Tate Memorializes Coach Follis
Following the shocking news of his passing, former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, who spoke with The Luke Thomas Show on Monday, discussing what made Robert 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.”
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. Follis continued developing young fighters, when he made the move from Team Quest to become head coach of Xtreme Couture where fighters like Tate and UFC interim lightweight title challenger Kevin Lee, all sat under his learning tree. Tate claims Follis’ 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.”
Her greatest memory was when Tate won the bantamweight title at UFC 196.
“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: firstname.lastname@example.org