TUF 6, UFC vet coming off win over Roger Huerta
Bellator Fighting Championships will give it one more try with Jon Koppenhaver.
"War Machine," whose run-ins with the law, attempt at a side career in the adult film industry and comments drawing the ire of MMA promotions have been well-documented, has signed a deal with Bellator. It will be the welterweight's second attempt at fighting for the promotion – though he never made it to a fight with Bellator the first time before being released. Thursday morning, Bellator announced the signing of War Machine (he legally changed his name in August 2008).
War Machine's out-of-the-cage incidents have been fairly consistent since his short time in the UFC four years ago. In July, he was released from jail after serving a one-year sentence for felony assault.
But after going 1-1 with the UFC, War Machine (12-4) has gone 7-2 for regional promotions, including a third-round TKO of UFC and Bellator vet Roger Huerta last month for Ultimate Warrior Fighting in Texas.
In an official statement from Bellator, War Machine acknowledged his past and that he needs to change directions in order to avoid going down the same paths again.
"My past has kind of shaped and molded who I've become," War Machine said. "But the mistakes I've made in the past have definitely made me realize that I have to avoid certain situations in order to be the type of person I want to be."
War Machine was released by the UFC after a submission loss to Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC 84 – but only reportedly because he refused a fight offered to him by matchmaker Joe Silva and made disparaging remarks about former UFC champion Evan Tanner, who had recently been found dead. When Bellator signed him to be a part of its first season, it wasn't long before he was given his walking papers after comments on his MySpace page about President Barack Obama.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said he hopes War Machine can turn things around with Bellator, though a first fight with the promotion hasn't yet been booked.
"Jon’s not had an easy road," Rebney said. "And there’s no doubt he’s made some poor choices. But after having had conversations with him since his release, he really seems to understand where and why things went wrong and wants to make them right. And when he’s focused on nothing but training and fighting, he’s a talented and exciting fighter. I hope he’s able to turn this second chance into something positive."
War Machine has finishes in all 12 of his victories, seven by KO and five by submission. After just turning 30 last month, he said he believes he can hang with the best in the sport.
"It’s like I hit the rewind button," he said. "I didn’t get released from Bellator because I sucked. I got released because I was making poor decisions in my life. Right now I’m just out to show the world that I do belong here fighting the best with Bellator.
"I’m excited for the chance to prove myself and make up for a lot of the stupid stuff I’ve said and done in the past. I love my family and my teammates and I want to make them all proud of me. I want to show them what I’m truly capable of. I know there are a lot of kids and people I care about there watching me, so I need to be a lot more careful about some of the choices I make. I just want to make everyone proud of me."