Shawn Tompkins didn't win coach of the year honours Wednesday night at the World Mixed Martial Arts Awards, but the late Canadian trainer's name will be associated with the trophy for years to come.
MMA Awards founder and Fighters Only CEO Rob Hewitt announced that the award for best coach will be renamed the "Shawn Tompkins Coach of the Year Award."
Tompkins was just 37 when he died of an unexpected heart attack on Aug. 14 during a training trip to Hamilton.
UFC champ George St-Pierre's coach Greg Jackson took home the top coaching hardware, but during his acceptance speech made significant homage to the renowned MMA trainer and native of Tillsonburg, Ont.
"He was a great MMA chess player and I'm sad that I will no longer get to play chess against him," Jackson said. "He was a great strategist, coach and a good friend."
A memorial video that featured Tompkins' mentor Bas Rutten and top-notch Canadian UFC fighters Mark Hominick and Sam Stout reflecting on the man they called "The Coach”"was the highlight of the nearly two-hour show held annually in Las Vegas.
Tompkins' wife, Emilie, took the stage to a standing ovation as several fans and fighters wiped away tears.
"One funny thing about Shawn was that in the past year he had been talking about a bucket list and how many things he would have liked to accomplish before his life was over and fortunately for him he accomplished a lot of them," Emilie said. "This would go above and beyond that. I'm so proud and I'm so proud of him.
"There's only one thing that I want everyone to remember is that when Shawn passed away I had the choice to either be set back by his death or to really be inspired by his life. I’m truly inspired by his life and so proud of him."
Tapout clothing co-founder Dan (Punkass) Caldwell said opportunities like Wednesday’s event give the MMA community a time to celebrate instrumental figures to the sport such as Tompkins.
"The sport's going to miss him so much," said Caldwell.
"It's such a tragedy. I would have liked him to see where the sport's going. The new FOX deal. He would have been a big part of it all."