The verdict is in. Former UFC and Bellator fighter War Machine – born Jonathan Koppenhaver – will get 36 years to life for his hideous attack on his ex-girlfriend Christy Mack and her boyfriend Corey Thomas. The former fighter will be eligible for parole after 36 years. He will be 71 years old by the time this parole eligibility arrives.
This sentencing follows the March crescendo of War Machine’s long and arduous trial, during which many horrifying details of his attack on Mack and Thomas came to light. In the end, he was found guilty on a whopping 29 of the 34 charges levied against him, including such grim offences as sexual assault, battery and kidnapping. The most severe charges he faced – a pair of attempted murder charges – resulted in a hung jury, meaning the jury was unable to agree on a guilty or not guilty verdict.
According to MMAJunkie.com, Clark County District Judge Elissa Cadish denied last-minute motions filed by War Machine’s defense attorneys for a new trial. The grounds for this attempt at a new trial surrounded alleged evidence that War Machine was unconscious at the time of his attack on Mack and Thomas, and therefore not fully aware of what he was doing.
Judge Cadish had this to say of War Machine, and of his sentencing.
“I don’t think you’re a monster – I think you’re a human being. I don’t discount those, but there also have to be consequences for what happened, and I have to look out for the well being of the community as I consider the appropriate sentence. I do think a substantial amount of time is warranted, not only for punishment’s sake, but avoiding danger to the community.”
Mack gave a gut-wrenching testimony at this hearing.
“I’ve been punched and kicked, smothered and bitten, raped and tortured,” she said. “I was met with this more times than I can count, and I still cry every time I think about how it feels.”
Mack also suggested that she believes her life will be in danger if War Machine is ever released from prison.
“I don’t know if my life will feel complete in 12 or 20 or 30 years, but I do know that when he gets out, he will kill me.”
Thomas also appeared at the hearing to urge the judge not to be lenient when sentencing the former fighter.
“He tried to kill me,” he said. “Let’s get realistic. He has the background, and he’s done it before. He’s wasted everyone’s time, and I don’t think the minimums should apply.”
Finally, War Machine himself spoke at the trial, suggesting that, having found God, he was willing to accept whatever punishment Cadish decided on.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t seriously regret some of the things I did,” he said. “I was a lost and empty person. I hated the way that I think. I hated my impulses. It caused me to hate myself. I hate myself way more than any of these people do. I would look at myself in the mirror and smash my face. That’s how much I hated myself. It was the only thing I could do to prevent myself from killing myself.
“I gave my life to God. For the first time in my entire life, it’s brought me peace inside. It’s helped me to remove my self-hate. It’s given me the ability to manage my depression and anxiety.
“I hated that this happened. I hate that I had to hurt the woman I loved. I hate that I had to ruin my career. But it’s been a blessing in my life. It’s made me grow into a real man. No matter what happens in this case or the future, I’m just glad that I finally have woken up and seen the truth. And I really believe I’m going to be able to be a good role model for the rest of my life.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 6/6/2017.