Former UFC and Bellator MMA fighter War Machine has been sentenced to 36 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole after serving 36 years for the brutal beating of his ex-girlfriend, Christy Mack, and her boyfriend, Corey Thomas.
Machine, born Jon Koppenhaver, will be 71 years old when he becomes eligible for parole.
In March, Machine was found guilty on 29 of 34 charges after two days of jury deliberation. The charges included sexual assault, kidnapping and coercion, though the jury deadlocked on the most serious charges of attempted murder.
Three days before the verdict, defense attorney Jay Leiderman pleaded guilty to eight lesser domestic battery charges in an attempt to reduce punishment. Those included punching and injuring Mack, who gave emotional testimony about Machine’s abuse during their relationship and the night of the assault.
War Machine broke into Mack’s house the night of Aug. 8, 2014, and discovered Mack and Thomas in the bedroom. He punched and choked Thomas before attacking Mack.
Thomas suffered a broken nose, dislocated shoulder, scrapes, bruises, and bite marks during the beating. He said Koppenhaver only stopped when he asked if the fighter’s “end game” was to kill or release him.
On a 911 call played in court, Mack was heard screaming and begging Machine to stop as he beat Thomas. After Thomas was let go, Machine started beating Mack, leaving her with broken teeth, a fractured rib and a severely ruptured liver. She escaped to a neighbor’s house after Machine said he was searching for a knife to kill her.
The verdict brought vindication for Mack, who underwent plastic surgery after the attack to correct the damage.
“Today was a great victory for myself, as well as victims of domestic violence everywhere,” Mack, who’s full name is Christine Mackinday, wrote on Twitter. “Please continue to speak out, and stay strong!”
Machine claimed he had “nothing but joy inside” over the guilty charges because he’d found religion in prison. He hoped to one day meet with Mack to express his remorse over what happened.
“One day, when enough time has passed, and when your wounds are fully healed, I hope that you will write to me, or, perhaps, even visit me, so that I can apologize completely, and so that I can tell you about all that I have found in regard to god,” he wrote on Twitter.
Machine was under contract with Bellator at the time of the assault, but he was immediately released after news surfaced. He last fought in October 2013, losing via first-round submission to Ron Keslar.
Machine attempted suicide while awaiting trial. He was apprehended
in a hotel room in Simi Valley, Calif., after going on the run. A hotel guest allegedly witnessed him getting physical with another woman and called the police.