EDMONTON – Edmonton police are investigating the hit and run death of former UFC fighter Ryan Jimmo.
Investigators say Jimmo, 34, was fatally injured early Sunday morning following an altercation in a parking lot in the Alberta capital.
They allege he had approached the driver of a vehicle and was walking back to his own car when he was struck by a vehicle, which then fled the scene.
Jimmo, who was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, was pronounced dead in hospital.
Late Sunday night police were still looking for the suspect vehicle, described as a dark coloured, customized older model pickup truck.
Known as “The Big Deal” during his mixed martial arts career, Jimmo made his sensational UFC debut at UFC 149 in Calgary in July 2012.
Fighting as a light heavyweight he tied the record for the organization’s fastest knockout when he dispatched Anthony Perosh in just seven seconds. Jimmo celebrated by doing a robot-dance followed by the splits in the middle of the cage.
The six-foot-two, 205-pounder had a black belt in karate and was part of UFC’s TV series “The Ultimate Fighter” season 8.
Jimmo went 19-5 in his MMA career, with a 3-4 record in seven UFC fights — his last fight being a loss to Francimar Barroso at UFC Fight Night 67 in May 2015.
The native Maritimer had most recently lived in Arizona after stints in Edmonton and Halifax.
His death prompted a social media outpouring from the MMA community.
UFC president Dana White tweeted a photo of Jimmo flexing on stage at an unspecified event and the caption “RIP Ryan Jimmo.”
Former UFC combatant Kenny Florian tweeted: “So sad to hear the news about Ryan Jimmo.”
From Sean O’Connell: “@RyanJimmo KO’d me in my @UFC debut. But we knew and supported each other long before that. RIP to a man who was much more than a fighter.”
Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman tweeted: “Wow! Sad to hear about the recent tragic passing of UFC Vet Ryan Jimmo. Terrible! My prayers out to his family during this time.”
And MMA fighter Michael Chiesa tweeted: “Jimmo was a cool dude, always a pleasure talking to him and had one of the best victory dances.”
Prior to entering the UFC, Jimmo was light-heavyweight champion of the Edmonton-based Maximum Fighting Championship.
Injuries played a factor in his losses to Ovince Saint Preux (arm), Jimi Manuwa (ankle) and James Te Huna (partially torn quad). Jimmo had UFC wins over O’Connell, Igor Pokrajac and Perosh.
On his UFC bio, he listed his heroes as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Albert Einstein and Bruce Lee.
Jimmo was hard to miss, a slab of muscle with a shaved head and 73-inch reach, but he was light on his feet, fighting with the speed and sideway stance of a karate fighter.
Outside the cage, Jimmo did not hesitate to speak his mind especially when it came to fighter pay and security.
“There’s some fighters I know, who fight in the UFC, who are living in someone’s basement for free because they can’t afford to pay rent somewhere and have a vehicle,” he said in a 2015 interview with The Canadian Press. “And we’re talking about world-class athletes.
“We’re talking about people who literally, if they do this long enough, they could end up with brain damage, broken bones.”
Jimmo argued the current UFC compensation model works for a few elite fighters but not for the vast majority.
The Canadian fighter had ups and downs in the sport.
He broke his arm in a loss to Saint Preux at UFC 174, possibly from blocking a kick early in the bout. He kept going but stopped in the second round after the fight went to the ground.
“I was starting to get up and pushed on my arm and then it was like ‘Oh, the bone’s not there any more … this isn’t too good. I guess my arm is broken.'”
It was a clean break but needed a plate and seven screws to repair.