I am shocked and very sad about the untimely death of one of MMA’s greatest, the “Monster” Kevin Randleman. I woke up to the news that Kevin died of a heart failure last night. With him, the MMA world does not only lose a former UFC heavyweight champion, but also one of its most iconic figures. A freakishly athletic wrestler with bleach-blond hair, Randleman mauled his way onto the scene by winning a pair of 8-man and 4-man tournaments in Brazil in the mid/late 90s.
I first saw Kevin fight Pete Williams at UFC 23, where he won the vacant UFC title after previously losing it to Bas Rutten a few months earlier in a highly controversial fight. I was there when he grinded out a hard-fought decision over tough Fatih Kocamis in Rotterdam in 2005 and sent the Turkish-German brawler into retirement.
I briefly bumped into him again at UFC 95 where I introduced a young Peter Sobotta to a lot of people he had previously only seen on television. Even though we were both young rugrats back then, Kevin was extremely nice and took the time to offer some advice on Peter’s fledgling career. We brought up his name again last year when we were looking for a guest coach for the Planet Eater summer camp, but ultimately went with Ernesto Hoost instead.
Kevin was not only a great champion, coach and family man, he was also one of my childhood idols. His suplex of all-time GOAT Fedor Emelianenko at the second round of the PRIDE Grand Prix 2004 is one of the greatest moments this sport has ever produced. Professional wrestling is an industry that eats its own children. Here’s one hoping the same won’t happen in MMA as well.
As for Kevin, he has probably already broken out his singlet and is doing a few rounds with Dave Schultz on the big wrestling mat in heaven. Rest in Peace.