Yesterday afternoon I received a message from a good friend who lives and trains in Phoenix AZ that a mutual friend of ours might have been the victim of a fatal hit and run accident. It had not yet been confirmed by relatives, Doc told me, but it appeared that the tragic news was true. He promised to keep me posted. Of course over the next few hours I did my own research, and it didn’t take long for the MMA community to get confirmation that the victim of the hit-and-run accident in Edmonton was in fact Ryan Jimmo, as my friend and so many had feared.
Jimmo and I did not share the close, brotherly bond of training-partners or teammates, but we were friends because of our time spent trying out for the Ultimate Fighter reality TV series back in 2008. For whatever reason, we spent our extensive downtime at the tryout process together, and shared one of the more memorable dinners of my life with two lightweight fighters trying out for the same season named Wesley Murch and Philipe Nover. It turned out that three of the four of us would lose our qualifier fights to get into the TUF house and be forced to seek UFC berths the hard way. Even after going our separate ways though, we’ve stayed in loose contact over the years through social media and the like.
As fate would have it, Ryan Jimmo and I would reunite 6 years after our TUF experience; this time as opponents. My UFC debut was offered as an injury replacement fight against Jimmo. We both laughed about the coincidence, but understood that this was the way of things in MMA and the UFC. During fight week we signed posters together, joked around in the hotel lobby, and of course shared a ‘toast’ at the weigh-ins that continues to circulate around the internet. At the end of a relatively spirited first round, I rushed to re-engage in a striking exchange and Jimmo landed a perfectly-timed right hand that separated me from my senses. He knocked me out in my UFC debut. Naturally I was upset about the result, but in the spirit of good sportsmanship, Jimmo checked on me afterward. We ended up seated cageside and watched the rest of the fights together, catching up on eachothers’ lives and whatnot. He and his coach, Aaron Simpson, asked about my book. I’m pretty sure they both actually read it eventually. Jimmo didn’t gloat about the victory, or the fact that he was awarded KO of the night bonus. He ended up seated next to my older brother on the plane ride home, and the two of them discussed philosophy. A few weeks later, Jimmo and Simpson invited me to Phoenix to train with them. My day job prevented me from taking them up on it, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Ryan Jimmo did little to endear himself to the UFC brass during his tenure with the company because he was vocal about his concerns over things like the Reebok sponsorship deal and poor treatment of fighters. Fans loved him though, for his style and his robot dancing and his sense of humor. After being cut by the company, he lobbied for fighter rights, pushed for the Ali act to pass in MMA, and explored the possibilities of a fighter’s union. He was a smart, thoughtful guy who seemed to want to further our sport even if his best days as a competitor had passed.
It’s been over a year since the last time I spoke with him, so I’m not sure what he was up to most recently. But I know he didn’t deserve to be run down in a parking lot by two idiots in a truck and left there to die. Initial reports indicate that his death was the result of some sort of verbal altercation that resulted in a deliberate hit-and-run. Another reminder that nobody is really looking for a fair fight, and that tomorrow is unfortunately never. It’s sad and senseless. I hope that Ryan Jimmo is in a better place and that his 34 years were as full of fun and excitement as he made them look. I hope his friends and family can find peace. I hope Canadian police can help bring closure and justice to those who loved him. RIP Jimmo.
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