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Morning Report: Miesha Tate mourns late coach Robert Follis, says he was 'instrumental' in her winning UFC title

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On Sunday afternoon, news broke that longtime MMA coach Robert Follis died over the weekend at the age of 48. It was shocking news, and as the MMA world has mourned his passing, some of his most notable students have spoken out in remembrance of the legendary coach.

Among them is perhaps Follis’ most successful protege, former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, who spoke with The Luke Thomas Show on Monday, discussing what made Follis such a well-respected MMA coach.

“Robert wasn’t a good coach, he was a great coach,” explained Tate. “He was probably the most underrated coach out there because he was quiet and all about the athlete. He didn’t care to boast or brag or be in the spotlight but what separated him from someone who could teach something - although Robert’s knowledge was very extensive, he was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge for MMA - what separated him was his ability to make you understand situations that you didn’t before. When you’re frustrated and you’re having a bad day of camp, him sitting down and talking with you and just relating and making you feel better, that’s so important. I can’t say how much that means for a coach to be able to do that, to be able to mentor you, to be able to put you in a better place mentally and emotionally and I think that’s what Robert really excelled at. Just sitting down for 15 minutes with Robert Follis could change your whole day. . .

“He really made an effort to be a well-rounded coach, not just what he could teach you but what he could help you with way more outside the Octagon, outside of the training room. He was always there to talk to you and he always made you feel better and I know I’m not the only one. There’s a lot of athletes out there that could say the same thing about Robert.”

And a lot of athletes have. In a business that can often be petty or cutthroat, Follis was an almost universally beloved character. As a founding member of Team Quest, Follis played an important role in launching the careers of MMA legends like Randy Couture, Matt Lindland, Chael Sonnen, and Dan Henderson, among many others. But rather than rest on his laurels, Follis continued developing young fighters, moving from Team Quest to Xtreme Couture where he shepherded talents like Tate and UFC interim lightweight title challenger Kevin Lee, all while building a reputation as one of the best coaches, and people in the sport, which Tate puts down to his passion for MMA and for the people he surrounded himself with.

“That’s what’s unique about Robert,” said Tate. “I don’t think people understand what goes into coaching. It’s a full-time job. If you want to be an exceptional coach, as Robert Follis was, it’s a 24-7 job. When he goes home he would study film on the opponents, he put together game plans, he would be there for you, good days, bad days, inside the gym, outside the gym. Whatever you needed, Robert was the guy you knew that you could call on and that’s I think what separated him.

“It’s such an underwhelming job in a lot of ways. Coaches truly get the satisfaction from seeing their athletes do well because there’s not a lot of money to be made as an MMA coach. They don’t get paid millions of dollars like football coaches and basketball coaches. MMA is still in many ways a very starving sport until you make it to the very top. Robert had all degrees of fighters, from me who made it to a world champion to Kevin who fought for the title, all the way down to pro debut athletes making $500 and $500. Robert was the kind of guy that was there for you no matter what level you were on and he was going to give you the time and dedication because he cared. It wasn’t about the money. You don’t become a coach in MMA because of the money. It’s not a very lucrative position. I know Robert was very passionate about what he did and he was damn good at it.”

After her interview, Tate posted a photo to her Instagram account of Follis hugging her after she won the bantamweight title at UFC 196, an image, she told Thomas, that was the biggest memory she had of Follis.

“He just gave me the most heartfelt biggest hug, and we both had tears in our eyes because we worked together for a long, hard time. I don’t know if he really knew how much he meant to me and how instrumental he was in me getting that title. I told him but I don’t know if could ever understand to the depth that I value that, but that moment, there’s a picture of us hugging and his eyes are closed and I’m just beaming and you could just see the emotion on our faces and how much we cared about each other and how that journey felt so good to accomplish that together. So that’s something that I’ll always cherish.”

The cause of Follis’ death was ruled a suicide. Follis’ family has asked for time for privacy but shared an email address where people can send memories, stories and photos of Follis:


Suicide. Death of esteemed MMA coach Robert Follis ruled a suicide.

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Bad. Dustin Poirier says “dirtbag” Eddie Alvarez knows Poirier’s a bad matchup for him.

Fight. Glover Teixeira says Jimi Manuwa isn’t in a position to call for UFC London fight.


Robert Follis reacts to Miesha winning the belt at UFC 196.

Fight Motion is always worth your time.

DC talking about how nice it was to take time off.

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The MMA Hour. Interviews with Randy Couture, RDA, Gaethje, Till, and many more.

The Co-Main Event. Recapping UFC Winnipeg and previewing Cyborg-Holm.

Anik & Florian. Recapping UFC Winnipeg and mourning the passing of Robert Follis.


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If you or someone you know is at risk of or thinking about suicide, please reach out for help as soon as possible by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

That’s all for today folks. Take it easy and see y’all tomorrow.



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