Fighters mourn loss of 'Godfather' of Texas MMA who died of COVID

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- He was known as the "Godfather of Houston MMA" who helped many fighters win inside the octagon. But the man many called a legend tragically lost his battle with COVID-19.

Coach Saul Soliz was just 55 years old. His family said he was not vaccinated.

Soliz wasn't just a competitor. He was also a trainer who spent 26 years of his life grooming young fighters. The beloved trainer helped children and adults in kickboxing, wrestling and more.

He also trained professional fighters all over the world.

Adrian Yanez, who was one of the fighters Soliz was working with before he got sick with the virus, said the coach was supposed to corner his fight in July.

Since Soliz tested positive, he never made it.

Yanez recalls having one last conversation with his coach as he was trying to encourage him for his fight.

He was hoping he could say goodbye in person, but it didn't happen. Now, he's left cherishing the moment he shared with a man he called a second father.

"If it wasn't for him, MMA in Texas probably would not have been around that early," said Yanez. "He did a lot. He worked with the [Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation - Combative Sports] ... worked rules for fighting, just in general."

Other fighters also acknowledge that Soliz was more than their trainer.

"When I needed to be treated like a son, he treated me like a son," said MMA fighter Mana Martinez. "When I needed to be treated like a fighter, he treated me like a fighter, and I'm sure he did that for everyone else."

Fighters from all over the country have been sharing their condolences on all social media platforms.

Meanwhile, funeral arrangements for Soliz are underway.

For updates on this report, follow ABC13 anchor Mayra Moreno on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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