Former UFC heavyweight champion and collegiate wrestling legend, Kevin Randleman, will join the UFC Hall of Fame 2020 class, as the 17th member of the “pioneer” wing.
The man known as “The Monster” wore the heavyweight strap in the early days of the now-global giant called UFC, but he was already a star in the wrestling world before he ever stepped into a cage.
Randleman, a native of Sandusky, Ohio, was a two-time NCAA Division I National Champion (1992, 1993) and All-American wrestler for The Ohio State University, compiling the third-best winning percentage in Ohio State history. In 2002, he was chosen as OSU’s “Wrestler of the Century.”
He made his UFC debut on March 5, 1999, at UFC 19 defeating former UFC heavyweight champion Maurice Smith. The same Smith who had previously dropped the UFC heavyweight title to Randy Couture.
Eight months later, Randleman would win the then-vacant heavyweight title by defeating Pete Williams at UFC 23. He would defend the title once, defeating Pedro Rizzo, before dropping the title to Randy Couture at UFC 28 in November 2000.
Randleman made his debut in the legendary PRIDE FC organization in 2002 and would score the most famous win of his career in 2004.
On April 25, 2004, Randleman shocked the world when he scored a knockout victory of Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipović in the first round of their fight. This was at a time when ‘Cro Cop’ was the most feared striker in the sport, writing his own legend by laying waste to a murderer’s row of MMA legends.
“The Monster” faced the very best of his generation, owning a 17-16 record and retiring before mixed martial arts was legal in all 50 states.
After his career ended, he founded the non-profit ‘Monster Wrestling Academy’ at Coronado High School in Las Vegas, teaching wrestling to kids across the city.
In February 2016, Kevin Randleman suffered a fatal heart attack and passed away at the age of 44.
His physique and accolades made him a real life action hero in the fledgling days of cage fighting, but now his legacy will endure forever alongside the other legends of combat sports.