It’s a sad day for old-school fans of MMA, as former UFC and Pride star Kevin Randleman has passed away at the too-young age of 44. He was one of the pioneers of the early UFC, fighting and losing to Bas Rutten via split-decision for the UFC Heavyweight Championship at UFC 20, then winning the heavyweight title at UFC 23 before losing it to Randy Couture at UFC 28. He would fight for Pride, Strikeforce, Sengoku, and a bevy of other organizations, even saying in recent years that he was preparing for a comeback that would never come to be.
Randleman hadn’t seen the bright lights since the mid-2000’s, but his impressive highlight slams and his shocking knockout of a prime Cro Cop in Pride still resonate with fans today. Who can forget Randleman and his blonde hair slamming Fedor Emelianenko on his head in Pride? Sure, Fedor immediately popped up to sub Randleman, but no one had ever done that to The Last Emperor before. Randleman was so close to changing MMA history forever.