After a stretch of just two wins in nine bouts from 2003 to 2006, Kevin Randleman (17-12) appeared to be at the end of his career.
But Randleman said he's ready for a revitalization.
"I just finally got me an overhaul of this freaking Corvette," Randleman said. "And I'm ready to run this thing until my career is over."
A former collegiate wrestling standout, Randleman made his MMA debut in 1996. Randleman has fought all over the world in his 12-year career, and holds notable wins over Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Murilo "Ninja" Rua, Renato "Babalu" Sobral, Pedro Rizzo, Pete Williams and Maurice Smith among others. Randleman held the UFC heavyweight title from 1999 to 2000.
Now 37 years old, time has taken it's toll on Randleman's muscular frame.
"The last three-and-a-half years has been every time that I get healthy enough to start training hard, I train too hard," Randleman said. "And the part of my body that was getting atrophied would snap or pop. I'm a 37-year-old man now. The college wrestling and everything has taken its toll."
Randleman went a span of 17 months without a fight after a 2006 loss to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at PRIDE 32. He returned to action in May with a unanimous decision win over Ryo Kawamura at World Victory Road's "Sengoku: Second Battle."
While the victory was nice, the bout again took its toll on Randleman's ailing body.
"The Ryo Kawamura fight, I tore my labrum and my rotator cuff like a month before that fight," Randleman said. "There's no excuses. If I would have lost the fight, I would have lost the fight because I lost to a better man. I never make any excuse when I get my ass kicked. And I'm not going to accept anyone making excuses when I whip their ass.
"But the Kawamura fight, I tore my labrum. The first left hook that I hit him with in the fight ripped my shoulder completely. So the rest of the fight, I only had the use of my right shoulder, my right arm. So I was really happy with the outcome of the fight. Of course I wasn't happy of how the fight went, because the whole time I just wanted to make it out of that fight and not tear my shoulder more."
Randleman said the bout helped him learn more about himself as a fighter. And now that the injury is fully healed, Randleman can't wait to return to action.
"Sometimes when you put yourself in that situation -- man, I learned so much [expletive] about myself," Randleman said. "I'm good. I don't even use half the weapons I have. I felt good about the fight, and I'm just excited to get back into this.
"Over the last few months since that fight I've been healing. I had my shoulder redone. So I've been kind of just plugging away, doing what I can until I can get back in the ring and start training again for a fight."
In addition to healing his battered frame, Randleman has also chosen to branch out from his Hammer House roots.
"I've relocated to Las Vegas," Randleman said. "I changed up my training and my training partners and stuff because I was getting stagnant. (Mark) Coleman comes out here and trains, and I go back and train, but pretty much now it's like -- we haven't split, because we're always going to be friends and he's always going to help me manage my career -- it's just hard to train with someone when you're so far away from them."
Randleman said the difficulties he's faced in recent times have prepared him for a renaissance.
"I've never really taken some time to slow down and look at what my life is, what my life was, and what my life can be," Randleman said. "I've had three years to sit back on my butt and just watch people do the things that I love and took for granted. So I ain't going to take it for granted. I'm going to be in shape every day."
Considering Randleman has fought just three times in the last three tears, his proposed schedule going forward may surprise you.
"I'm not fighting for (just) one company," Randleman said. "I'm fighting for an American company. I'm fighting for a Japanese company. If that's how my career goes out, that's how my career is going to go out. But I want to fight at least six times a year."
For a man that appeared on the verge of fading away from the MMA landscape, the plan is certainly aggressive. But Randleman said he'll know when the time is right to walk away.
"I'm going to know when my clock says I'm ready."