Last week, we sent out a heads-up that HBO’s Real Sports was going to run a segment about possibly the ugliest topic available to fans of our sport: domestic violence among MMA fighters. Among the folks interviewed were to be Christy Mack, the ex-girlfriend of former Bellator and UFC fighter Jon Koppenhaver — who legally changed his name to War Machine.
It would be the first interview Mack has done on the topic since sustaining a horrific beating last year, described here at Caged Insider (warning: graphic content). War Machine is currently facing lifetime imprisonment for the assault of Mack and an acquaintance.
“Though this topic sucks,” Jim Genia wrote dryly, “It’s probably going to be must-see TV to hear what Mack has to say.”
The segment aired last night, and it’s safe to say Genia called it.
The report focused first on Mack, who described a long history of abuse (including rape) by War Machine.
The report went on to describe several other fighters who have faced domestic violence charges, including current UFC light heavyweight contender Anthony Johnson. As we noted here at Caged, Johnson, who has been accused by three different women in the last six years, entered a “no contest” plea to charges in 2009 and was sentenced to community service, probation, and counseling.
The segment took a turn for the bizarre as journalists visited Jason “Mayhem” Miller, who was arrested last year in connection with two alleged attacks on a girlfriend.
“Everyone on this crew, I could submit all three of you!” Miller boasted at HBO cameras, between drinks from a chalice and puffs from a glass pipe.
Miller says there’s no real process to keep a criminal element out of MMA — and feels that’s how it should be.
“I’m not a f—ing librarian!” he blurted. “I fight men in a cage!”
Rener Gracie, who trains several top MMA fighters, also appeared and seemed to offer a voice of reason — asking for better policing by promotions.
The report offered a harrowing statistic, as well — inferring that the number of domestic violence arrests that included MMA fighters was more than double that of the average national rate:
It's hard to see numbers like this and not conclude that there's a real problem here. pic.twitter.com/0PtAmNCs14
— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) July 22, 2015
Some have questioned the statistics, which the show described as representing the top 200 athletes in several weight divisions. Some fighters could be wrongly accused as well.
But as Fowlkes wrote, it’s hard to argue there isn’t a real problem here; and it’s a problem that is no longer being overlooked.