During the main card of UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Harris another inductee to the 2020 class of the UFC Hall of Fame was announced. None other than UFC and Pride legend Kevin ‘The Monster’ Randleman. According to Dana White:
“Kevin Randleman was one of the first real athletes in the early days of UFC. 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.”
Randleman made his UFC debut at UFC 19 on March 5th, 1999 in St. Louis defeating Maurice Smith via unanimous decision in the semifinals of The Road to Heavyweight Title Tournament. Randleman ended up losing a split decision to future UFC Hall of Famer Bas Rutten at UFC 20 in the tournament finals just over a month later.
Randleman eventually went on to capture the UFC Heavyweight Championship at UFC 23 against Pete Williams in Urayasu, Japan. He defended the title one time at UFC 26 against Pedro Rizzo in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on June 9th, 2000.
Randleman will join Bas Rutten (2015 Inductee) in the Pioneer Wing of the Hall of Fame according to the UFC press release:
“The Pioneers Era category includes athletes who turned professional before November 17, 2000 (when the unified rules of mixed martial arts were adopted), are a minimum age of 35, or have been retired for one year or more.”
Randleman lost the heavyweight crown to future Hall Of Famer, Randy Couture by TKO in round 3 at UFC 28. Moving down to light heavyweight for UFC 31 he squared off against yet another Hall of Fame inductee, Chuck ‘Iceman’ Liddell losing via first-round knockout.
Eventually, Randleman became a star in Pride, fighting such legends as ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Sakuraba (Class of 2017), Mirko Cro Cop, Fedor Emelianenko, and ‘Shogun’ Rua. Unfortunately, Kevin Randleman died on February 11th, 2016 from a heart attack after being admitted to the hospital with pneumonia while on a road trip for a job interview.