Kevin Randleman – a.k.a. “The Monster” – was a UFC champ back when there hadn’t been that many of them yet. He was also an explosive wrestler who could knockout Mirko Crocop in PRIDE FC when no one else could, and could throw Fedor Emelianenko on his head with such force to this day people wonder how the Russian is still alive. And in February, Randleman died, 44 years old, the victim of a heart attack.

Master scribe Shaun Al-Shatti of MMAFighting has penned a longform piece on the fallen legend. It is, of course, a must-read. Here’s a sample, but definitely check out the rest:

Elizabeth remembers how it used to take hours for Kevin and her to navigate the casino floor after a big event, the two of them slowly wading through a sea of awestruck faces, Kevin in full Monster Mode, posing, laughing, holding court with anyone who asked. He felt he owed it to the fans who made this whole ride possible. Then one night at the Mandalay Bay Kevin watched UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia charge a young teenager for an autograph. “Kevin wrote that motherfucker off right there,” Elizabeth says, putting on her best Monster voice.

“‘If that motherfucker fell at my feet, I would step over him and spit on him. You charge a fucking fan for an autograph? Who the fuck are you?’ Shit like that tore Kevin up. He was so loyal to his fans, and I think a lot of it was because he watched it how it grew from cockfighting to being in America’s living room on Spike TV. The only reason that happened was because of the fans. The fans never gave up on it when it was low-budget, and he always felt like he wouldn’t have been who he was without the fans. They always came first to him.”