"Men are never convinced of your reasons, of your sincerity, of the seriousness of your sufferings, except by your death. So long as you are alive, your case is doubtful; you have a right only to their skepticism."
― Albert Camus, The Fall
A couple of side points here however before we get started in earnest (doing nothing to tarnish the man in question): the UFC Hall of Fame is not good. It’s a sham, travesty, and a joke. Absolutely foremost it should be the MMA Hall of Fame. It should be removed from the UFC’s greasy fingers and placed under independent control with representatives of different organizations, commissions, media, etc. (Hey, they could do the same thing with rankings too! Imagine that!) Yeah, yeah, I can hear the whining already… As far as who would pay for it, make all MMA orgs pay some small percentage in order to get licensed: UFC, Bellator, PFL, etc. Find a rich guy and put his name on the building. Maybe take (public) donations. Done. There’s an independent, authentic H.O.F, as easy as that. Now, on to Kevin Randleman.
Before news of his H.O.F. induction even reached these ears, the next proper installment of Fight Prose was (and is) going to be Pride 24: Cold Fury III, which has Randleman’s third fight in Pride, against Murilo "Ninja" Rua. Ninja’s an opponent I have developed great respect for as I have watched these early events; Shogun’s big brother was a really good fighter it turns out, and his bout with Randleman has all the makings of a good scrap. So, for this brief Randleman celebratory post, why not go with Randleman’s first two Pride fights, leading us up to next week’s posting of Pride 24? Yeah, sounds good. Let’s do it. (It should be noted before we begin that Randleman was well-established at this point, having had seven fights in the UFC, including time as the Heavyweight Champ.)
Randleman’s first fight in Pride was at Pride 22: Beasts from the East 2 against Michiyoshi Ohara. In the corner he looks hopped up as fuck with Mark Coleman rubbing his massive shoulders and whispering all kinds of destruction in his ear. Commentators Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten think this will be a quick finish – "hot knife through butter" is the phrase – but unfortunately I predict they are wrong. In truth, Randleman could have finished the fight in the first 30 seconds with punches, but he just throws in wild bursts and repeatedly clinches up with Ohara, who is not even trying to strike. Ohara gets a yellow card for rolling out of the ring to escape Randleman’s ground and pound. Honestly, they should have just stopped the fight at that point. Standing, Ohara’s a heavy bag with arms. My god, it sounds like the crowd is jeering after the first round. In Japan, that’s like seeing a unicorn. Ohara runs out to begin round 2 and gets slammed, pounded, and finally smothered on the ground. Mark shouts from the corner, "Come on, he’s dead!" And it certainly appears he should be, but Randleman is unable to find a finish. Round 3 is not even worth describing. At the end are more jeers, which is really wild from a cultural standpoint, but clear evidence of Ohara’s lack of anything but lasting twenty minutes, which I suppose is something after all. Randleman does not look very happy and quickly leaves the ring without collecting his trophy.
Next up Randleman takes on Kenichi Yamamoto at Pride 23: Championship Chaos 2. I see how these names can come to be a problem… Randleman gets the quick takedown and spins Yamamoto around like a pinwheel before going for the sub. Randleman is way bigger than Yamamoto and could just pound the shit out of him, but perhaps after last time he thinks this is the better way to get the finish; nonetheless some knees and elbows from his position would seemingly do just as well or better. "Beat his brains out!" (I think) comes from the corner. Yamamoto’s got heart, that much is clear. But like Ohara, he’s just got nothing to offer Randleman. Randleman persists in going for the Americana (keylock) but is unable to find joy after ten minutes of control. Early in the next[*] round Randleman rains down some huge knees for the finish which it seems he could have easily done in the first. He is victorious. Next up in my video queue appears Ron Waterman vs. Kevin Randleman, which just looks like a gnarly steroid-fueled gassed nightmare of awesome, but we must have some patience and will save that for another time.
To conclude, Randleman’s first two fights in Pride aren’t great to be honest, but he does address the problem of the first in the second: the inability to finish. Neither guy should be able to beat Randleman, but both manage to hang around longer than they should, particularly Ohara. In his next fight at Pride 24, he will have a much more evenly matched opponent in Ninja Rua, and it will be a far better judge of Randleman as a fighter at this stage in his career. That full event will be appearing on Fight Prose next week, so follow or subscribe or what have you. Peace. Thanks. Ja Mata!
[*] Wikipedia has the finish coming in the third, while the youtube video it seems like it’s the second, but maybe the video just skips the second round. My high school French is not up to the task. If it does have a missing second round, a definitely less impressive performance from Randleman.