“What happened to him is a tragedy,” said Peter Martell, Jimmo’s former MMA coach and one of the owners of Titan’s Fitness Academy in Halifax.
Jimmo, nicknamed “The Big Deal,” was struck by a vehicle and killed in a hit and run in south Edmonton early Sunday morning.
Martell first met the 34-year-old New Brunswick native a few years ago when he came into Titan’s as a karate athlete. Martell said Jimmo was quick to pick up the new sport and became “very good, very fast.”
“I knew Ryan inside and outside of the gym and he was a nice guy. He was a gentle soul, he was always happy, always joking. I don’t think I ever heard him say anything bad about anybody,” Martell said.
Jimmo trained at the Halifax facility for a couple of years. In that time, the pair became good friends. Martell said Jimmo was a smart guy, an avid chess player and overall “just the nicest guy you’d ever meet.”
“Nobody deserved this and certainly not Ryan Jimmo,” Martell said. “He still had his whole life in front of him.
Luke Harris has known Jimmo for about 10 years, having worked with him as a training partner and coach at Hayabusa Training Centre in St. Albert.
Harris described Jimmo as a goofy guy who loved cracking jokes and doing the robot. But above all, he said Jimmo was a great friend.
“He was just a pleasure to be around. If you know Ryan, he’s never a guy that’s too serious. He’s serious when he’s in the cage and looks like a big tough guy, but I mean, he’s probably the gentlest, easy-going guy you’d ever meet with an absolutely huge heart,” Harris said. “It’s a big tragedy losing a guy like that. Especially 34 and such a special person.
Harris said Jimmo was living in Arizona but recently made the decision to move back to Edmonton. He was only in the capital city for a couple of days before he was killed.
“He was just in town, showing his girlfriend around and I think it was just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Another MMA fighter who also has ties to the Capital Region offered a statement to Global News.
“I trained with Ryan as soon as he moved to Edmonton,” Sheldon Westcott, who fights out of St. Albert, said. “He was a larger-than-life personality and we rose through the ranks of the Maximum Fighting Championship together as training partners. We got to know each other better when he lived with my friend in St. Albert, John Yallits.
“Ryan got the call up to the UFC a year before I did but it was almost destiny that we fought on the same card for my first UFC fight after The Ultimate Fighter in Quebec where he scored a victory over Sean O’Connell,” Westcott said.
Edmonton police said a verbal altercation took place between the drivers of two vehicles in the area of Whyte Avenue and 101 Street at around 2:15 a.m. Sunday.
The driver of one of the vehicles reportedly walked to the other vehicle. As he walked away, the driver of the other vehicle allegedly struck him and drove away.
An autopsy Tuesday confirmed Jimmo died from blunt force trauma.
Jordan Herman and her boyfriend were walking to the nearby liquor store just after 2 a.m. Sunday and said they heard a commotion as they approached the strip mall.
“All of a sudden a truck comes flying out of here, out of the H2O parking lot… almost hits a red car then goes into oncoming traffic and then turns off into the proper traffic (lanes),” Herman explained.
“I came walking into the parking lot and I seen a man lying face down in a pool of blood. There was a woman screaming, there was a couple people freaking out so I ran up because I know first aid and stuff and I told everybody not to touch him because he was injured.”
Herman said she talked to the injured man in hopes of keeping him conscious and alert. Jimmo was taken to hospital where he died.
“It was very sad,” Herman said Monday.
Police were looking for the suspect’s vehicle, which was last seen heading east on Whyte Avenue near 99 Street. They believe there were at least two men in the vehicle, described as a dark-coloured, older-model single-cab pickup truck with a truck-bed cover, oversized tires with chrome rims and clear tail lights.
The vehicle believed to be involved in the fatal hit and run was found late Monday evening in Edmonton and was seized for forensic examination.
Homicide detectives have since taken over the investigation.
During his MMA 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 was also a champion in the Edmonton-based Maximum Fighting Championship and he appeared in the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter.
With files from The Canadian Press.