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2011 Highlights: In the aftermath of Tattgate, Ohio State found themselves without a QB and without a coach.
2012 Highlights: In Urban Meyer's Ohio homecoming the Buckeye's shook off some early rust to finish the season 12-0. 2013 Outlook: Sanctionless, the only thing standing between Ohio State and a National Championship is a soft schedule and the University of Alabama. Players To Watch if they are not suspended: QB Braxton Miller, WR Devin Smith, RB Carlos Hyde and CB Bradley Roby. Kevin "The Monster" Randleman, who passed away on Thursday from heart failure while on a business trip in San Diego, may have been the best all-around athlete ever to compete in the organization.
Randleman, who was 44, was voted the greatest wrestler of the 20th century in the history of Ohio State University, where he was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004. He was a three-sport star at Sandusky High School in Ohio, where he went to the state finals in track, was state champion in wrestling, and started four years in football. But it’s not the on-paper credentials that made him a freak athlete, as much as watching him. While he was an early UFC heavyweight champion, his two most memorable fights were undoubtedly in Pride.
In the former, on April 25, 2004, at a sold-out Saitama Super Arena, Randleman, a heavy underdog feinted for a takedown. Cro Cop was the most popular foreign fighter in Pride at the time, and the tournament was put together to build to a Cro Cop vs. A stunned Ranallo screamed, like an announcer calling the winning shot at the buzzer in the seventh game of the NBA finals, saying  "Kevin Randleman has knocked out Mirko Cro Cop! Ranallo, who has called some of the biggest boxing matches, MMA fights and pro wrestling matches in recent years, noted that as what he may be most remembered for.
Immediately after knocking Cro Cop out, as a confused Cro Cop recovered, Randleman went over to console him and kissed him on the side of the face. With the health issues he suffered over the next few years, he in fact, did go to Hell and back, and continued to fight. Randleman, who has lived in Las Vegas for years, had complained of shortness of breath and flu-like symptoms, and then collapsed on Thursday. After the Cro Cop win, Randleman’s next fight, eight weeks later, at the same Saitama Super Arena, was against Emelianenko in the loaded tournament. And that really told the story of Randleman’s MMA career, which ended in 2011 with a 17-16 record. He had a serious lung infection in 2005, and followed with kidney problems and a terrible staph infection over the next few years. Bas Rutten fought Randleman in what was probably Randleman’s third-most famous fight, a UFC title bout in 1999, and later became best friends with him.
Randleman was a personable guy, who even though all his health issues always seemed upbeat and jovial. After winning the Ohio high school wrestling championship in 1989, finishing his high school career with a 122-11 record, Randleman went to Ohio State University. Randleman posted a 111-7-3 record as a Buckeye, a record that included scoring four of the ten fastest pins in school history.


In 1991, as a freshman, competing at 167 pounds, he went 42-6, won the Big 10 title, and placed second in the NCAA tournament. He was plagued by injuries as a junior, suffering both a broken jaw and a torn knee ligament that he competed with. In his second match in the 1993 NCAA tournament, against Mark Frushone of Central Connecticut, he suffered a dislocated jaw.
Mark Coleman, who was a member of the 1992 Olympic team, was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State, while Randleman was there. Coleman called Randleman in the ring and the two did a wrestling exhibition for the live audience in lieu of the tournament championship fight, throwing each other all over the place. Word quickly spread that the guy with the bleached blond hair who was even more muscular than Coleman and was one of the nation’s most dominant college wrestlers a few years earlier. Once Coleman signed with Pride, UFC brought in Randleman in 1999 as part of a four-man tournament to crown the heavyweight champion after Randy Couture had left over a contract issue. The idea that Randleman would outwrestle Smith and take a decision wouldn’t have been a surprise.
This put him in the tournament finals on May 7, 1999, in Birmingham, Ala., against Rutten, in a fight heavily debated to this day. Randleman took Rutten down and destroyed him on the ground for the first five minutes of the fight, breaking Rutten’s nose and cutting him up badly. The Dutch fighter retired after that fight due to an assortment of injuries, although he did fight once more many years later. He moved to Pride in Japan that year, where he was a regular until the promotion closed, and later fought for Strikeforce.
While fighting for Pride, he also dabbled in pro wrestling, a venture that if he had the right breaks in, he had potential to be a major star in. He did pro wrestling in Japan throughout the Pride years, often in a tag team with Coleman, or another former NCAA champion wrestler, Sylvester "The Predator" Terkay. Under sanctions, OSU was unable to play in the B1G Championship or a bowl, although many assume the Buckeyes would have been a candidate for the National Championship game had they been eligible.
The young Randleman had a ridiculous physique, competing at 5-foot-10 and 228 pounds when he was UFC heavyweight champion. What led to this leaving such an indelible mark, was Randleman’s reactions and the English call of the match by commentator Mauro Ranallo. The other was former middleweight champion Evan Tanner, more than seven years ago, who passed away from heat exposure while in the desert. Randleman picked the Pride champion up and delivered a twisting back suplex, dropping him almost on his head. The record is misleading as Randleman was a major force in the sport through the end of 2002, but went 3-11 over the next nine years. The sport evolved, Randleman often fell victim to submissions in fights he was winning, and his career was derailed even more due to an assortment of health issues. You could make a strong case he was the greatest wrestler ever to attend the college until Logan Steiber and Kyle Snyder came to Columbus in recent years. In an amazing case of grit and determination, he popped the jaw back in place and continued the match.


Coleman failed to make the 1996 team at 220 pounds, in the spot won by Kurt Angle, who ended up winning a gold medal. Smith was a former world champion in kickboxing, who had upset Coleman in 1997 to become UFC heavyweight champion, before dropping it to Couture. Randleman kept him down the majority of the rest of the fight, but didn’t do any significant damage over the last 16 minutes.
But the two became great friends after spending time together the day after the fight, where they compared all their various cuts and stitches. Randleman had tremendous potential for pro wrestling, considering his physique, look, athletic ability and he had a natural charisma and talked well.
With his leaping ability, he could do amazing things in the ring when it came to leap frogs and a variety of flying moves off the top rope to go along with suplexes. They were a win over Mirko Cro Cop and a loss to Fedor Emelianenko in that year’s Pride heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. The medical staff performed advanced cardiac life support measures Randleman didn’t recover, and was pronounced dead due to heart failure. Despite the move looking like it could have broken Emelianenko’s neck, he was actually unharmed.
Randleman failed a drug test after a 2006 fight with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, where his test submitted to the Nevada State Athletic Commission contained no hormones. With the injury, he won four more matches and became the first two-time national champion in Ohio State wrestling history. Coleman won his first two fights in an eight-man tournament and due to injuries, there was nobody left to face him in the finals. But a lot of the fight was standing, and even with limited technique, Randleman was able to stand with Smith without getting hurt.
But Randleman did far more damage in the early minutes than Rutten did the remainder of the fight. In 2007, with the Hustle promotion, he played a masked super hero called Randle Man, while Coleman wore a mask as Cole Man.
But he came at a time when American promotions were not actively recruiting top athletes like they are today, and he never wrestled in the U.S. Before his fights, he’d wow the audience jumping high into the air while warming up, with his massive thighs looking like somebody inserted springs in them.
It created the story of the "Randle-plex," which became part of the myth of Emelianenko from taking the move and then recovering and submitting his foe in seconds. Two of the three judges, who evidently broke the fight up into rounds like they were doing boxing, voted for Rutten.



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