Kevin Randleman started his professional mixed martial arts career in Brazil in 1996, facing some of the toughest local and American opponents around at the time. In just eight months, he fought eight times in three open-weight tournaments contested under vale tudo rules. His heart and courage won him fans and great respect from the entire Brazilian martial arts community.
Randleman’s unexpected death at the age of 44 on Feb. 11 sent pulses of emotion throughout Brazil. Former opponents like Carlos Barreto (met Randleman in the Universal Vale Tudo Fighting 6 final), Ebenezer Braga (engaged Randleman in a 20-minute war at UVF 6) and Murilo Rua (fought Randleman at Pride 24) took to social media to pay tribute to “The Monster,” along with admirers like Ricardo Arona and former Pride Fighting Championships titleholders Wanderlei Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
A brief look into their thoughts:
Ebenezer Braga: “Sad to see another friend leaving. Kevin was a true icon of the sport and one of the strongest opponents I fought in my life. Hope God embraces him and his family.”
Carlos Barreto: “What a great athlete and true warrior. Definitely, he wrote his name in the history of the sport. I will always remember him doing those scary jumps before the fight. I’m really sad for his passing. I hope God blesses and comforts his kids and wife.”
Murilo Rua: “I remember he impressed with his strength and power. What a great battle we had at Pride 24, and later, he also fought my brother. Randleman was definitely one of the biggest icons of our sport. RIP.”
Ricardo Arona: “I remember once after a battle of 20 minutes where I got the most important victory of my career, I was alone in Pride’s locker room with the lights off thanking God for the blessing when I saw a shadow coming in. At that time, it was all about fighting, even out of the ring. I thought the worst, and even though I was very tired, I prepared my mind for another war. When I stood up and turned around, it was Kevin Randleman. He gave me a long hug and said, ‘Congratulations, warrior. You’re the best. We’ll smash everybody in that division.’ I got really moved and never forgot his attitude. We were once potential opponents in that division, but in that moment, he turned into a great ally and friend. He taught me a lesson I’ll never forget: ‘Respect and admiration has the power to overcome rivalries. Recognize those who deserve it, even if they’re from other teams.’ Rest in peace, my friend. Pride forever! Oss.”
Wanderlei Silva: “MMA world got sad today after the death of Kevin Randleman. Such a true warrior of the sport. RIP, Kevin.”
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: “A lot of respect for ‘The Monster’ Kevin Randleman for what he did for the sport . Rest in peace, warrior!”
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