LAS VEGAS – Adrian Yanez still hasn’t processed the death of Saul Soliz, but hopes a good performance Saturday will extend his late coach’s legacy.
In August, Soliz died at 55 after a battle with COVID-19. The Texas MMA community and beyond mourned and Metro Fight Club was left without a head coach. The emotional toll has been challenging, but Yanez (14-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has imagined how his coach would want him to handle the situation in the lead up to his fight Saturday vs. Davey Grant (13-5 MMA, 4-4 UFC).
“This training camp, at times, was harder, because there were times at the morning session where I was walking in and I’d see (Soliz) sitting down in a certain spot,” Yanez said at a UFC Fight Night 198 pre-fight news conference Wednesday. “Just walking and seeing him and just greeting each other, I miss those little, small moments, you know? There’s a lot of little, small moments that I’d have. Me and my training partner Cameron (Smotherman), we were there religiously. He was there on Saturdays. I wouldn’t really go on Saturdays but they had this whole thing.
“We knew exactly what our coach wanted and everything but there were some hard moments, yeah. Kind of knowing how my coach was, he was just the guy that would be like, ‘No, I don’t want anybody being sad about my death. I don’t want anybody crying or anything like that.’ It’s a celebration of life – and that’s how I’ve been treating it this whole entire camp.”
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The hole to fill has been gaping, but Yanez explained, Soliz’s system is still alive in each of his fighters, who are now equipped to pass down the knowledge to others.
“Man, I get to go out there and prove that his system works,” Yanez said. “Him not being here is going to help me prove his system, if that makes sense. We’ve kept literally the same system that he does and doing everything the way that he’s done it. We even brought back some of the old things I used to do whenever I first got with my coach back when I was 18. I brought some stuff back. When I go out there and stop Davey Grant, just seeing that it works.”
UFC Fight Night 198 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex and streams on ESPN+. Check out Yanez’s full pre-fight news conference in the video above.
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