One of MMA’s most respected MMA coaches Robert Follis has died, leading to an outpouring of heart-filled tributes from fighters whose lives he made an impact on during his time at Team Quest and then Xtreme Couture.
Follis’ girflriend Myta Fukuno confirmed on Facebook that Follis passed away on Friday, December 15th, though the cause of his death has not yet been officially announced.
“Robert Follis, a man who has touched and changed so many lives, passed away on Dec. 15, 2017,” Fukuno wrote. “He was kind. He was loving. He was compassionate. Robert was an incredible teacher, who opened our minds and created a space where we knew learning was possible. He had a way of pulling the best out of us. He will be remembered as a beloved friend, brother, son, mentor, and coach by many.”
Throughout his coaching career Follis had a major role in shaping the careers of a huge number of MMA stars, working with the likes of Randy Couture, Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Matt Lindland, Miesha Tate, Kevin Lee, Chris Leben and countless others, with many of them having now spoken out to pay their respects to someone who was clearly an influential figure in their lives.
“As one of the founding members of Team Quest and Xtreme Couture MMA it is with great sorrow that we say good bye to Robert Follis. Robert was a friend, coach, mentor, and philosopher of martial arts to many of us. It is with a very heavy heart that I write this tribute to a man that touched so many. Death is like the sun. There is no escaping it. It infuses every part of our lives, but it doesn’t make sense to stare at it too long. That becomes a real challenge when someone you know, love, and respect ends their life. This is where Robert has been since his brothers passing a couple years ago and where we are left now. It is very easy to get caught up in the urgency that comes from the limited span of our lives. It can push us to obsess over life’s meaning in the time we have. But obsessing over it, and staring directly at it too long can blind us to the possibilities of living. Robert was a Hero to many. Heroes have the whole earth as their tomb . . . There is, enshrined in the chest of every person he touched, a record unwritten with no tablet to preserve it. It’s that which he imprinted on our hearts. What lives on is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what he has woven into the lives of others. Those who have lived with us become a part of us. We honor the dead by living their values. Through our efforts, we ensure that the good things they stood for continue to stand even when they are gone. Robert stood for many good things. Let’s let Our actions become a living memorial to Robert Follis.” – Randy Couture
“Heart Broken to hear the news about Coach Robert Follis. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and the fighters he trained. I remember his voice during my pro debut as he coached against me, and how kind he was after the fight. He was a father/mentor to so many of his athletes. Coach Follis always made time to talk to me about his athletes and their development. The way he spoke about them was the way a parent boasts about their children. We lost a big piece of our MMA community. He was both a pioneer in the beginning of MMA and an innovator in today’s evolving sport. My heart is with Ed Herman, Ryan Schultz, Chris Leben, Meisha Tate, Tim Elliott, and so many other fighters who are devastated right now. We won’t forget you Coach Follis. RIP” – Brian Stann
“I became good friends with Robert Follis throughout filming of TUF 25 I just stayed at his house last week I haven’t heard what happened can anyone fill me in? He was an awesome guy and the more I got to know him the more respect I had for him.” – Matt Brown
“I just heard the news of Robert Follis’ death.
I knew Robert from the beginning of his MMA career and transition to coaching. He has always been a kind and supportive person and I have enjoyed a long friendship with him
Heartbreaking. You will be missed my friend.” – Josh Barnett
“Deeply saddened to hear my friend @RobertFollis passed away yesterday. I’m at a loss for words and my heart hurts for the MMA community that has lost a great human to the cosmos. See you on the other side coach.” – Frank Trigg
“Robert Follis you will be missed! These little speeches people take for granted. As an teacher and student I will always remember and learn what you have taught. #youwillbemissed #rip #xtremecouture #follismma.” – Roy Nelson
“It’s a sad day this man change my life and countless others maybe the most kind hearted and good person I’ve ever had in my life you Will be missed.” – Chris Leben
“I just bought a house in Vegas to be near him, I was a better person when I was near him!” – Tim Elliott
“Terrible news about @robertfollis and deeply sadden for all those who are affected. Glad I was able to work with such a powerful and inspiring person . #rip #mma” – Jessica Eye
“This is one of the hardest posts I’ve ever had to make. Robert Follis you were the a light in a very dark world. You taught me so much about MMA and even more about life. I will celebrate your life and live my life to my best ability to make you proud. You will be greatly missed. I love you Robert Follis! #RIP.” – Heather Jo Clark
“Sucks to wake up and hear this news. RIP @robertfollis such a nice guy.” – Dana White
“Gonna really miss this guy’s smile and positivity. And that voice! Massive loss for our tight-knit MMA community. My condolences to his family and all the fighters whose lives he impacted so profoundly.” – Jon Anik
“Can’t believe what I woke up to about Robert Follis. Truly a class act every single time I interacted with him. Great guy to be around and so knowledgeable. The MMA world will not be the same.” – Jimmy Smith
“I am in Finland at this moment and got word that Robert Follis has passed away. Hoping this is wrong!! This is a huge loss if true. One of the finest trainers and men in the world of MMA. Please, please be fake news.” – ‘Big’ John McCarthy