Before he was among the early stars of MMA, Kevin Randleman was an All-American wrestler at Ohio State.

Before that, he was an Ohio state champion wrestler at Sandusky High School near the shore of Lake Erie.

His sudden and shocking death hit the Buckeye athletics community hard on Thursday night and Friday morning.

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A sad day for not only the wrestling and fighting community, also for buckeye fans everywhere #RIP Kevin Randleman. pic.twitter.com/7TnoJrbpIe

— Lee Wilson II (@Leewilson32) February 12, 2016

I will miss my fellow #Buckeye & friend. Miss our late night talks. Miss everything about him. ❤️u bro #RIPMonster 💔 pic.twitter.com/4JLSZrUNGT

— Matt Finkes (@MattFinkes) February 12, 2016

1 of the fiercest competitors ever, w a heart & spirit others always admired. Proud to call him a friend #RIPMonster pic.twitter.com/MgXilOqxs5

— Matt Finkes (@MattFinkes) February 12, 2016

Everyone will remember Kevin the wrestler & @ufc fighter. This is the Kevin I will remember. Miss you #RIPMonster pic.twitter.com/lsSQ8J5Gnv

— Matt Finkes (@MattFinkes) February 12, 2016

RIP Kevin Randleman....Buckeye legend and friend

— J Jaggers (@jjaggers2x) February 12, 2016

Just hearing the Kevin Randleman news. So sad. #MMA #Pioneer

— Arch Madness (@arch_madness) February 12, 2016

Fittingly, the news of Kevin Randelman's death is like a punch to the face. He was an absolute pleasure to talk with.

— Mark Hazelwood (@SRHazelwood) February 12, 2016

At one point, Randleman had four of the 10 fastest pins in @wrestlingbucks history...including an 8-second fall.

— VestDJ (@_VestDJ_) February 12, 2016

Randleman also won an NCAA championship with a BROKEN FREAKING JAW

— VestDJ (@_VestDJ_) February 12, 2016

MMA legend and Ohio State Buckeye Kevin Randleman passed away. Condolences to Elizabeth and their kids, RIP my friend.

— Scott Ozebek (@ozebek) February 12, 2016

Still in shock. RIP Kevin Randleman, Buckeye legend and MMA Immortal. You will be missed

— iLikeBrandonDaily (@bellis124) February 12, 2016

RIP Kevin Randleman -- A 2-Time National Champion, UFC Champion and forever a Buckeye #Unbreakable

— The BBC (@The_BBC) February 12, 2016

Just heard this news. My thoughts and prayers to his family he left behind. Very sad. https://t.co/pHv8J5qmjF

— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) February 12, 2016

Wrestling at 177 pounds, Randleman was Ohio State's first two-time national champion in the early 1990s.

Last year he told his hometown newspaper, the Sandusky Register, about what his time in Columbus meant to him.

"When I think of Ohio State, I think of the greatest university in the world," Randleman said. "I met and am friends with some of the greatest people I've ever known while I was there. And we weren't too bad of a team when I was there, either.
"Russ Hellickson came to recruit me and said he wanted to build a championship team around me," he added. "We didn't become one, but we were very close. Iowa at that time in particular was just so strong … it was just an honor. A black kid from Sandusky, Ohio, you just don't think you will get the opportunity to represent the school that in Ohio, is the only thing that walks."

His success at Ohio State helped launch his career in MMA, where he joined fellow former Buckeye national champion and hall of famer Mark Coleman as a UFC heavyweight champion.

Randleman was inducted into the Ohio State athletics hall of fame in 2004.