Longtime MMA trainer and coach Robert Follis was found dead Friday night near Las Vegas. Follis’s girlfriend, Myra Fukuno, announced his death Sunday and invited friends and family to share their favorite memories of Follis for a forthcoming memorial. This afternoon, a representative of the Clark County Coroner told MMA Fighting that Follis’s death had been ruled a suicide. He was 48 years old.
Follis began his career at Team Quest in Portland, where he trained former UFC champion Randy Couture as well as Chael Sonnen, Nate Quarry, Dan Henderson, and Matt Lindland. Couture, one of the most decorated champs in UFC history, first hired Follis to work with him on his jiu jitsu in 1997, the same year he won his first UFC belt. After a decade with Team Quest, Follis moved to Las Vegas to work as the head coach at Xtreme Couture, and the gym flourished under his tutelage.
Miesha Tate won the women’s bantamweight championship in 2016 with Follis in her corner. In addition to others on the UFC roster, Follis worked with Kevin Lee in Las Vegas, helping him become one of the best lightweights in the world, and prepping him for his interim title belt challenge against Tony Ferguson earlier this year. Couture remembered him as a wizard of MMA’s more inscrutable aspects and a relentlessly positive person:
I think that’s what made him special. Robert had this positivity about him. He just had this persona that people were attracted to, that people wanted to be around.
Many others in the MMA world offered glowing tributes to Follis:
Couture mentioned on the MMA Hour that Follis had been dealing with depression in the wake of his brother’s recent death.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.