by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
The non-televised preliminary fights at WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber presented a tremendous opening to the promotion’s first foray onto pay-per-view. Of the four bouts, there were easily candidates for each of the post-fight awards that will see fighters receiving $65,000 bonus checks.
The final fight of the prelims featured Brad Pickett and Demetrious Johnson in a back and forth battle that was much closer, and definitely more exciting than the judges’ scorecards would seem to indicate.
Johnson was firing with a wide array of punches, kicks, and knees all fight long, but as soon as he seemed to get things going Pickett would shoot in and ground him. Pickett fought a smart fight coming on especially strong in the waning moments of each round, putting exclamation points on his numerous takedowns.
In the end, Pickett walked out of the cage with a unanimous decision, and what he thought was a likely broken collarbone.
Hometown favorite Chad Mendes wasted no time on Anthony “Cheesesteak” Morrison. After a brief feeling out process, he shot in and took Morrison down, quickly moved to north-south position and locked up a guillotine choke. Morrison tried to hold on, but the choke was deep and he had no choice but to tapout.
Takeya Mizugaki tried to stay low to avoid Rani Yahya’s takedowns and fire off some crisp punches in the second bout of the event. Yahya still managed several takedowns throughout the bout, but Mizugaki was quick to return to his feet on nearly every occasion, firing off punches that stung Yahya all fight long.
It took him three rounds, but Mizugaki outworked Yahya, scoring more damage than the Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert and earning a unanimous decision victory.
Toner kicked off the show at the arena with an impressive debut. He started with an early strategy of chopping away at Brandon Visher’s lead leg, but saw an opening and went for broke.
Toner clipped Visher with a head kick then dropped him with a short left punch. He followed Visher down, unleashing several point of elbow strikes to the temple. Referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop the bout midway through the opening round.