By FIGHT! contributor Matt Burosh
Kevin Randleman’s pre-fight smack talk, reliance on strength over technique, and natural aggression endeared him to fight fans over the years. But “The Monster” cost himself a lot of fights in the process, and Randleman’s record, 17 wins against 12 losses, does little to illustration the athletic gifts he possesses and the promise his career held after he won the UFC heavyweight crown at UFC 23. Largely inactive since 2005, Randleman recently signed with Strikeforce but left his monstrous alter ego in retirement.
“I’ve talked a lot of shit in the past,” Randleman said during the Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields press conference at St. Louis’ Scottrade Center. “So I’m sorry if that’s what you’re looking or, but I’ll give you a lot of shit to talk about later. I’m going to let my hands do all the talking on June 6,” he said.
The two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion, now 37, spent the last four years battling through kidney stones, a nagging shoulder injury, a torn bicep, infections in his lung, shingles, a staph infection that resulted in a gaping wound, a suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for submitted a fake urine sample to cover up the presence of antibiotics and painkillers, an arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
He said, without exaggeration that he was at death’s door but insists he is ready to fight now. “I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t 100% healthy,” he said. “I didn’t spend the last four years of my life getting healthy to come back and lose a [expletive] fight.”
Randleman, now married, with children, said, “I’ve been trying to get myself very calm in my life and as far as my whole fighting career goes.” To that end, “The Monster” hooked up with the Xtreme Couture and Tapout camps in Las Vegas and has been working hard to develop a game that hadn’t evolved much beyond Team Hammer House’s trademark ground and pound.
Making an allowance for wild behavior at the press conference – at one point Randleman stood up and screamed, “Yeah! Let’s do it,” while his opponent, Mike Whitehead, talked about their fight – this Kevin Randleman appears to be ready to make headlines for the right reasons.
“I’m a little more poised, I’m a little more calmer [sic], I’m not the same crazy ‘Monster,’” he said.
Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields will be televised live on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).