Christy Mack and “War Machine”- One Year Later


Disclaimer: This column, as is the case with most things that I write, is an MMA op-ed column. The opinions and views expressed are my own and may not necessarily reflect CBS Sports, the 920 AM affiliate, or insideSTL Enterprises, LLC.

While a part of Lewis and Clark Community College's official newspaper, The Bridge, I had the unfortunate duty of having to report the following in December of last year:

“Domestic violence has recently emerged as an issue affecting the world of sports. A notable [case] is that of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter, Jon “War Machine” Koppenhaver. Koppenhaver was arrested on Aug.15 following a week-long manhunt after an assault left his former girlfriend, adult actress, Christy Mack, needing facial reconstructive surgery. Thirty-two felony charges, including attempted murder, sexual assault, battery, coercion and lewdness could lead to Koppenhaver receiving a life sentence...”

Mack, aka Christine Mackinday, told Jane McManus of espnW.com that the two started a relationship after meeting at a photoshoot in 2013. Sometime thereafter, trouble began.

"He became abusive about four to five months in, but by that time I was totally in love with him," Mack says. "So, so in love. The first time I thought, 'Oh it'll never happen again.' The day after, he stayed home from training and coddled me. After every time he would hit me, those were the best days of our relationship."

I feel it necessary to add that Koppenhaver hypocritically disapproved of Mack’s profession, having done porn himself, as McManus wrote. It appears that the attack allegedly at the hands of “War Machine”, was out of envy that Mack had moved on. One Corey Thomas was also a victim in the domestic incident on August 8, 2014.

“If you are reading this then it must be a rap. I refuse to live a parasitic life, relying on taxes and the generosity of friends for food and shelter, while never being able to give back. I always used to say “You gotta know when the gig is up.” I had a good run. I experienced more in my short life than 5 avg. men combined.

To: Christy, my one: I truly love you and planned on being with you forever. I know that I had many flaws and that I wasn’t the best BF at times. When I left you in May it didn’t take me long to realize my mistake. I loved you more than freedom. When we re-united I was 100% dedicated. I know you felt it. I guess it was too little, too late though because something seemed different about you. It drove me crazy, but I knew that you still loved me because you kept telling me to get you the ring. Looking back on it, I guess you wanted security before you “put all of your eggs in one basket” again. That night I was so excited to see you. Finding what I found that night was devastating to me, more than you will ever know. Not just the unfaithfulness, but the way U cared for him and protected him. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish that you weren’t hurt that night, I hope you know that. If I could do it all over again I’d just have laid down and let him beat me up. Maybe you still loved me enough to stop him and make him leave. Maybe I could have just laid on our bed and cried and you’d have held me. Maybe you still loved me enough to end that fling and re-commit to me. I’ll never know. I forgive you, please forgive me, I love you. In hard times know that I am there to lean on….”

“Oh man, writing all of this has me crying like a lil’ bitch! I still don’t understand how I got into this mess, I don’t know why this had to happen. My life was going so well. I know that I made mistakes in the past but I had corrected that and was living life correctly. It is one thing to catch a case when you set out to commit a crime, but catching a case when you have nothing but good intentions in your heart is just so hard to accept. The severity of the charges makes it that much worse. They wanna charge me with battery and DV? Fine, do it, but don’t railroad me with B.S. fantasy charges like rape! Attempted murder! Kidnapping! And burglary! It’s fucking ridiculous…” (sic)

- These are excerpts from John Koppenhaver’s suicide note written while in custody. He did not succeed in the attempt.

Koppenhaver later made a lengthy post that made its way onto MMAMainia.com, in which he claims to have found God.

I’m not going to potentially offend anyone’s religious beliefs, so I’m not going to engage in that type of discussion. I do find it odd that someone like Koppenhaver can have the type of life he had growing up (watch The Ultimate Fighter, Season 6 for evidence), be involved in not JUST a domestic dispute, but one of such magnitude that Mack had 18 broken bones in her face, and then suddenly find God all in a timespan of around a year.

My first concern is for Christy and other victims, I want them to be victims no longer following their incidents. More importantly, I don’t want victims in the first place. I am so glad that HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel didn’t just include MMA fighters in their story on Mack and Koppenhaver. Domestic violence is: a hockey problem, a football problem, a basketball problem, a boxing problem (HBO promoted a boxing event following Real Sports by the way), an MMA problem, a sports problem, etc.... Domestic violence is a problem, PERIOD.

This is why I am such a fan of not just the face of women’s MMA, Ronda Rousey, but of both female divisions currently available to females in the UFC, and that the often mentioned Invicta Fighting Championships run by Shannon Knapp, gives the sport’s female athletes a home as well.

MMA’s bad boys include: the Diaz brothers, Nick and Nate, (both have had legal troubles before, Nick was arrested twice on DUI charges in ten months back in 2014), Jon Jones, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Thiago Silva, the list goes on and on.

However, for every one of these “men”, there are people like the Gracie family and the true competitor that is Georges “Rush” St. Pierre, and more.

Contact sports and combat sports DO have the dark cloud that is domestic violence hanging over them and there needs to be more done, but to send out a tweet that reads:

@WarMachine170, “Just raped @ChristyMack She tried to make me wait until “after errands” As if! =p “ (Aug 10, 2013, 1:11PM, sic), which got 98 “favorites” from other users, goes beyond MMA.

As reported by Real Sports, “He [Koppenhaver] said it was written in jest. Mack now says, it was no joke.”

Reporter: “So he raped you that day?”

Mack:Yes, and of course I defended him. He told me to tweet, ya’ know, “Say it didn’t happen”, so I did.”

Mack revealed during the same interview that Koppenhaver used steroids, and that during the dispute he said, “That’s my p****! I’m gonna’ take it back!” Simply being an MMA fighter does not make a person a steroid-abusing, “I do Alpha Male s***!” t-shirt wearing “villain” in much the same way that Mack being a porn star or having moved on makes her somehow not a HUMAN BEING.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert Rener Gracie said, “If you’re a 16-year-old kid who’s been in and outta’ gangs your whole life, fighting street fights all the time, can’t figure it out in school, run away from home, aggressive, AGGRESSIVE personality, you look at professional MMA and say, “Holy cow!....” “...I don’t believe anyone who has convictions of abuse of use of these physical skill sets should be allowed to profit, and essentially benefit and become famous for those same skill sets.”

So what makes the now legally named “War Machine” a villain? He wrote in a letter to Real Sports trying to defend himself, writing that it’s because of his name being War Machine, being outspoken, being a fighter, etc… that he is a villain. Mack said,“The point is, he broke the law. That’s what makes him a villain.”

This gives me hope because that statement separates these criminals from MMA, and most importantly, Mack knows this wasn’t her fault.

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“Can you stay strong? Can you go on? Kristy, are you doing okay? A rose that won't bloom, winter's kept you. Don't waste your whole life trying to get back what was taken away.”

"Kristy Are You Doing Okay?"

-The Offspring

To Christy and everyone else to whom it applies, stand tall and stay strong.

#Bellator