When it was announced last year that former heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman was going to be a member of the UFC Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020, an honor that unfortunately is being bestowed posthumously on the late Ohio native, no one was happier and prouder than another former heavyweight champion, Mark Coleman.
“It’s been incredibly emotional for me,” said Coleman. “I loved this guy more than I knew. I didn’t realize how much I loved him, I didn’t realize how close we were and when it (Randleman’s death) happened, it was devastating. It was crushing, and I pushed to try to get him in the UFC Hall of Fame because I knew he deserved to be there. This man fought anybody, anytime, while he was injured, it didn’t matter. He fought anybody and everybody. I’m so proud of him and so grateful that the UFC put him in there because he is so deserving. He was a highlight reel everywhere he walked and went, and I miss him all the time. I know Kevin wants me to be strong, but sometimes I do get emotional and I do break down because I love that guy this much.”
Those in the fight game knew that outside of Randleman’s family, which included his wife Elizabeth and four children, no one was going to be hit harder than Coleman by his friend’s untimely death at 44 due to complications from pneumonia. And while many thought the duo, whose friendship began back at Ohio State, were the most unlikely of buddies, Coleman says nothing was further from the truth.
“We were very much the same,” he said. “We both wanted to kick ass and we both wanted to be world champions. It was that simple. I like to have fun, he liked to have fun. So the odd couple was very, very far from the real description.”
They weren’t instant buddies, though. When the future hall of famers first met, Coleman had just won a National championship for Ohio State and while he served as an assistant coach, he had his sights set on the 1992 Olympics. Randleman was a dominant athlete from nearby Sandusky, Ohio and he committed to OSU without even visiting the campus.
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