War "Jon Koppenhaver" Machine is out of jail
Now that War Machine is finally free, you might think our 'Free War Machine' T-shirts are a just scraps of cloth with what would appear to be a now defunct message emblazoned upon them. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, the shirts might hold even more importance now that War Machine is in fact free from incarceration. The statement 'Free War Machine' isn't just a call to the masses to end the lockup of one individual. It's a broad statement that applies to any of us that are crying out to be unshackled from the chains of judgement and misinterpretation. It's a statement for all of us who just want to be understood. Sometimes we just don't want the world to see us, because we don't think that they'd understand. When everything's made to be broken...I just want you to know who I am. whoa, I just went down a little emo Goo Goo Dolls lyrical trail right there.
To be understood and accepted for who we are, that's what most of the world really wants--and that includes War Machine. He talks about this and so much more in his first post incarceration interview with Will Gray at USCombatSports.com:
You were cut by UFC after your Evan Tanner comments, later Bellator for your Obama comments; anything you want to clarify?
The UFC was right in what they did and it was a business deal in the end. Dana White told me ‘War machine, I like you but what you said, it isn’t god for business to promote.’ I understand where he was coming from but everyone took what I said out of context.
I said that the way he (Evan) went into the desert with the limited supplies he had looked like he wanted to die. Dude was depressed and had a drinking problem, we all know that. He went from being a UFC champion and his last fight was a split loss against Kendall Grove. I trained with Kendall and was in the back after that fight and saw Evan just looking blank at the ground, you could tell he was depressed. I said what I said and stand behind that, it looked like he wanted to die when he went out there, but everyone blew it up into what it wasn’t.
As far as Obama, I was stupid saying something when I was angry. However, again it was twisted to say I wanna kill the president. I said that someone should smoke him and every president to come after until we get a president who cares about the people. I don’t like the government and how it is set up to look out for them, so it’s not like I was pointing him out alone. I know it was dumb to say but everything gets twisted if someone wants it to.
2007, you got into it with someone at your gym, Undisputed in San Diego. What really happened?
We were there at night after training was done, me and some friends drinking and just hanging out. We live in San Diego and it gets hot so we had our shirts off. Two dudes and two girls stumble drunk into our gym and we were like ‘who are these guys?’ We still were minding our own business and one of them walks by us and starts eyeing us, sizing us up and is like ‘oh look at the tough guys with their shirts off’ and is talking crap like he wants to do something. I spun him around, sunk in the choke and let him fall to the mat and we all laughed about it.
His friend and girls take him out across the street, he comes to and realizes what happens and starts yellin and gets into it with some of my boys and gets hit. Later in 2008, I got the police saying I was identified as the guy who knocked him out when I never hit him, I know I choked him but I didn’t hit him. He decided to drop that I hit him in court and that gave me the lesser sentence of just probation, I know it was dumb of me to choke him but it was dumb for him to come in somewhere drunk and start trouble.
2009, Las Vegas – Krave nightclub, what happened there?
I had began working there as a server and minded my own business. We had some bouncer there who did not like me from the start, some big ol dude – like 6'3", 350. He used to run his mouth about how he was a fighter and could whoop up on anybody, I never blew his spot up about being a chump so whatever. He used to talk crap about me like ‘I could beat you, you aint no fighter, blah blah blah.’
One night he and I were arguing and he got real close to me, like almost nose to nose about how I was a punk and everything and he tried to flinch on me. I am 5'11" and he is 6'3", all I see is him moving forward and I reacted. Hit him got him mounted and that was that. Dude got in my face and I’m not a punk, you know? I’m gonna defend myself when the situation arises.
Do you think people will look to start a fight with you because you are recognizable of being a fighter?
I do. I think not because it is me personally but that they know me from the show or media and say ‘oh he’s small, I am big and will smash him.’ People always wanna be a thug when alcohol is flowing. I remember when I was locked up this time, a guard came up and was like – hey remember me? I didn’t know who he was and told him that. Turns out he was a guy who tried to get em up with me in a bar a few years back; this is a cop admitting he was looking to start something just because he knew I was a fighter, so yeah – people can do dumb things just to make a scene.
2010, Pacific Beach in San Diego. You are arrested and this incident put you behind bars for a bar fight. What happened?
We were out, me and some friends having a good time, someone comes up and starts talking crazy to my boy and then next thing I know – they are going at it and his friend jumps in with him. So here I am, watching my boy get teamed up on and had literally seconds to decide. I’m not gonna let my friend get beat so I did what I had to and jumped into it.
The cops came and we all saw what happened, the media has a picture of me everywhere with a spit bag on and all you read is: UFC FIGHTER IN BAR FIGHT, SPITTING ON COPS; If I were to have spit on a cop, I would have been charged and I wasn’t. I never spit on anyone, let alone a cop. They put the bag on me because the place was packed and it was to help protect my identity, the cops knew who I was so they were trying to help me.
When I was being charged and sentenced for it that was a joke too. They said I was a lethal weapon and everything since I was in the UFC but my friend is a Navy SEAL with confirmed kills, the guy who started it was an Army Ranger with confirmed kills, so how am I the most dangerous one in the bunch?
Looking back do you regret this incidence or any?
I stand behind my actions on everything. I do not regret what happened in Pacific Beach with my friend. I wasn’t gonna let him get double teamed. What I learned from that was not to put myself in the situation. If I wanna drink and have a good time, I need to do it at home and not a bar, people get stupid in bars and it seems every time I go out, trouble finds me.
The stuff at my gym was dumb and I should not have choked him but whatever. Vegas – I’m not gonna let someone get in my face and talk like they wanna do something. I have always fought and stood up for myself.
In the middle of all this, before you went to jail, you went into porn – what happened there?
(Laughing) Who wouldn’t want to right? Man, I was upset and just lost a bullcrap decision and was angry. I called my friend who was in LA, in the business and was like – I wanna do this and that was that. I did it because I wasn’t married, had met a lot of porn stars while fighting and it just happened. I’m done with that now, no more porn – I am married and happy.
While in jail you wrote a lot of blogs and a lot of MMA sites posted them as a way to drag your name through more mud, what are your thoughts?
I saw what they were saying and whatever to that. If people want to portray me in that sense, that is their deal. I am not the guy TMZ or these sites have made you think I am. Jail sucks, nothing was fun there and I could not wait to get out, be back into training, back with my girl and get on with my life.
Did you discover who your friends were while serving time?
I did. Some people I thought would be there weren’t and the opposite as well. So life is funny that way, my gym (Undisputed – San Diego, Ca) had people there when I was gone and still there when I got home last week. My friends and the people who know me, they know me.
How did you feel after being released and the first time back in your gym?
It was almost dizzying really. After being able to only shadowbox in my cell for a year, I went into training really hard, like two a days. I’m sore now but it’s great. The thing is, I was surprised how off I was. My timing, holding my breath while sparring, some of my students getting the better part of me and these were guys I was working before.
It’s all good though; I am training and looking at an October return.
With this being your comeback, do you expect it to be awhile for the UFC to sign you?
Yes. I know what I did and have a debt to pay them as well. I need to get off probation, prove everyone wrong and get solid wins under my fight before Joe Silva calls me. I want them to see how I have changed instead of assuming, I owe it to myself
Given your legal issues, what do you think of how UFC handled legal matters with Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson?
Those guys are marketable and draw business. When you say ‘Tito Ortiz’ you think UFC and same with Rampage. I think it is smart on their end to protect their investments but at the same time it is kind of like, where is their punishment? It’s not my place to say what should happen but I know they’re a business minded company and it is what it is.
What about smaller name promotions? Do you see a problem signing with them?
I would like to get with some of the smaller guys and work up. There are a lot out there who I could sign with. Local stuff in California, BAMMA – Tachi Palace puts on good shows, I know there is MFC as well; there was a new promotion formed in Singapore. So I think there are many opportunities for me to sign with.
Do you feel like sponsors will have a problem backing you with your past?
Not fight sponsors, I mean Tapout and Hitman, stuff like that should be fine. I don’t think Gatorade will be calling me anytime soon but I’m cool with that.
What do you want fans that do or don’t know you to get out of your MMA return?
To not look at what the media and others may tell you but to look at the person, me or whoever, you know? I am a good guy, I say what I feel and sometimes it gets me in trouble. I stand behind my actions and decisions, I know some are not the best but I can’t change the past; I can learn from it and do my best to not be in a situation where it could repeat itself. I am thankful for the second chance, thankful for my wife sticking by me and my friends and students for supporting who I am and not who I was made out to be. [source]
Thanks go out to Will Gray at USCombatSports.com for allowing us to republish this interview.