On Friday, April 11, the Resurrection Fighting Alliance hits the Cheyenne Ice & Events Center in Cheyenne, Wyo., for RFA 14.

Featured on the card will be WEC and UFC veteran Tyler Toner. The Colorado native is coming into this fight after beating Gilbert Jimenez at Fight to Win: Prize Fighting Championship 5.

Toner (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

Toner (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

“I started the year off with a pretty good win,” Toner told the MMA Corner. “I’ve always complained that I have a hard time staying consistent. I have a hard time finding fights, so I was pretty excited to get a fight right after my last one. I got a good win. And I’d love to keep that win streak going, so I’m going to go in there and try to knock my opponent out.”

Finding consistency is a battle for fighters on the regional circuit. Most regional promotions do not have the financial wherewithal to host events on a regular basis.

“It would be great to fight four or five times a year,” Toner said. “I don’t know how realistic that is fighting on the national and regional circuit. It’s just tough to stay consistent there. A lot of promoters don’t want to pay or they have a hard time finding match-ups or whatnot. I’m really happy to be with RFA because they have quite a few shows through the year, so that gives me a little bit better opportunity to stay consistent.”

For Toner, fighting for the RFA is just like fighting for the UFC. Sure, the crowds are smaller and the venues aren’t as glamorous, but fighting is fighting at the end of the day.

“I really don’t think it’s all that different,” Toner said. “I don’t know if that’s a strength of mine or what, but I put pretty much the same amount of pressure on myself no matter what the show is. I don’t think it really feels much different to me. Especially once you are in the cage, you just see your opponent. I would say that RFA is one of the biggest shows in the world outside of the UFC, so it feels pretty much the same.”

On Friday, Toner takes on Brazilian submission specialist Daniel Aguiar.

“I certainly have to be aware of his submissions. He seems to catch those foot locks really well,” Toner said. “I’ve seen him hit a couple upside-down armbars that are pretty cool. All his wins are first-round submissions, and he appears to be pretty aggressive with them. I just need to make sure I am staying away from that. I certainly do have a little more experience than him in MMA, but he’s a pretty decorated BJJ practitioner, so he has spent a pretty good amount of time competing. I think it’s going to be a tough fight. If I can stay away from his submissions, I’m going to be just fine.”

As a lifelong martial artist, Toner’s arrival in the world of MMA was a bit of a natural progression. It all started with the inspiration brought on by a pair of martial arts films.

Toner (R) looks for a right hand (Isaac Hinds/Sherdog)

Toner (R) looks for a right hand (Isaac Hinds/Sherdog)

“I’ve done martial arts my whole life,” said Toner. “I started out doing taekwondo, like a lot of other kids, probably because of watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Karate Kid. My older brother and I begged my parents to put us in karate lessons, and we kind of started there.

“My brother and I competed in taekwondo and did pretty well. From there, we both were searching for something a little more live, so we started training Jeet Kune Do with Jerry Ellison. I think he was way ahead of his time. He had us training grappling, boxing, thai boxing and all that stuff, so he was a mixed martial artist. That was probably 15 years ago or so. We did that when we were younger. Then, when we were in high school, I fell into team sports and stuff like that and I fell away from martial arts.

“Then, when I moved up to Boulder, I saw a BJJ school and I remember my Jeet Kune Do teacher telling us if we ever found a legit BJJ instructor, to jump right on it. That kind of piqued my interest. I started taking lessons two days a week, and that quickly turned into six days a week. I’ve always liked to compete, so I started to compete there. And the next logical step was MMA. I always enjoyed the striking more than the wrestling and ground game, so that favored me, as opposed to just grappling competitions. Curiosity just grew into a career.”

A career that has seen many ups and downs, big shows and small shows. While he is only in his early 30s, Toner knows that he can’t fight forever and that his career will be over before he knows it.

“I’m starting to look at the end of my career here,” Toner said. “I’m going to give myself one more big push to get a few more wins under my belt and get back to the UFC—that’s the ultimate goal.”

Tyler would like to thank Brawlin Combat Gear, Brothers BBQ and Shompton.com. He would also like to thank the Fuelary in Boulder, Colo. He would also like to give a big thanks to RFA, and to his friends and family for putting up with him when he is hungry and grumpy. Follow Toner on Twitter: @TylerToner

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.