Former UFC champion and MMA legend Kevin “The Monster” Randleman has reportedly died of a heart attack, reported MMA Fighting. He was 44 years old.
Following rumors of Kevin’s death, Bleacher Report‘s Jeremy Botter confirmed on Twitter that Randleman has indeed passed on. Randleman, known to the MMA world as “The Monster,” was admitted to a hospital for pneumonia on February 11 before suffering from a cardiac arrest due to complications.
Sad to confirm the passing of MMA pioneer Kevin Randleman at 44 years old. Went to hospital with pneumonia and had heart failure.
— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) February 12, 2016
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) February 12, 2016
Kevin Randleman, an MMA fighter known for his imposing physique and blonde platinum hair, began his MMA career in 1996. Representing Ohio State University, Randleman competed as a wrestler for NCA Division I under the Universal Vale Tudo Fighting banner from Brazil. Kevin won five of six matches during his stint as wrestler in said division.
In March 1999, Kevin Randleman made his successful Octagon debut by beating Maurice Smith via unanimous decision in the “Road to the Heavyweight Title” tournament. After two months, Randleman competed in the finals, where he lost to Bas Rutten in a controversial decision.
Randleman finally won the UFC heavyweight championship on November 1999 by beating Pete Williams by unanimous decision. It was an important win for “The Monster” since it was Pete Williams who knocked out one of his coaches in Ohio State University, Mark Coleman. In June 2000, Kevin successfully defended the title against Pedro Rizzo but lost the championship against Randy Couture by third round stoppage after five months.
Since his loss to Couture, Kevin had mixed results in his following MMA fights. He eventually went to Japan to compete in the now-defunct PRIDE organization, where he beat MMA athletes like Kenichi Yamamoto, Murilo Rua, and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic.
At this point, Randleman’s best days as a fighter were already behind him, but he showed flashes of his old brilliance numerous times as a PRIDE competitor.
Fighting as a heavy underdog against Mirko Filipovic in the first round of the PRIDE 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix, Randleman dropped “Cro Cop” on the canvass with a devastating left. After Kevin put him down, he managed to steamroll his way to victory using ground-and-pound tactics.
Kevin faced the legendary Fedor Emelianenko in the next round, where he executed a powerful suplex that dropped the Russian heavyweight champion on his head and neck. Emelianenko eventually recovered and won by submission via a first round Kimura lock, but it was Randleman’s suplex that people remembered the most after the fight.
Kevin Randleman with the greatest suplex of all time, how Fedor came back to win after this still perplexes me! pic.twitter.com/QROyYU8UMs
— Keith Ó Gealbháin (@KeithGalvin) February 12, 2016
Kevin Randleman retired from MMA with a 17-16 record after losing to Baga Agaev via first round-submission in May 2011. He leaves behind his wife Elizabeth and four children.
Following his death, many pros from the MMA community took a moment to mourn his loss and pay respects to the legacy he left in the sport.
Kevin my friend , my sorrows swell and my heart sinks as the sun sets on our journey. I embrace the memories of our time together in laughter , in the heat of combat , and in tears as we stumbled through this world. I never dreamed that I would sit alone decades later in reflection at the adventures we shared. I see your swagger and smile , eyes twinkle with devious delight as you bounded high in intimidating preparation for battle always aware that all eyes were on you. Magnetic and powerful you seemed to glow with anticipation at what the struggle would bring. You showed me the reward of daily toil and the joys of reckless abandon. You lived a life unimagined by most with a philosophy of someone who seemed to know both sides of the coin. We battled vicious demons , some side by side, and reveled in the victories always willing to share the spoils with any one in need. This life you led laid open an example of happiness and freedom for countless souls including mine that we would never have had the strength or courage to face on our own. We went willingly with you and witnessed mercy, compassion, and the miracle that was you to all those you touched and wisdom through your falls. There is no explanation, excuse , or apology for your life because it requires none! The good was great , the bad was -well bad. It was 100% Kevin and I'am blessed to have shared it. See you on the other side. Randy Couture
A sad day for the world of MMA as we've lost one of the pioneers of the sport, RIP my friend!! pic.twitter.com/F6PlS2vrna
— Ray Sefo (@SugarRaySefo) February 12, 2016
The world lost a beautiful man today????who wore his whole heart on his sleeve with contagious energy RIP "The Monster" https://t.co/OXvdHy6QW3
— Gina Carano (@ginacarano) February 12, 2016
So extremely sad to hear about the passing of Kevin Randleman. Truly one of the legends of (cont) https://t.co/LedD3Xo48T
— Dan Henderson (@danhendo) February 12, 2016
A lot of respect for the " Monster " Kevin Randelman , for what he did for the sport .
Rest in… https://t.co/h2s8S0PFPz
— Rodrigo Nogueira (@Minotauromma) February 12, 2016
Kevin Randleman picked me up & put me on his shoulder after my first fight. Made me feel like a hero. RIP to a Monster w/ a heart of gold.
— Julie Kedzie (@julesk_fighter) February 12, 2016
UFC Legend, Kevin Randleman Passes Away At Age 44. Can't believe my friend passed away. That's 2 in 2 months WoW pic.twitter.com/1lmKyWcMEi
— Gary H Goodridge (@garyhgoodridge) February 12, 2016
I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of the legend Kevin Randleman. RIP Kevin “The Monster" Randleman pic.twitter.com/MTC4nFAF29
— Dana White (@danawhite) February 12, 2016
— Chuck Liddell (@ChuckLiddell) February 12, 2016
[Photo by Isaac Brekken/AP Photo]