by Mick Hammond
The medical term Dissasociative Identity Disorder is defined as having “two or more distinct identities or personality states.” If you were to apply that definition to MMA, you would most likely find Kevin “The Monster” Randleman as a fighter most associated with DID simply because at times he looks every bit a former champion and at other times looks decidedly not.
Almost every time he steps into the ring, fans and media alike wonder “which Kevin will show up tonight?” Yes, it’s been that kind of rollercoaster ride for Randleman over the past few years. Starting with his entry into Pride it’s been the most extremes of ups and downs and two completely different Kevins that could be fighting on any given night.
After winning his first three fights in very decisive fashion, it was beginning to appear as if Kevin could become a serious contender for the Pride Middleweight Championship. Against Michiyoshi Ohara, Kenichi Yamamoto, and Murilo “Ninja” Rua, Randleman showed a lot of aggressiveness and a great aptitude towards Pride’s four point attack rules. His natural athleticism was none more apparent than it was in these three fights.
Even during his loss to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, the aggressive Randleman shown through as he went right after Jackson without blinking an eye. Then things changed almost inexplicably in his next fight against Japanese superstar Kazushi Sakuraba at Pride Final Conflict 2003.
Randleman looked lethargic, uninspired and pretty much the exact opposite of his previous self. Gone was the aggressive Kevin that pressed things and out hustled and out wrestled his opponent. Against a much smaller and physically weaker Sakuraba, Randleman mounted nearly no offense and was eventually caught in an arm bar and submitted in the third of three very unwatchable rounds.
Again without explanation, Kevin switched back to his old aggressive self against Mirko Cro Cop in the first round of Pride’s 2004 Heavyweight GP. He appeared very crisp on his feet and immediately pressed Cro Cop and established physical dominance. Then after a feint, something he did not use against Sakuraba, Randleman landed the punch of the year, laying out Cro Cop and advancing to the second round of the tournament.
The aggressive Randleman was again on display against Fedor Emelianenko in his next fight. In a similarly styled fashion as he faced Jackson, Kevin was aggressive against the larger Fedor and managed to even overpower the Russian Goliath at times. Even though he eventually lost the fight, Randleman looked strong, but it would be the last such performance he’s had.
Over his last three fights, losses to Ron Waterman, Cro Cop, and Kazuhiro Nakamura, the Randleman that fought Sakuraba has seemingly returned. In each outing he’s gotten less and less successful at applying a gameplan and using his skills to his advantage.
While it could be said against Waterman that Kevin was severely undersized, still, he failed to use his speed advantage and could not work his way out of trouble on the ground. Against Cro Cop it was an inability to escape a fairly rudimentary standing guillotine that cost him the fight. He seemed almost unwilling to take any chances to free himself.
Lastly, in his match with Nakamura, Randleman looked nearly comatose when the fight went to the ground. He was unwilling to do anything when he was on top against Nakamura and didn’t look like the same fighter that had pounced on Mirko for the kill in their first fight. Despite using some good escapes from submissions, the fire that once drove Randleman to victory appeared very diminished.
And now as Kevin prepares to fight Fatih Kocamis at Bushido Europe, the question remains, which Randleman will show up? Will the explosive, aggressive, dominant wrestler who looks to take out his opponents face Fatih, or will the passive and uninspired Kevin show up just to collect a paycheck in Holland?
It’s anyone’s guess at this point, but what is for sure is that if Randleman shows up with bad intentions on his mind, he is one of the most unstoppable forces in the business. If he shows up unable to assert himself, it could be a long, drawn-out affair that will benefit none and considerably hurt Randleman as he looks to try to put a positive ending to a rather un-Monster-like year.