There was sad news today for MMA fans still reeling from the death of Kimbo Slice earlier this month. Ryan Jimmo, a longtime light heavyweight and seven-fight veteran of the UFC, was reportedly killed early Sunday following an altercation outside a nightclub in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Jimmo was 34.
According to news reports, at about 2:15 Jimmo walked up to the occupants of a vehicle in the parking lot outside the H20 Lounge on Whyte Avenue and 101st Street and when he turned around to walk back to his own car, the suspects’ vehicle accelerated and struck him before driving off. Police say they’re looking for the vehicle, a “dark-colored pickup-truck,” and the two Caucasian males who were in it.
Edmonton-based mixed martial artist Victor Valimaki told reporters Jimmo had just arrived in Edmonton to prepare for a fight and was planning to start his training camp today. “I guess he wanted to go last night as his last time to go out before he started his training camp, and then, this happened,” Valimaki said. “He’s a very intellectual guy. It’s kind of ironic that that would happen the one time he goes out.”
Jimmo was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died of his injuries shortly afterwards. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.
Though Jimmo was never a star in the UFC, the response to his passing within the MMA community, including by many who are big stars, is evidence of the sport’s greatest, thankfully still-abiding, virtue. Even as MMA becomes a phenomenon that generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, and even as its biggest names edge closer to the kind of cultural saturation and super-humanity we now expect from stars in other, more mainstream sports, the sense of access and equality has yet to vanish, the sense that fighters are fighters regardless of their name recognition or wallet size, that fighting is a community first and a business second, that fighting and being in love with fighting grants one membership in a small but vital club, that our little corner of the sports world, even as it expands and creeps its way into the daily cultural debate, remains just that: a little corner. And the overwhelming reaction to the death of a fighter who was on a losing streak and had been out of the UFC for a year shows an understanding, however subconscious, among fighters that the fates can and will lift up and dash down everyone in equal measure; that the bells tolls for all of us; that, like the Wheel of Boethius, inconstancy is the very essence of the world, and even more so the fighting world. Because fighters know (perhaps more than anyone) that losses and wins come and go, often without reason, and that the only true thing one can hold onto in the world of fighting is your identity as a fighter. The career of Ryan Jimmo and the response from his colleagues is further proof of the great democratizing, equalizing, ennobling power of MMA. “Good times pass away, but then so do the bad,” Boethius wrote. “Mutability is our tragedy, but it's also our hope. The worst of times, like the best, are always passing away.”
To that point: After failing to earn a spot in the Ultimate Fighter house during the reality show’s eighth season in 2008, Jimmo entered the UFC four years later on a legendary note, knocking out Anthony Perosh in just seven seconds at UFC 149 on July 21, 2012, tying the record for quickest knockout in the promotion’s history.
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