Former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman dies aged 44

Randleman became ill while travelling on business and “un-exectedly passed due to complications from pneumonia”.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman dies aged 44

Jeff Roberson / AP/Press Association Images

Hailed as a pioneer of the mixed martial arts, former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman has died aged 44.

His family announced the tragic news on his Facebook page this afternoon in a statement: 

"With saddened hearts, the Randleman family confirms the passing of Kevin “The Monster” Randleman. Behind the name, was a gentle soul & loyal friend whom will be missed by many who loved him beyond the cage. The Ohio State University, UFC, MMA, & Sandusky, Ohio communities share in the loss of Kevin’s passing.

"While traveling on business, Kevin became ill & unexectedly passed due to complications from pneumonia. Kevin leaves behind a wife & four extraordinary children to share his legacy with the world who mourns his passing. Life without “The Monster” will never be the same.

"The family requests respect & privacy during this difficult time. Kevin’s family is grateful for the outpour of Love & support."

Randleman was an NCAA Division One All-American wrestler and two-time national champion.

He then turned to mixed martial arts, enjoying a career consisting of 33 professional fights, the first of which was in October 1996.

Randleman defeated Pete Williams to win the UFC heavyweight title in 1999 and defended the belt against Pedro Rizzo, before being beaten by Randy Couture.

The world of mixed martial arts remembered his passing today: