Sad, sad news for the MMA world.
According to his family, former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman died suddenly. He was 44 years old.
Randleman was a familiar face for old school MMA. Debuting in 1996, he joined the UFC in 1999 with a win over former heavyweight champion Maurice Smith. He would then challenge Bas Rutten for the heavyweight title and while he came up short, he next fought Pete Williams six months later for the vacant heavyweight title, winning by unanimous decision.
Randleman would eventually make his way to Pride FC in 2002, and defeated the likes of Murilo “Ninja” Rua and Mirko Cro Cop. He retired in 2011 with a career record of 17-16.
According to Damon Martin of FoxSports.com (@DamonMartin on Twitter), Randleman had pneumonia, followed by heart failure. Details regarding how he died are still breaking.
The news brought forth an outpouring of support from the MMA community, as many other fighters shared their memories of Randleman. Dana White tweeted out a short video of one of Randleman’s greatest highlights, his vicious suplex of Fedor Emelianenko in 2004 in the Pride Heavyweight Grand Prix:
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
Former champions in both MMA and kickboxing discussed Randleman’s impact and importance:
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
Sad news about my fellow veteran fighter….we saw this thing through when it wasn't the popular thing to do. May you RIP Randleman
— Jens Pulver (@jens_pulver) February 12, 2016
@Mike_Pyle very nice of you to offer your "thoughts"… Scumbag
— Jamal Jenkins (@WorkingBrother) February 12, 2016
Just heard that the MMA community lost a great fighter tonight at only 44 yrs old. RIP Kevin Randleman. Prayers go out to his family.
— Rich Franklin (@RichFranklin) February 12, 2016