The UFC has seen many legends over the course of time. However, not all are made equal. 7 years ago the UFC fan base said goodbye to a famous fighter who was more than just your average UFC fighter. He wasn’t the most popular bet on FanDuel MMA, but he was a very popular fighter nonetheless.
We are of course talking about Kevin Randleman, an MMA fighter and pro wrestler. He was also a UFC Heavyweight Champion. His background started off in collegiate wrestling, where he ended up becoming a 2x NCAA Division I and 3x Big Ten champion out of Ohio State.
They also competed in heavyweight and light heavyweight MMA classes, as well as UFC competitions. Randleman also fought for organizations such as WVR, PRIDE, and Strike force. He was also associated with Team Hammer House before he trained in Vegas.
Randleman passed away in 2016, and in 2020, the UFC finally announced that he would be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame pioneer wing.
He is known as the first ever fighter in the UFC to be posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame. Let’s learn some more about him and the legacy he left behind.
Who Was Kevin Randleman?
Randleman was from Ohio, and has 10 siblings, he grew up without much, and often found himself in street fights, he started all four years in High school on the football team, and ran track where he qualified for the Finals, then in the wrestling team his record stood at 122-11, and he won the championship in 1989.
He then went on to pursue wrestling at Ohio State University. In his first freshman year he had 42 victories, and a 1st place finish in the final tournament, earning an All-American title before he ended up losing the final to Reiland.
In his sophomore year he went undefeated, and won the tournament again in his junior year in spite of a jaw dislocation during the tournament.
Due to academic issues, he became ineligible to wrestle in his senior year, and after he left Ohio State, he moved onto Lindenwood. However, then in ‘02 he was nominated as the Ohio State University Wrestler of the Century in a unique turn of events.
Randleman’s MMA Career
Randleman entered MMA in 1996 when one of his coaches at Ohio State offered him a place in the Universal Vale Tudo Fighting 4 located in Brazil. He accepted and joined.
In the course of his MMA career, Randleman had a Total 33 record, with 17 wins, 8 by decision and 9 by knockout. He also suffered 16 losses, 4 by knockout, 8 by submission, and 4 by decision.
So, as you can see, he was not an incredible feat that was stealing away all wins in UFC betting, but he was significant enough.
Suspension, Controversies, & Illness
Towards the end of his career he suffered a lot of controversies, illnesses and was suspended.
After his fight with Rua, he failed a drug test by the NAC, he submitted a urine sample, but it had no hormones in it which suggested it was fake.
Then in early 2007, he was hospitalized due to serious kidney damage. In an interview later, he stated that he failed to submit a urine sample due to the antibiotics and painkillers from his surgeries, which may have prevented him from being cleared.
His health issues were due to the overall effects of surgeries, medicine and fighting.
Later he was sidelined for over a year to talk about the ‘fake’ sample and his revoked fighting license. Luckily he was able to apply for a license to fight in October. He also suffered a staph infection under his arm which ended up in his bloodstream, which nearly killed him.
This infection left a gaping hole under his arm, and shut down his kidney and liver, leaving him in a coma.
He began his wrestling career in 2002 in All Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle-1, which brought together MMA and kickboxers in wrestling matches.
He wrestled Satoshi Kojima and Hiroshi Hase and lost, but the next event he defeated Jan the Giant Convict and Singh the Giant Convict
I ‘03 he started working with Pro Wrestling Zero One where he teamed up with The Predator in the OH Tag Festival, they took out Yohsiaki Fujiwara and Yuki Ishikawa, however they lost in the finals to Katsuhisa Fuji.
Later he appeared in Hustle, and fought Wataru Sakata but lost, he was expelled and left, but then returned in ‘07 and eventually took down Kohei Sato and Piranha Monster in his last appearance.
The Overall Randleman – What He Meant To Family & Fans Alike
When Randleman passed away, we really saw his true legacy. His fighting was good, but the real legacy was in his family and his fans.
His love of cherry Kool-Aid and admiration for butterflies, keeps his family smiling, and his spirit persists. His widow spoke to a wheelchair-bound Russian fan who told her he found Randleman to be an inspiration to him.
And Victor LiPari who trained under Kevin visits Kevin’s wife and made a habit of rubbing his UFC heavyweight title belt before each fight.
While his fights made him famous, it’s the people who loved him who keep his legacy alive.