A former UFC fighter who goes by the name War Machine avoided prison but not incarceration when he was sentenced Tuesday.
War Machine, who legally changed his name from Jon Koppenhaver, was ordered to finish serving a year in county jail, followed by three years’ probation. Judge David Danielsen also ordered the fighter to stay away from alcohol for three years.
In July, War Machine pleaded guilty to assaulting a female bartender and bouncer at two bars in Pacific Beach in March. On Tuesday, the fighter gave the judge a three-page letter pleading his case.
"I've made some stupid mistakes in my life,” War Machine told the judge. "I'm not a bad person. I've tried the hard way my whole life. It's not working. I'm done with that."
While Danielsen gave War Machine a chance to avoid prison, he also told the defendant that he was at the end of his legal options to avoid doing so.
"You understand we're not fooling around," the judge told him. "I think we'll find out who the real guy is."
Prosecutors said a probation violation on War Machine’s part could result in a four-year prison sentence.
“Judge Danielsen made it very clear ... one error, one misstep, one violation, he's headed to state prison," Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon said after court.
Two weeks ago, when the fighter was originally scheduled to be sentenced, Danielsen said he was not inclined to honor the plea deal made with prosecutors and that the case called for state prison time. Danielsen rescheduled the sentencing for Tuesday, saying that War Machine's assertion he had not read the terms of the plea deal and statements he made to a probation officer have made him reconsider.
The judge said at the time that the fighter's words and action showed "a certain disrespect to anybody other than himself."
War Machine was arrested several times in the past for fighting outside of the ring and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in 2007. He was already on probation for that incident when he assaulted the bartender and bouncer earlier this year.