The second season of the Bellator Fighting Championships commences on April 8 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. with a Fox Sports Net-broadcast card to be headlined by their new signing, Roger Huerta. After securing a broadcast deal with ESPN Deportes for its first season, Bellator had its share of memorable moments, most notably these five:
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Dan Henderson’s knockout of Michael Bisping at UFC 100 was named the 2009 Knockout of the Year. Brutally impressive, but not as electrifying as Reyes’ perfectly executed spinning back fist that put Payan to sleep in the second round of their featherweight semifinal at Bellator 6. The highlight has since been a You Tube staple.
Alvarez became Bellator’s first ever lightweight champion at Bellator 12 when he submitted Toby Imada via rear naked choke in Round 2. The win put Alvarez in the discussion among the world’s best lightweights and a hotly anticipated showdown with Huerta awaits if the latter successfully makes it through the season two tournament.
Bellator 12 also crowned the company’s first middleweight champion when Lombard emerged victory from a bloody battle. Already pitching a shutout, Lombard sent Hess to his back and pulverized him with ground and pound that forced the referee to summon the ringside doctor. Hess’ cut was deemed too severe for him to continue and Lombard became a champion following a war that lasted 16:45.
Toby Imada’s inverted/reverse triangle was at or near the top of everyone’s Submission of the Year lists, and justifiably so.
Huerta boosted the UFC’s profile when he became the first MMA fighter to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated thanks to his riveting battle against Leonard Garcia. Following a unanimous-decision loss to Kenny Florian he turned down a new deal with the UFC and finished his contract by dropping a split-decision to Gray Maynard. His fighting career on hold to pursue acting and modeling, Huerta was speaking with Strikeforce before Bellator flew under the radar and landed the biggest acquisition in its young history. He debuts Thursday against Chad Hinton, the first step in a lightweight tournament he guaranteed he’d win to earn a shot at Alvarez. Signing Huerta was a major coup. Bellator’s reputation will glow brighter the further Huerta advances while also providing exposure to its other fighters to a larger audience.
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