One of the most polarizing fighters in MMA, the fighter formerly known as Jon Koppenhaver, now called “War Machine”, has gone from the cage to the prison cell. He is the Howard Stern of MMA, having made disparaging comments about US President Barack Obama and the death of former UFC champ Evan Tanner, which resulted in his dismissal from the UFC and Bellator FC respectively. Back on July 16th, 2010, War Machine was sentenced to a year in jail for felony assault from an incident at a Point Loma bar earlier that year, as well as an additional incident at a Pacific Beach bar. He is currently housed at the San Diego Central Jail, and thanks to help from his agent we were able to get this exclusive interview with the former UFC fighter to see how things were, what plans he has for himself once he is released, and talk to him beyond just reading his blogs.
Fight Nerd: As of the date you received this, how much time is left on your sentence?
War Machine: I received this interview at the 6.5 month mark, so I’m just past half way, 5.5 months left.
Fight Nerd: Is there any word on parole or getting out early for good behavior?
War Machine: In my sentence I refused to sign for a “strike” because I didn’t feel my actions warranted one and to be honest I don’t feel it should have been any more than a misdemeanor. Anyway, since I refused the “strike” my deal included “waiving my good time credits” so I have to serve the full 365. The only loophole is something called Sheriff’s Parole and I have my hearing Feb 17th to see if I get it. If I do I’ll be released as long as I have a residence and a job (which I do) and serve the remaining time from home.
Fight Nerd: What’s a typical day like for you now?
War Machine: It’s super boring here, each day is the same and it kinda all runs together. Basically all we do is eat shitty food, sleep and watch a lil’ TV. No real “yard” or sun ever and no type of workout equipment. I’ve already lost 14 lbs pure muscle from lack of nutrition and not being able to really work out.
Hit the jump for the rest of the interview to hear his plans once he is released, how he has coped with being away from his wife for so long, if he thinks he deserved to be locked up in the first place and if he thinks he will be back in the UFC anytime soon!
Fight Nerd: What is the first thing you plan on doing when you get out?
War Machine: First thing I’m gonna do when I’m released is eat pizza and “terrorize” my wife … not sure which order … maybe even at the same time! LOL! I’ve never been so long without sex, its horrible!
Fight Nerd: How have you and your wife coped with being away for so long?
War Machine: My wife has coped very well with this situation , although the first couple months were hard on her emotionally. I’m very lucky to have great friends that have helped us out with providing her with a place to stay and with rides to come see me. Without them I don’t know what we would have done. She’s a Hungarian citizen and has yet to receive her social security card so can’t work yet, so you can imagine our situation if I didn’t have such great friends. And though this time has been hard on us, it has made me realize how lucky I am to have her. I never imagined that I’d meet a woman who loved and supported me as much as her.
Fight Nerd: Where are you at right now in the progress of the gym? Tell us a little about what the gym will be like and who will be the trainers.
War Machine: In regards to the gym my two Navy SEAL friends and I plan to open, it’s a little up in the air at the moment. The major reason is that I have yet to decide if I will remain in the US once my probation is over. As a man I do not feel safe here anymore. Some of the cases I’ve seen here and violations of people’s rights is unbelievable. You wouldn’t believe how they treat people on parole probation. One quick example: Man on parole is walking home from his late night job when a drive by shooting takes place two blocks away. A stray bullet hit him in the arm and he called 911 and went to the hospital. Parole violated him for being shot! One year in prison. Craziness.
Anyway, if the gym goes forward it will be in Austin TX. I’ll be the MMA instructor and Team Captain, my SEAL buddy will run the Cross Fit Program, my boxing coach Baret Yoshida, or friend in Brazil, Marvio Charles for BJJ.
Fight Nerd: Do you think your reputation will cause more interest or less interest in students?
War Machine: My reputation will have the same effect it always had. People either love me or hate me. But when the ones who “hate me,” meet me they quickly change their minds. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard “Man, I need to apologize, I’m one of those guys who bashes you on the net, but after meeting you I feel bad because your’e nothing like what I had imagined. ”
Fight Nerd: I remember you writing about changing your name to “Reading Machine” because you were reading so many books to pass the time. Found any new favorites?
War Machine: I’m definitely a “Reading Machine” now, lol. Best book so far is actually a series on Genghis Kahn by Conn Iggulden, I have read it 3 times so far! Genghis was sick! And that author is the shit! I liked a book called “Wild at Heart” and “Forbidden History” as well. And I can not forget Malcom X’s autobiography. Great book and every American should read it. If you’re not black, the 1st half is rough but stick with it and by the end you’ll really admire him.
Fight Nerd: What’s the weirdest thing you have seen during your time in prison?
War Machine: Weirdest thing I’ve seen is a mexican dude punching “invisible” guards” but craziest thing was a guy that “swan dove” off the top tier, ugly!
Fight Nerd: Do you think you deserved to be locked up or disagree with the judges decision?
War Machine: In regard to the judges decision, actually the DA’s, I can not agree 100%. I deserved to be put in jail for violating my probation and for being dumb enough to go out to a bar again. But what I did was not a felony. You can watch the brawl on YouTube, just type in “War Machine Bar Brawl” to find it. I didn’t start the fight and only got involved after the 2 friends of the guy my buddy was fighting ran into the fight. 5 guys fought that night but only I was charged and the victim had just a bloody lip. You can watch the video yourself and find your own conclusion.
Fight Nerd: Do you have any regrets for what happened or do you stand by your actions?
War Machine: I regret giving into “peer pressure” and going to the bar that night but I can not regret helping a friend who is about to get smashed by 3 guys. I believe that you have the right to protect yourself and those that you care about, bottom line and I don’t know when the law changed?
Fight Nerd: How are you staying in shape?
War Machine: I am in horrible shape! Haha! It’s depressing but true. I have had no motivation since being here. But actually began doing push-ups and squats 5 days ago. My 1st week here I could knock out 150 push-ups in a row now only 75! Crazy.
Fight Nerd: Would you be interested in dropping weight to compete or are you still set fighting at welterweight?
War Machine: I have always fought at welterweight and “walk around” at 187 when in top shape. I think cutting to 55’s would kill me.
Fight Nerd: Do you see yourself back in the UFC octagon ever?
War Machine: Dana White has told me before that he’d love to have me back and that if I stay out of trouble and keep winning fights he’d let me in. I believe him and think that I will succeed at changing my life around and will see the inside of “the octagon” again.
Fight Nerd: How important is a career in MMA after the time you spent here? Are you interested in reviving your short-lived porn career, or is there a new career path you want to try?
War Machine: My MMA is more important than ever! My time here has made me appreciate my sport and my love for it even more. I can’t wait to be back at training and back in the cage again. My marriage has permanently put an end to any porn aspirations.
Fight Nerd: Is this where you thought you would be at 29? Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
War Machine: If you took out my latest arrest/incarceration I’d be very happy with life at the age of 29, I’ve achieved a lot. Unfortunately I can’t rewind time, so at 29 I’m depressed at the setback. But in the years to come I see myself increasing my skills, winning fights and opening my gym, if not in Austin then somewhere abroad.
Fight Nerd: What’s the one thing you will take with you from prison once you set foot as a free man?
War Machine: The one thing I’ll take from this situation is the realization that nothing is worth your freedom and since I can not trust my instincts, in the modern world, I will NEVER put myself in a situation where there is even a remote possibility of trouble. No bars, no clubs, no parties no exceptions.
Fight Nerd: Is there a way fans can stay in contact with you in the meantime?
War Machine: Fans can continue to email me at:
SDSHERIFF.NET JON KOPPENHAVER 10754342
and can follow my weekly Twitter blogs, just follow WarMachine170.