The late Kevin Randleman (17-16) will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame later this year, the promotion announced during the broadcast for UFC on ESPN 8 earlier tonight (Sat., May 16, 2020) live on ESPN/ESPN+ from inside VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
Randleman will enter the UFC Hall of Fame as the 17th member of the Pioneer Era wing.
Randleman, who tragically passed away in 2016 at the age of 44 due to pneumonia complications, made his UFC debut all the way back in 1999. The two-time NCAA Division I Wrestling national champion was one of the most physically gifted fighters to ever enter the Octagon. Randleman would test his skills against the likes of Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and Bas Rutten, while winning a UFC heavyweight championship over Pete Williams at UFC 23 in 1999.
“Kevin Randleman was one of the first real athletes in the early days of UFC,” said UFC president Dana White in an official press release. “He was a two-time NCAA Division I National Champion and All-American wrestler at The Ohio State University. He was the fifth heavyweight champion in UFC history and one of the first athletes to successfully compete at both heavyweight and light heavyweight. He was a pioneer of the sport and it’s an honor to induct him into the UFC Hall of Fame Class of 2020.”
After UFC, Randleman really pushed his career to the next level by matching up with some of the best fighters PRIDE had to offer. From his incredible knockout win over the unflappable Mirko Cro Cop to his legendary slam on Fedor Emelianenko, Randleman delivered some of the most memorable moments in PRIDE history.
Some of MMA’s more hardcore fans may even remember Randleman’s infamous staph infection from 2007 (seen HERE if you can stomach it).
Here are some final thoughts from the official UFC press release about Randleman’s legendary clash with Rutten back at UFC 20:
UFC 20 took place on May 7, 1999 in Birmingham, Alabama. As the fight began, Randleman immediately secured his first takedown. Kevin maintained top control while landing a barrage of punches that broke Rutten’s nose within the first five minutes, momentarily stopping the action for doctors to evaluate his condition. After Bas was deemed able to continue, Randleman immediately took Rutten back to the canvas, trading punches for 10 minutes, until referee John McCarthy halted action so doctors could address the heavy bleeding from Rutten’s nose.
Rutten would spend the majority this event fighting and throwing punches from his back, which resulted in Bas landing numerous strikes to Randleman’s head. At the end of regulation, with no winner declared, both athletes advanced to fight for three additional three-minute overtime rounds. Randleman seemed to control two of three rounds, but following 21 minutes of action, Rutten was declared the winner via split decision. This split decision loss is still considered one of the most controversial decisions in UFC history.
Rutten would later vacate the title, giving Randleman a chance to compete for the vacant UFC heavyweight title against Pete Williams at UFC 23.
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