In 2009, Toby Imada put Bellator Fighting Championships on the map by defeating Jorge Masvidal with an incredible inverted triangle choke submission, a highlight that became a viral video and was widely regarded as the best submission of the year in mixed martial arts.
Now lightning has struck twice for Bellator.
On Saturday night's Bellator card, Richard Hale used the same move -- the inverted triangle -- to choke Nik Fekete into unconsciousness. It was a sensational highlight, and exactly the kind of thing Bellator needs to attract attention on its new television home, MTV2.
"That's what I train," Hale said of the submission. "I show you guys how it's supposed to be done. ... He walked himself right into it and I said, 'Hey, why not?'"
Although Bellator has had a tough time gaining traction -- especially on nights like this one, when the UFC also has a fight card -- Hale's submission was tremendous, and it has the potential to get played on ESPN, become a hit on YouTube and have MMA fans talking.
Hale's victory moved him to the semifinals of the Bellator Season 4 light heavyweight tournament, and Saturday night's card featured three other light heavyweight tournament bouts:
-- Christian M'Pumbu offered up a spectacular comeback against Chris Davis, winning by third-round TKO in a fight he was losing through the first two rounds. Davis showed off his superior wrestling in the early going and appeared to be in control and on his way to a decision victory, but in the third round M'Pumbu exploded with his striking, got Davis on the ground and finished him with a devastating punch from the top that made Davis go limp for a moment and made the referee step in to stop the fight.
-- D.J. Linderman brutalized Raphael Davis, dominating him in the first and second rounds and absolutely destroying him in the third before the referee finally, mercifully, stepped in to save Davis and hand Linderman the third-round TKO win. By the end of the fight Linderman was teeing off on Davis on the ground, and Davis had no answer. It was a dominant win for Linderman.
-- Tim Carpenter won a razor close split decision over Daniel Gracie, with two judges giving two rounds to Carpenter and one judge giving two rounds to Gracie. In the early going Carpenter looked like he was going to make short work of Gracie, dropping him on the face and jumping on top of him quickly. But Gracie held on and improved as the fight went on, giving Carpenter trouble and opening a big cut over his right eye. Ultimately, however, Carpenter won, improving to 7-0 in his MMA career and advancing to the light heavyweight semifinals.
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