Following his release from the UFC in 2010, Toner spent eight months on the sidelines, but managed to make last year a successful one with back-to-back wins.
“I think they were both pretty good performances for me,” he said. “The first one came after a pretty long layoff, so I got off to a slow start, but I won both of them. As long as I win I feel good about it.”
Much to his dismay, Toner wasn’t able to keep the momentum going, as he’s spent the last six months waiting to fight again. Still, he used the time positively and feels better for it.
“I had a couple fights fall through, so I’ve been training for fights since the beginning of the year,” he told MMAWeekly.com. “Nothing’s really changed other than I’ve focused more on the grappling aspect – more wrestling and jiu-jitsu – so that’s improved.”
Toner will get a chance to showcase his new game when he returns to Ring of Fire this Saturday night in Broomfield, Colo., against fellow former UFC fighter Cameron Dollar for the promotion’s 145-pound championship.
“He comes to scrap for sure. He’s not a guy who is going to try to ride out a decision. So any guy who comes out like that kind of plays into my game plan,” said Toner of Dollar. “At the very least it will be an exciting fight. I think it’s a definite winnable one for me.
“Any fighter that’s coming to really scrap is going to create some openings. I think I can definitely end it standing, and if it does come to the ground, I feel he transitions a lot, so I will be able to find openings there as well.”
Toner admits he was hesitant at first about the possibility of fighting five rounds, but through training he feels he’s prepared for it and will be able to balance staying fresh while still being aggressive at the same time.
“When I signed the contract, I was a little nervous because I hadn’t fought five rounds before, but we trained hard for it and I’m ready to go 25 minutes if I need to,” he said. “(I had) longer training sessions, especially with my conditioning, just making sure I don’t gas myself out, while still keeping the intensity up for that long of a time.
“I feel that’s just kind of like the fighter that I am. I’m not always balls-to-the-wall all the time. I’m definitely ready to take any opening there is. And that’s basically what I’m going to do the whole fight, if nothing’s open one round, I’ll wait for in another while looking to finish the whole time.”
Having a late start to 2012, the goal for Toner the rest of the year is simple, “Hopefully just keep racking up wins. And hopefully each win gets me that much closer (to returning to the UFC).
“I think Cameron Dollar is a pretty good opponent for that. He’s been in the big show, he’s got some good wins over tough guys and is experienced, so a win over him definitely cements my place as the top 145-pounder in Colorado, and hopefully that’s enough to get a call from the UFC.”