Imada has reached the finals in two consecutive tournament appearances (Photo courtesy of Bellator).
Bellator Veteran Sets Focus on Lightweight Competition
Bellator Fighting Championships has confirmed the return of veteran Toby Imada (26-14), who will compete in its upcoming Season 4 Lightweight Tournament. Entrance into the competition marks the third tournament appearance for Imada under the Bellator banner, who has reached the finals in both of his two earlier showings.
"Toby's been just one win away for the last two lightweight tournaments,” Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney remarked. “He consistently brings a 'go for broke' attitude to the cage and is always looking for the finish. This lightweight tournament is stacked. We have a great mix of new fighters and veterans in the field, which will make for some great fights."
Fighting out of the Throwdown Elite Training Center in Los Angeles, Imada has currently won 12 of his 14 matches, with the two losses being the aforementioned appearances in the first pair of Bellator Lightweight Tournaments. He faced some very formidable competition in both of those defeats, which were to current champion Eddie Alvarez and top contender Pat Curran. Imada says those bouts have not sat well with him, and he plans to use them as motivation.
"I'm a little annoyed. I have a little bit of a mean streak going on right now, a little more of a fire under my butt this time around," Imada stated. "I'm definitely going to be meaner and more aggressive. I'm ready to go out there and give it my all. I'm tired of being the guy that comes up short and doesn't live up to what people expect from him. I'm going to give it all I have this time around, believe me. I'm going to be mean."
Imada began his professional Mixed Martial Arts career in 1998, and the 32-year-old fighter has competed for a variety of promotions before making his mark with Bellator. The last 14 victories for the Judo Black Belt have all come via stoppage, and he has not needed the judges to decide a win for him in over five years.
"Winning this Bellator Season 4 Lightweight Tournament would be the payoff for all of the sweat and sacrifice I have been putting into this sport for years and years," Imada concluded. "It would be a payoff for all of the different things that have annoyed and aggravated me in my career on my way to that point."
The upcoming Bellator Lightweight Competition will take place over a 12-week season from March until May. Bellator will have live broadcasts of the entire tournament, kicking off a three-year deal that the promotion signed with MTV2 on March 5th.