After losing his father six years ago, Adrian Yanez lost his second father figure, legendary coach Saul Soliz, last year. The 28-year-old will never stop mourning both of them, but it’s getting easier to deal with over time.
Losing a parent is one of the hardest things a son or daughter can ever deal with. Yanez has dealt with losing two of the most important father figures of his life. Losing his father in 2016 had a profound impact on him. It forced him to try and get to the UFC even harder than before, which he did in 2020. After making it to the UFC and knocking out his first three opponents, his long-time head coach Soliz passed away from COVID in 2021.
Yanez fought three months later and picked up Fight of the Night against Davey Grant. After the fight, in his post-fight interview, he said he needed some time for himself to reflect and make sure he was okay before thinking about fighting again. The Texas native had never got time to mourn the loss of his coach.
Yanez finally took the time he needed to focus on his mental health and his new family. He’s now set to return at UFC Austin this weekend.
“I would say yes and no [I dealt with everything]. Yes and no, because right after the Davey Grant fight, a couple of weeks later, my son was born. So, there was just a lot of stuff, kind of just piling on onto me at once. Even just with that — having my son, there was a couple of nights where I was having trouble putting him to sleep. And I would just think, like, ‘man, who can I call right now, like, who can I call?’ So a lot of times, I was trying to get through it,” Yanez told Cageside Press in a recent interview. “Trying to mourn was really hard, it was kind of really, really hard, because I kind of was just like, ‘Oh, I’m in dad mode already.’ So like, it was just a couple of weeks of me trying to deal with it and everything. You know what I will say [about] me taking that time off, it did do like a lot of great things for myself because I got to see what I need to work on and what I need to do.”
“It’s also kind of just like looking at my son and just seeing, what do I need to change in myself and what do I need to better for myself? And the biggest thing has been mental health on that end, because I don’t want my son to see the stuff, like me bottling everything up, me not dealing with everything. So it kind of did make me have to address it, and I have been addressing it.”
“I’ll never finish mourning my father or my coach Saul. It’s never going to stop; it’s never going to be easy. But it will be easier to deal with if that makes sense. Like losing them, 100%, it’s always gonna be the like, f*ck, that sucks, but being able to talk about it, because the more that I’ve actually talked about it, has actually helped me out so much more. And I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Yanez revealed that his dad helped him with bottling up his emotions, and because of that, he wants to relay that knowledge to his son.
Yanez’s father and coach taught him many lessons in life, and thanks to that, the mourning process will never go away.
“Again, I’m never gonna stop mourning them because they were such a big part of my life. I met my coach when I was 18 years old, when I was becoming a man. And then also my dad, being my dad, set a great example for me. And so like, it’s always going to be hard. But ya know, just living through their lessons is like the biggest thing for me, and it’s been helping me out so much along the way,” Yanez said.
It has also been very tough on the 28-year-old not having his two father figures around to meet his son.
“I would tell my brother that I would be ‘super jealous of you’ because my dad got to hold his daughter,” Yanez said. “You know, I’d get so.. he would be happy. He always wanted to grandson, and now he got a granddaughter, and he has a grandson. And for him not being able to hold him, like yeah, I told my brother ‘I’m super jealous of you.'”
Yanez’s son was born four months after Soliz passed away, but prior to the legendary coach’s passing, Yanez said he was so happy once the news fully kicked in.
“The initial reaction was just like, ‘oh shit, congratulations, and he shook my hand,” Yanez laughed. “But after that, he was so excited and so happy. [He was with me] every step of the way.”
The biggest downside about not having his father and coach around for Yanez is not being able to call them when he doesn’t know what to do about his son.
“It does suck because, like, those are the people who I would want to call,” Yanez said.
“There’s been plenty of times when I wanted to call my dad just to be like, ‘hey, what did you do? Like, Hey, what did you do? Like, I’m losing my shit right now. I know me, and my brother were little shits. But hey, what did you do in this situation? I just want you to talk me through this.’ And then the same thing with my coach, you know, he had his son, and I wanted to call my coach to be like, ‘hey coach, what did you do? Like, what are you doing? Like, what did you do to get through this? So, to me, it’s like, a really, really sucks.”
While his two father figures aren’t around, the “biggest saving grace” for Yanez is that he is leaving a legacy, and wherever they are, they are proud of what he has become.
Yanez returns to action in front of a sold-out crowd for the first time in his UFC career on June 18. He faces Toney Kelley in his home state as the featured preliminary card fight. Watch the rest of our interview with Adrian Yanez above.