Las Vegas – UFC® today announced that former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman has been named to the UFC Hall of Fame class for 2020 as a Pioneer. The 2020 UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Toyo Tires®, will take place later this year and will be streamed live on UFC FIGHT PASS®.
“Kevin Randleman was one of the first real athletes in the early days of UFC,” UFC President Dana White said. “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 will enter the UFC Hall of Fame as the 17th member of the Pioneer Era wing. 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.
A veteran of 33 professional fights during his 15-year career, Randleman compiled a record of 17-16 (4-3, UFC), including wins over UFC Hall of Famer Maurice Smith, UFC®23: ULTIMATE JAPAN 2 middleweight tournament champion Kenichi Yamamoto and 2006 PRIDE FC world open-weight grand prix champion Mirko Cro Cop.
Randleman made his UFC debut on March 5, 1999 at UFC® 19: ULTIMATE YOUNG GUNS in Bay St. Louis, Missouri, defeating Maurice Smith via unanimous decision. His victory earned him an immediate title shot for the vacant UFC heavyweight title against future UFC Hall of Famer and three-time King of Pancrase champion Bas Rutten in the main event of UFC® 20: BATTLE FOR THE GOLD. Kevin entered the bout with a 7-2 record against the veteran Rutten, who stepped inside the Octagon® with a 26-4-1 record, having won 19 of his previous 20 fights (1 Draw).
UFC® 20: BATTLE FOR THE GOLD 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.