Freelance: “War Machine” Given 36 Years to Life in Prison


The 35-year-old UFC and Bellator MMA veteran legally known by his fighting nickname of “War Machine” (born John Paul Koppenhaver) was given a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 36 years for the brutal kidnapping, beating, and sexual assault of his ex-girlfriend and former adult film star Christy Mack (born Christine Mackinday in) as well as a friend named Corey Thomas yesterday (Monday, June 5.)

The sentence was handed down to Koppenhaver by the overseeing District Judge Elissa Cadish.

Koppenhaver had a history of being abusive during the 15 months that he and Mackinday were a couple. Per his Twitter account, Koppenhaver originally went to Mackinday’s home to surprise her with an engagement ring. You can read her lengthy account of the events here.

The jury could not agree on two counts of attempted murder but did convict Koppenhaver on a mix of 29 felony and misdemeanor charges for the incident that originally occurred at Mackinday’s home in Las Vegas in August of 2014. Should he be granted parole, Koppenhaver will be 71 years old. He initially tried to hang himself in his cell at the Clark County Detention Center in October of 2014 after being captured while on the run. He attempted to hang himself a second time this past January.

This was before allegedly finding religion after reading a pair of works by author Lee Strobel. The 14-5 Koppenhaver (1-1 in the UFC, 2-1 in Bellator) said in his official statement during his sentencing as reported by a multitude of media outlets:

“I should have killed myself by now. There's no reason right now that I shouldn't be in the dirt right now laying next to Aaron Hernandez. That's 100 percent true,” he said.

“Not a day goes by that I don't seriously regret all those things that I did. I was a very, very lost, very empty person," Koppenhaver said in his statement. "And to top it off, something's not right with my head. Plain and simple. I've known that a long time and I've hated it. I've hated the way that I think. I've hated my impulses. Half the time, I don't know why I do some of the things I do. And some of the times I do things and I don't even feel like I did them until it's already done.”

The 26-year-old, 5’ 3”, 105-pound Mackinday, a native of South Chicago Heights, Illinois, suffered a list of injuries that included: 18 broken bones, a broken nose, missing teeth, a fractured rib, a ruptured liver, and it was also reported at the time that she suffered thigh bruising so severe that it would inhibit her ability to walk for weeks.

At the conclusion of the two-week trial, Mackinday simply said on the subject of possible parole that should her former significant other be released from incarceration that she was certain Koppenhaver would kill her. After extensive facial reconstructive surgery, Mackinday defiantly rebounded and posed for an “eye-popping” photoshoot with the tattoo world’s Inked magazine. The issue was released in November of 2016.

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