Ex-MMA fighter ‘War Machine’ sentenced for kidnapping ex-girlfriend

In this March 9, 2017 file photo, former mixed martial arts fighter War Machine, also known as Jonathan Koppenhaver, left, listens to testimony during his sexual assault and attempted murder trial at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas.

(Bart Le Blanc/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

LAS VEGAS – Las Vegas jury on Monday found a former mixed martial arts fighter known as War Machine, guilty of kidnapping and sexually assaulting his porn actress ex-girlfriend.

Jurors deadlocked Monday on two of attempt to murder against Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver, but convicted him of a total of 29 counts. He could face up to life in prison.

Koppenhaver, 35, went by his birth name during the two-week trial but had legally changed to War Machine during his 19-fight MMA career.

Lawyer Jay Leiderman this week admitted Koppenhaver the debt and eight smaller domestic battery charges, including punching and injuring ex-girlfriend Christy Mack. Koppenhaver was also charged with threatening her male friend Corey Thomas when he put them together on the bed in 2014.

“He did it. He used fists to save the face,” Leiderman said Thursday the assault on Mack.

The Associated Press normally does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but Mack gave permission for the use of her name.

In closing arguments, Leiderman suggested that the jury never learned much about the August 2014 attack on Mack’s home, including Koppenhaver, the state of the spirit, and therefore could not know whether he intended to commit a crime.

The lawyer characterized Koppenhaver as a “raging bull” with brain damage from his fighting career and emotions ignited by the use of steroids and non-prescription stimulants and antidepressants, which combined could be the cause of mood swings and violence that Leiderman referred to as “roid rage.”

Mack, 24, spent eight hours on the witness stand, crying as she said that she was assaulted and raped by Koppenhaver in the months before the attack on her and Thomas.

“‘Now I must kill you, because people saw you try to escape,'” she recalled Koppenhaver say after an incident sparked by his rejection of a wig and decorative teeth that she wore. “‘I’ll take you to the desert and kill you.'”

Thomas, a digital media company owner, testified that he dated Mack for two months before Koppenhaver arrived at her home unexpectedly, flipped on the bedroom lights, and set him on the bed with a quick-fire punches and choking.

Thomas testified that he suffered a broken nose, dislocated shoulder, abrasions, bruises, and bite marks. The beating stopped, he said, when he asked Koppenhaver if his “end game” was going to kill him or let him go.

Mack testified that Koppenhaver attacked her after Thomas left. The jury saw photos of Mack with a broken nose, missing teeth, broken eye socket and leg injuries. She had also suffered from a lacerated liver.

Prosecutors played a recording of a 911 call, Mack placed with muffled sounds of a struggle and screams. She said Koppenhaver was attacking Thomas at the time.

Mack said she fled her home and ran the bleeding to neighbors when Koppenhaver went to the kitchen to retrieve it with a knife.

Koppenhaver was arrested a week later in the Los Angeles, suburb of los angeles. Officers of justice, Rob Stephens and Jacqueline Bluth said he fled because he knew he was guilty.

The former fighter is in custody in Nevada. He is serving a 1½ to four years in prison for violating his probation on a 2009 conviction for attempted battery with a 21-year-old woman.

Koppenhaver made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut in 2007. He had a 14-5 record as a welterweight. His last fight was in 2013.

He was dropped by his fight promoter, and his clothing line after Mack’s accusations became public.

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