In the world of MMA, as in everywhere else, that first look can be deceiving. Such is the case with Canada’s Ryan Jimmo, the former MFC light heavyweight champion who just saw his scheduled bout this Saturday vs. Croatia’s Igor Pokrajek moved up from the UFC 161 Winnipeg prelim card to the grandeur of the UFC 161 main card.
Jimmo’s shaved head, nondescript nickname (seriously, how many “Real Deals” can we get?), and tanned and muscular appearance may infer one style – that classic North American wrestle-box style, aggressive and always looking for a “Fight of the Night” bonus. Then, listen to an interview. Yep, it all seems consistent. When asked about his fighting philosophy, he quotes the ethos of one of his heroes – but it’s a bodybuilder, Dorian Yates, not a samurai or a Zen monk.
“Dorian Yates had an interesting philosophy,” Jimmo begins in a Bleacher Report interview from 2011. “He wanted to be the greatest that he could possibly be. His challenge wasn’t so much an external one against his challengers, but an internal one with himself… as long as I constantly challenge myself to be as perfect as I can possibly be, then my goals of being the greatest in the world are within my grasp.”
Hmmmm. It’s a more introspective approach than one may have expected – perhaps more reminiscent of Miyamoto Musashi (“Be victorious over the yourself of yesterday”) than Arnold Schwartzenegger.
The Real Deal is that this is no brawler. Jimmo, who enjoys chess when he’s not training with the Blackzilians in Florida, enters his bouts in a wide stance to suck his opponents in for counters, a la Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. In fact, at times he resembles a classic MMA fighter who just watched a Machida instructional. The thing is, he does it really well. Instead of Machida’s big straight left, Jimmo flutters leg-kicks with either leg, switching stances gracefully from Orthodox to southpaw. Jimmo often mixes in his punches with a spinning back-kick as well.
He generally shows patience and discipline with those punches, but has been able to score seven MMA knockouts in his 19 bouts, including an uncharacteristically quick seven-second stoppage of Anthony Perosh at UFC 149.
As it turns out, in addition to the classic football background, Jimmo has an extensive pedigree in karate. He’s listed as a four-time Canadian champion with a black belt in the Chito-Ryu style. His wrestling and ground game have seen steady improvement as well.
Still, the breaks haven’t always come his way. It was an unsuccessful appearance on The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 where a still-learning Jimmo suffered a slow decision loss. He slid a bit with another decision loss to James Te-Huna at UFC on Fuel in February. Now, with an injury forcing the Antônio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua bout off the show, Jimmo will have a chance to shine before a Canadian crowd on his first UFC PPV appearance against the Croatian Pokrajak.
It would seem times are good for this Canadian dragon to rise!