UFC, taking down wrestler Chael Sonnen into a full mount where he would attach a triangle choke and roll to his back for the victory. It was Maia's fifth straight Octagon win by submission and directed him towards a fight against title contender Nate Marquardt six months later.
2. Masakazu Imanari vs. Justin Cruz, DEEP Cage Impact
Masakazu Imanari's excellence in submissions allows him to compete at a solid level despite being one dimensional. His opponents know what to expect: Leglocks. Eight of his 18 wins have come by leg/anklelocks and it's safe to say he has the most dangerous leglock game in all of MMA. He turned in a last-minute submission of the year candidate last weekend when he secured a rear-naked choke from a unique position. The cool part? Imanari first attempted an omoplata and then reached for Cruz's chin to crank him into giving up his neck for the rear-naked choke -- all while holding onto the omoplata. It was an omoplata, pro wrestling's Crippler's crossface and a rear-naked choke all wrapped together.
1. Toby Imada vs. Jorge Masvidal, Bellator
Toby Imada's inverted triangle against Jorge Masvidal was an incredible finish that will be a YouTube favorite for years to come. Imada, who was losing the fight to the tournament favorite, brilliantly avoided a slam by adjusting his legs for an inverted triangle choke while Masvidal was still standing. Masvidal walked a couple of steps forward, and before he knew it, crashed to the mat unconscious.