Kevin Randleman dies at age 44

Former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman died Thursday night at age 44.

Randleman, known as "The Monster," died after suffering heart failure caused by complications from pneumonia. Fox Sports reports that he had been admitted to a San Diego hospital after falling ill before having cardiac problems.

"Behind the name was a gentle soul and loyal friend whom will be missed by many who loved him beyond the cage," his family said in a statement on his Facebook page. "... Life without 'The Monster' will never be the same."

UFC president Dana White acknowledged Randleman's death in a tweet Thursday.

Randleman won the UFC heavyweight title in November 1999. He successfully defended the belt once before dropping it in November 2000 to Randy Couture. Randleman, who last fought professionally in 2011, was 17-16 in his career and 4-3 in UFC.

He was also a two-time NCAA wrestling champion at Ohio State, winning national titles at 177 pounds in 1992 and 1993 and finishing runner-up in 1991. The three-time All-American was inducted into the Ohio State hall of fame in 2004.

Randleman is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and four children.