UFC 207 will mark the end of Leister Bowling's MMA coaching career.
Following a decade-long run, Bowling, the head coach of Elevation Fight Team in Colorado, informed the team last week that he will be stepping down following Friday's event, after he corners T.J. Dillashaw, Neil Magny and Brandon Thatch in their respective bouts.
Bowling provided the following exclusive statement about his decision to MMAFighting.com:
"I am not one to ever leave anything unfinished, which makes this very hard for me because I feel like Elevation Fight Team still has so much to accomplish. That being said, it is time for me to take some time away from the sport I have grown to love so much. I have five-year-old and 10-year-old sons and a wife at home that I feel need me around more. I know our team is in good hands with the amazing coaching staff we have amassed. I will continue to help coach and be involved in MMA in one way or another for the rest of my life, but for the immediate time being, I am taking a step back from coaching/running the team, traveling and cornering fighters. I need my kids to know that coaching them and being at home with my family more is more important than coaching anyone else.
"It's been over 10 years now that I've been coaching Wrestling/MMA. In those 10 years, I feel very fortunate to have crossed paths with so many great people. Over three years ago, Christian Allen, Eliot Marshall, Loren Landow, Nate Marquardt and myself started Elevation Fight Team. There have been many changes and obstacles that have taken place over those three years, but I feel like our team is in a great place right now, better than any of us ever imagined. We have an amazing group of fighters and future world champions. We have a major corporation in MusclePharm that supports us in every way imaginable. We have a team full of killers, we have a great coaching staff, and we have an unbelievable following. I know the team will do fine without me. With all the success that I see in the near future this decision is even more difficult because I know I will miss out on some of the most glorious moments our team will ever experience, but nothing is more important to me than my family, and I will never get these years back with them. I know that this is a decision I will likely have some regrets for making over time, but the regrets that I could have for missing time with my family outweigh that 10 times over.
"I need to thank my wife MacKenzie for supporting me on this journey. This is something I am very passionate about and she supported me in pursuing it every step of the way. Being home with our two boys as often as I traveled wasn’t easy, and I hope you know how much I appreciate everything you do. I have crossed paths with so many great people that it is impossible to thank them all, but there are a few people that had huge roles in my career as a coach and I wanted to mention their names. Alvin Robinson was the first fighter I cornered in the UFC, which was a huge moment for me and it helped me realize my passion for coaching MMA. Shane Carwin was a pivotal part of my career and I must thank you for introducing me to Nate Marquardt, which is really when my coaching career took off. Thank you to Nate Marquardt for opening so many doors for me and introducing me to so many people in MMA, none of this would have happened without you. Trevor Wittman and Amal Easton for giving me a key to their gyms to run practices at. Those years were some of the best. Sven Bean for setting up a meeting with MusclePharm and pitching the idea of us training there with no strings attached, also for all of the support and help he has given me over the years. Ryan Drexler for believing in our team and getting behind us and taking a chance with Elevation Fight Team. All of the fighters I have had the honor to coach over the last 10 years, thank you for trusting me with such an important role in your careers."
Bowling, who also owns a retail flooring and countertop company in Colorado, added he will now turn his attention to coaching his sons in wrestling. He expects Marshall, Allen, Landow and the rest of the coaching to take over in his absence.
A former high school and collegiate wrestling standout, Bowling made his first UFC coaching appearance at UFC 73 in 2007 when he cornered Robinson against Kenny Florian.
"I never expected it to turn into what turned into," he said. "I'm sure I'm going to regret this decision, but I'm sure I'm going to regret missing time with my family more. These fighters deserve someone who's all in.
"And my family needs me more than these guys right now."