Fans of MMA in the state of Colorado are certainly familiar with the name Tyler “Thunder” Toner. Long before he had a stint with the WEC and UFC, Toner was ruling the featherweight division under the Ring of Fire banner.

Now, as Toner prepares to face off with fellow UFC veteran Cameron Dollar on June 2 from the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colo., the featherweight is out to recapture that accolade when the two battle for the promotion’s title.

“I think I’m the best 145-pound fighter in Colorado,” Toner told The MMA Corner. “It’s important to me that people recognize that. A win over Dollar would definitely cement that for me.”

Toner (L) battles Nick Macias (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Since his release from the UFC in late 2010—following the only two-fight losing streak of his career—Toner has won back-to-back fights in Ring of Fire. Although defeating Dollar may be what earns Toner another call with a big show, he is just happy to be fighting again.

“It’s been really tough to find a fight,” Toner explained. “If it wasn’t for Sven (Bean), I probably wouldn’t have been able to find a fight. I e-mailed promoters in the US and internationally trying to get on cards. Without even asking how much I want, they’ll say I’m too expensive or they won’t be able to find anybody that wants to fight me.”

Now with an opponent, Toner must avoid the slow start, even in victory, that has hindered him in his past two fights against J.R. Sims and Nick Macias. Exactly how Toner accomplishes that and secures a third straight win may depend on how Dollar chooses to attack.

“Dollar is another well-rounded opponent and his style is a lot like Macias,” said Toner. “I think he’s willing to stand until he gets in trouble, and then he’ll try to take it to the ground.”

“I prefer to keep it standing, but I’m comfortable wherever it goes. However cliché that might sound,” Toner said with a laugh.

Despite comparing his current opponent to his last—which Toner defeated in a closely-contested decision—the featherweight feels that the fight with Dollar is a good match-up for him.

“I think his style plays pretty well into mine,” declared Toner. “He comes to fight and he’s not the type of fighter who’s going to try and stall out a victory. I think anybody that brings it to me, plays into my game plan.”

Toner (L) finishes J.R. Sims (April Pishna/Ring of Fire)

In the 18 months since his departure from the UFC, Toner has continued to develop his skills at Grudge Training Center and Easton Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He credits both with helping push him every day.

“On Saturday afternoons when I’m done with six straight days of training, I always say I’m lucky to have survived another week,” admitted Toner. “It’s brutal training, but it’s exactly what I need. I’d be ready to go five rounds with anybody.”

“(Since the UFC) the whole grappling aspect of my game has gotten a lot better,” Toner said. “I’ve especially concentrated on my wrestling, both offensive and defensive. I think I’m better at everything.”

So with a more refined skill set and a win on Saturday night, does Toner think he’s done enough to earn another opportunity in the big show?

“It’s hard to say,” said Toner. “They call you when they want you. It would be a good win. Dollar’s a tough guy and he’s beaten some good guys. Hopefully it’s something that will put me back on the radar and they’ll give me the call.”

Tyler would like to thank Brothers BBQ, Performance MMA, PellowBeggan, LLC and Rated Fresh Clothing. Follow him on Twitter: @TylerToner

Top Photo: Tyler Toner (Scott Petersen/MMA Weekly)