Kevin Randleman passed away last week at the age of 44 of complications from pneumonia. It’s always sad when someone passes away at a young age, and Randleman was somebody who made a big impression on me as a fight fan. I’d like to share some of my most vivid memories from his career.
April 25, 2004 – PRIDE Total Elimination 2004
Randleman was scheduled to fight Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic at this event in the first round of the PRIDE 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix. Cro Cop was heavily favored, was considered a favorite to win the whole thing. However, Randleman caught Cro Cop with a powerful left hand that dropped him, and then caveman clubbed him into unconsciousness. I was, and remain, a huge Cro Cop fan, and this left me in stunned silence. I couldn’t believe it. As quick as you could snap your fingers, The Monster had knocked out Cro Cop. You weren’t supposed to be able to do that.
June 20, 2004 – PRIDE Critical Countdown 2004
This was the second round of the PRIDE 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix. This time the opponent was Fedor Emelianenko. Randleman again found himself as a big underdog. There would be no magical win here, but there was a moment so unbelievable that it would forever be etched into the brains of all who saw it. Shortly into the fight, Randleman picked Fedor up and literally suplexed him onto his head. Onto his head! I still don’t know how Fedor didn’t break his neck. It’s been said that he allowed his body to go limp and that helped, but to be so in control of your own body in that quick moment is something that doesn’t seem possible.
I know that’s more of a Fedor moment, but I’ll never forget that. Almost immediately, Fedor countered and then submitted Randleman. What was also crazy about that moment was the power that Randleman showed. To pick up a man the size of Fedor and fling him around like a small child is just nuts. I know the fact that Fedor let his body go limp helps with that, but it’s still damn impressive.
Incredible power and athleticism
Randleman tested positive for PEDs and allegations always swirled around him, but he was always a tremendous physical specimen. PEDs and things like that aren’t magic potions, they don’t turn you into something that you’re not, they only magnify what’s already there. Randleman was one of the best athletes ever to step foot into the cage. I remember watching him pick up and slam Ron Waterman at PRIDE Final Countdown 2004. Randleman got submitted, but he slammed Waterman, who weighed around 280 pounds. That is freakish power. Which leads me to…
Randleman finished his career on a 3-10 streak that dragged his record down to 17-16. What sucks about that is that he could have been so much more. He was fighting guys without ever having been taught the most basic moves, especially defense. Yet he still managed to beat a fair amount of his opponents despite being a complete novice in key areas. Athleticism and his wrestling carried the day, and it served him somewhat well. Imagine if he were 25 today and was able to train with guys who could teach him all these techniques that he could use to defeat the men who beat him. In another time, Randleman could have been the greatest heavyweight of all time. I don’t say that lightly because I’m a huge Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum fan, guys who I consider to be the #1 and #2 heavyweights of all time. Randleman could have been better than both of them. I don’t know if he would have been, but damn I would have loved to see him try.
The raw power and athleticism that Randleman had is something that you can’t train for. He would have been a force the likes most fighters would never have seen or imagined to be possible. The untapped potential there is almost mind-boggling. To think what he was able to accomplish while possessing only the most rudimentary of skills in key areas of MMA blows your mind.
I bring this up only because it looks so unbelievable. Many of you probably already know this, but Randleman had a battle with a staph infection that looked like movie makeup. He’s far from the only one to ever have this issue, but it didn’t look real at the time. You could see inside his torso. Staph is a nasty, nasty thing, and if you’re curious, do an image search for Randleman staph, but be warned that you can’t have a weak stomach. These images will be forever burned into your brain. Don’t seek them out if you don’t want to see something gross and crazy.
Kevin Randleman is gone at only 44 years old, but he left a lasting legacy. He earned the nickname “The Monster” and will forever be remembered for some of the great moments he was involved in. This is only a small portion of his career. There are many other unforgettable moments I left out. He was a true legend and will be missed.
Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at email@example.com and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank