On February 11th the MMA community was informed that Kevin Randleman passed away due to pneumonia related heart failure at the age of 44.
Randleman was born on August 10, 1971 and raised in Sandusky, Ohio.
After wrestling in high school he joined the Ohio State University Buckeyes where he became a three time NCAA Division I wrestling finalist, winning the tournament twice.
Following his wrestling career, Randleman was recruited by Mark Coleman (one of his coaches at Ohio State) into MMA and entered the Universal Vale Tudo 4 tournament on October 22, 1996 which he won.
The next year on March 3rd, Randlman followed up with an appearance in the UVT 6 tournament where he made it to the finals, losing to Carlos Barreto in the finals.
Later on June 15th, Randleman entered the Brazil Open ’97 tournament and again made it to the finals, losing to Tom Erickson.
Randleman was then recruited to the UFC where he competed for the vacant UFC Heavyweight Championship and defeated Maurice Smith before losing to Bas Rutten in what is considered a controversial decision. However, Randleman subsequently won the title after Rutten vacated it and he was matched against Pete Williams.
He was able to defend the title once against Pedro Rizzo before losing it to Randy Couture. Randleman would fight twice more in the UFC to Chuck Liddell and Renato Sobral, losing and winning respectively.
In late 2002, Randleman would compete in Pride Fighting Championships where he would have mixed results in his tenure, defeating the likes of Murilo Rua and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic but losing to fighters like Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Kazushi Sakuraba, Fedor Emelianenko (who he slammed on his head just before being submitted) and Mauricio Rua.
Following a year layoff and the closure of Pride, Randleman alternated between competing in Strikeforce and World Victory Road and ended his MMA career on a four fight losing streak.
Upon hearing of Randleman’s death, the MMA community reflected on his life and career on social media.
Announcer Mauro Ranallo said, “He was responsible for the most memorable call of my 30 year career.”
Frank Trigg said, “Kevin Randleman – Such a competitive spirit inside if an amazing athlete. He truly could do what ever he believed he could do.”
Julie Kenzie reflected on a particularly touching story saying, “Keving Randleman picked me up & put me on his shoulder after my first fight. Made me feel like a hero.”
An incomplete list of the MMA community reactions is available on MMA Junkie.
Randleman is survived by his wife Elizabeth Broglia, two sons and a daughter.