After two straight losses in the UFC last year, Tyler “Thunder” Toner knew he was in need of a win this past weekend at Ring of Fire 41 in Broomfield, Colo., to get back on track. What he didn’t know was how dramatic of a comeback he’d need in order to get that win.
It was clear early on in the fight that J.R. Sims had the advantage; timing Toner’s leg kicks, catching them and taking him down. It was there on the ground where things looked bleakest for Toner.
“I just couldn’t do anything on the bottom,” Toner admitted to MMAWeekly.com. “I was getting into full guard and trying to work armbars and triangles, but couldn’t quite catch them; and he was landing some pretty good ground and pound.”
Sims’ ground assault paid off, as he managed to open a gash on Toner’s head in the second round. Perhaps sensing the fight was slipping away from him, Toner took over in the third and managed to pull victory from the jaws of defeat.
“In the third round, I guess he just kind of gassed out and I kept going,” said Toner. “I landed a pretty good knee that staggered him. It ended up with him on the cage and I was just throwing punches until the referee stopped it.”
Toner says he wasn’t worried about the cut in the moment as much as the eventual outcome if he hadn’t managed to take over late in the fight.
“I don’t know that I was worried, but I was definitely frustrated, though,” he said. “I kind of thought that I was going to lose another decision like that – getting grounded and pounded – which is what happened in my last two fights pretty much.
“I wanted to make sure I didn’t let another decision get away from me like that, so I went nuts on him in the third round.”
Normally Toner would wait for a call to determine his next move, but following his win, he made it clear where he’d like to be fighting.
“Usually I just kind of take fights as they come, but I just saw that Diego Nunes’ opponent (Manny Gamburyan) dropped out (of their UFC 135) fight, and it is here in Colorado, and I’d love to fight for them at the Pepsi Center, so I kind of tried to put that out there after the fight,” said Toner.
“We’ll see if they’re interested in calling me back for that one. If that doesn’t happen, I’m sure another opportunity will come up. I’m in no rush.”
While he says he’s willing to take his time to re-establish himself, he does acknowledge that returning to the UFC is what he’s ultimately working towards.
“More so I’m just trying to get back on track,” he said. “I started out with a bang last year when I beat (Brandon) Visher, and then I just kind of took a bad turn with my two (UFC) losses in a row.
“I had a couple fights fall out on me, and finally I got this Ring of Fire one set, and I just wanted to get a win and make sure I got back on track. I’m in no rush, but I think the eventual is to get back to the UFC.”
While it might have been more dramatic than he had liked, Toner’s win this past weekend at Ring of Fire has definitely set the table for his comeback, and he’s eager for more in the coming months.
“Just keep your eyes out for me,” he said in closing. “I want to thank all my coaches, all my sponsors and all that stuff.
“I’m pretty ugly right now, but I didn’t get beat up too bad. I have a couple of stitches in my forehead, and that’s pretty much the only injury I have. I should be able to get back to training next week; stay in shape and hopefully something else will come up pretty quick.”