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Canadian fighter Ryan (The Big Deal) Jimmo pushing for change in UFC

05/28/2015 05:02 EDT | Updated 05/28/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Canadian fighter Ryan (The Big Deal) Jimmo returns to action Saturday after almost a year off. Injuries, however, haven't prevented the outspoken UFC light-heavyweight from fighting for what he believes is right.

In a sport where job security is next to nil, the 33-year-old Jimmo doesn't pull punches outside the cage. The Saint John native, who now calls Arizona home after stints in Edmonton and Halifax, has spoken out against the UFC's deal with Reebok and in favour of a fighters' association.

"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 an interview. "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 argues the current UFC compensation model works for a few elite fighters but not for the vast majority. Some fighters could make the same or more at Starbucks and Subway than they do "fighting on the biggest stage in the world."

The six-foot-two 205-pound black belt in karate says he has yet to feel a UFC backlash for his outspoken views.

"I haven't heard a word from anyone in regards to anything that I've said," he said. "I've said quite a bit. I'm actually a little bit surprised nobody's called me up and kind of waved a finger at me.

"To be honest with you I think it's something that needs to be talked about a little bit more."

Jimmo, while acknowledging the sport of MMA is young, maintains change is needed to get fighters a more equitable share of the revenue.

That's difficult with the UFC, a privately owned company that dominates the sport and has tight control over its 585-plus fighters under contract.

"It's going to take a little bit of time to change. Hopefully I can help push it in that direction," said Jimmo, who has even tweeted his disapproval to UFC president Dana White about the seats he got for one of the organization's cards.

Jimmo (19-4) meets heavy-handed Brazilian Francimar Barroso (16-4) on Saturday in Goiania, Brazil, on the undercard of a televised UFC card that sees Carlos (The Natural Born Killer) Condit, ranked fourth among welterweight contenders, face No. 12 Thiago (Pitbull) Alves in the main event.

It's Condit's first fight since March 2014 when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a loss to Tyron (The Chosen One) Woodley at UFC 171.

Jimmo last fought in June when he broke his arm in a loss to Ovince 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. Jimmo, who says his arm is as strong as ever, says he would have returned to action sooner but needed to "take care of some stuff in my life."

Jimmo's UFC career has been eventful. Injuries played a factor in losses to Saint Preux, Jimi Manuwa (ankle) and James Te Huna (partially torn quad). He has wins over Sean O'Connell, Igor Pokrajac and Anthony Perosh.

He made his UFC debut with a bang at UFC 149 in July 2012, tying the record for the organization's fastest knockout when he dispatched Perosh in seven seconds. Jimmo celebrated by doing a robot-dance followed by the splits in the middle of the cage.

While four of Jimmo's six UFC bouts have been at home, he has also fought in Australia and England. He says he has no problem fighting in someone else's backyard.

"When they close that cage door, there could be like fires and explosions going on outside and you're pretty focused on the person right in front of you. You shouldn't really notice anything else, you've got a guy trying to take your head off."

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