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.
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 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.
[Photo by Isaac Brekken/AP Photo]