UFC and Pride Fighting Championships veteran Kevin Randleman has died at 44 years old.
Wes Sims, who once trained alongside Randleman at Mark Coleman’s Team Hammer House, confirmed the news to Sherdog.com on Thursday evening via text message. Bleacher Report’s Jeremy Botter revealed on Twitter that the fighter went to the hospital with pneumonia and died of heart failure.
A two-time NCAA national champion wrestler at Ohio State University, Randleman began his mixed martial arts career in 1996 under the Universal Vale Tudo Fighting banner in Brazil. He made his Octagon debut in 1997, taking a unanimous decision over Maurice Smith at UFC 19. Two bouts later, he captured the promotion’s heavyweight title with a five-round verdict over Pete Williams at UFC 23. Randleman defended the belt once before losing it to Randy Couture at UFC 28.
Randleman made his Pride debut in 2002 and compiled a 4-7 record with the Japanese promotion over the next three-plus years, including wins over Mirko Filipovic and Murilo Rua. He also notably squared off with the likes of Quinton Jackson, Kazushi Sakuraba and Mauricio Rua during his tenure.
Known as “The Monster,” Randleman last fought on May 7, 2011, losing to Baga Agaev via first-round armbar at an event in Russia.