–Kenny Rice

How good is the best fighter in the MFC? The one with 15 straight wins? The one with the Light Heavyweight championship belt?

It would seem rhetorical to everyone but the fighter himself. Ryan Jimmo is certain he will successfully defend his title October 7 against Thierry Sokoudjou but still has questions about how good he is in the bigger picture of MMA.

“By nature I have always been a little insecure. Never feeling I’m ready, nothing is good enough,” he speaks calmly in the taxi ride to the Los Angeles airport. “Even as the champion there is that question in my mind, ‘how good  am I ?’ ”

Less than a quarter-mile later on the heavily traveled 101, a sly grin comes across Jimmo’s face. “I am never at peace and I am at peace with that. Kind of Ricky Bobby sounding isn’t it?”

A Hollywood reference about a Will Ferrell movie, on the Hollywood Freeway was well timed by the Canadian. It is that mix of talent, self deprecation and patience that could put him onto the U.S. fight scene in the near future. He has plans of training in the States within the year, and there is the ultimate as with any fighter of note, the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

“I think about the UFC, who doesn’t with any success. But it’s about being in the right position, right frame of mind. I see some guys go there too soon, they aren’t ready to cope with the mental aspects. They have a huge hole in their game, maybe ground maybe standup but they are well rounded. I want to wait a little longer and have all the pieces in place.

“When I get there I want to stick around to do some damage.” He looks out the window at downtown LA, satisfied for once that he has found his answer with confidence and thoughtfulness.

That has been a mantra for the 6’2″ Jimmo since he was knee high to his father Paul, a fifth-degree black belt in Karate, to think things through, seek answers. “He has always kept me grounded. From my first lesson in martial arts to winning the belt, his influence has always been there to keep the mind and spirit in sync.”

Satori, a Zen fashion of enlightenment he explains in his approach to fighting and living.

Since losing his MMA debut in February 2007 by TKO in less than two minutes into the fight, Jimmo didn’t panic or brood. He asked himself how to get better, sought advice from his father and those he respected. He found answers quickly with 15 consecutive wins since then.

More than his physical skills, the mental approach has always been his intangible in the ring. Almost half his victories, seven, have been by decision. Though he has six wins by way of knockout, he carefully calculates his actions and his opponent’s reaction. Karate has taught him that, as well as chess. At one time he was the third ranked player in his country. And though it has been “several years” since he played competitively he feels he could still “do well against a low level master” if needed.

He “is terrible at checkers though.” And that reveals another layer of this thinking man fighter, never considered a brawler but a tactician.  Jimmo’s cerebral attack has served him well. He’s not about a couple of double jumps, more about precision, meticulous moves as his fights unfold.

We arrive at LAX, and he has another take on the conversation of seeking answers, having doubts at times. “All athletes are like that,” he assess, “That’s the challenge that keeps us going.”

He heads to the Air Canada terminal, with an attitude, an awareness, that could mean Jimmo is far from his destination in MMA

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