By Adam Martin
The MMA world experienced a tough 2016, as many incredible fighters passed away. This piece is meant to remember the fighters we lost.
One of the all-time most popular fighters in MMA history, Kevin Ferguson, better known as Kimbo Slice, was a larger-than-life figure. He became an overnight sensation after his street fights in Miami started appearing on YouTube in the mid-2000s, before signing with Elite XC and becoming a ratings superstar. Slice eventually made it to the UFC after a stint on The Ultimate Fighter, and later reappeared in boxing and then Bellator. On June 6, Slice was admitted to a hospital in Coral Springs, Florida, later passing away from heart failure. He had a 5-2, 1 NC record in MMA and a 7-0 record in boxing. Slice was 42 when he died.
Randleman was the former UFC Heavyweight Champion and a big star in the early days of the UFC and PRIDE. He was known for explosive slams and his KO of Mirko Cro Cop at PRIDE Total Elimination 2004 remains one of the sport's all-time greatest knockouts. On February 11, Randleman suffered a fatal heart attack after being admitted to a San Diego hospital due to pneumonia, ultimately passing away at age 44. Randleman finished his MMA career with a 17-16 record.
Jimmo was Canada's top light heavyweight fighter. He was a former champion in the Maximum Fighting Championship before signing with the UFC, where he went 3-4 overall, including a memorable seven-second KO of Anthony Perosh at UFC 149, which tied a UFC record. On June 16, Jimmo was the victim of a fatal hit-and-run in Edmonton, where he trained. He later succumbed to his injuries, passing away at age 34. His final MMA record was 19-5.
Suloev was a UFC and PRIDE veteran. Accused of being a contract killer, Suloev spent three years in jail before being diagnosed and dying of stomach cancer at age 40 in his native Russia. He went 24-7 overall in MMA.
Avena was a former Bellator and WEC veteran who finished his career with an 8-7 record. On May 4, his body was discovered in a Las Vegas apartment, and friends of Avena later said suicide was the cause of death. Avena was 32 when he died.
2016 was a terrible year for MMA deaths. Let's hope 2017 doesn't end up this way.