ARTICLE BY Emma Bramford (Front Row MMA)
So in the early hours of June 3rd I finally managed to get a Skype Interview, well more of a chat with War Machine aka Jonathan Koppenhaver, who is making his return to the octagon on June 19th against Blas Avena after being re-signed to Bellator, and if you know anything about War Machine then you will know that this wasn’t going to be any ordinary conversation. He is one of the very few, I feel brutally honest people out there, who says how it is and doesn’t believe in sugar coating anything. You either like this guy or you don’t it’s as simple as that, but then again I too believe in saying it how it is, so to me this was a match made in heaven.
Ok so I’ve done a little bit of research on War Machine purely for my own reasons, if you catch my drift, after all you’ve got to get know the person you’re about to talk to – right? And this is one person whose public perception I feel really needs changing for the better, but that’s just my opinion.
On December 7, 2011 it was announced that War Machine was re-signed to an exclusive deal with Bellator Fighting Championships and would be competing in their Season 6 Welterweight Tournament. War Machine was expected to fight Karl Amoussou in the opening round of the welterweight tournament at Bellator 63. However, War Machine was sentenced to a year in prison for the prior assault in Las Vegas, Nevada from December 2009 and was forced out of the bout and the tournament. It was a little after this I personally became interested in War Machine, when I found an online blog called “War Machine’s Prison Diaries” which detailed everyday he spent in prison for the 2nd time. He also documented his first time which is also available to read online. To me there was something about him that I could relate too on so many different levels (and before anyone thinks it – No I’ve not been in prison), so that’s where my research on War Machine began.
War Machine was set to make his Bellator Debut on January 17, 2013 against UK’s Paul Daley, in a fight which was put to the fans vote which would open up the first of the Welterweight Tournament. War Machine however he tore his ACL which forced him out of the fight. After all he had previously been through, this was a big blow to him and thought karma once again had dealt him a bad hand.
Fast forward 5 months to current day and…..
War Machine (12-4) will face Blas Avena (8-6) at Bellator 96 on June 19, 2013.
So I’ve just logged into Skype for the first time yep, I’ve not actually done this before, so it’s going to be very random because that is me all over, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Besides in the initial “Hey”; the first thing War Machine asks me is “Where is the Nandos at”? Yep, when he came over here to fight on BAMMA 3 against Zach Light back in May 2010 he couldn’t get enough of Nandos.
EB: You’re finally getting your debut fight for Bellator on June 19th, which is great as UK fans who can also finally get to watch Bellator for the first time on TV (Channel VIVA), what are your thoughts on Blas Avena?
WM: My only thought is that I’m gonna smash him. I got better stand up, better wrestling, I’m stronger, tougher, all he has is a Black Belt in Jiu Jitsu. What’s he gonna do lie on his back and submit me? Like fat chance, you know it’s not gonna happen. He’s tough, but he’s not tougher than me. He’s not got enough tools to beat me, I’m gonna smash him.
EB: Would you say you have any “Cage Rust” going into this fight, having not fought, since beating Roger Huerta on 26th November 2011?
WM: No, I fight in the gym everyday so my “cage rust” has already gone. I had Cage Rust when I first came out of Jail and first went to practice, but I’ve been training every day and fighting my team mates, now I’m back to normal.
EB: How is your knee holding up after tearing your ACL?
WM: I had a partial tear in my ACL, I didn’t get surgery and I just let it heal up and rested up. It’ s like 90%, feels pretty good, once in a while it bugs me nothing crazy, its good, I’m good.
EB: I read on your Twitter that you don’t get your Medical bills paid by Bellator or anyone; surely if you fight for an organisation they should pay your Medical bills?
WM: Bellator only have insurance when you get hurt in the cage during an actual contracted fight. I got hurt when I was training for my fight, I don’t have my own insurance.
I briefly touch on the subject of me wanting to know more about him and his past that makes him the person he is today. However I am also a bit reluctant to do so as I say it to him straight in my own words of course – well it is me we’re talking about and I don’t do a soft approach, “ I don’t want to piss you off or get a pissed off you but I’m intrigued by you, your “Prison Diaries” and that side to you.” War Machine replies, “I won’t Piss him off or get him pissed off.” Hhmm that’s great I’m thinking I will return to that subject further down the line I think.
“You have to do something really dumb to get me real mad”
Ok so as soon as I mention “Love Life looking up” I get a cheeky laugh with a cheeky grin. I ask is it “Christy” (as in Christy Mack) to which he confirms it is. If you guys don’t know who Christy Mack is then I suggest you may just want to google her! Tip! Just make sure your other half is nowhere to be seen and clear the cache/search engine of your internet browser after doing so. He also states Christy as his Girlfriend; if anyone knows War Machine he doesn’t have Girlfriends and certainly doesn’t publically announce them. This makes this information BIG news in War Machine’s life. If you have read his “prison diaries” you will know exactly where I am coming from. With the break up in his marriage, how hard it was for him to deal with it, and saying he “was never going have another Girlfriend,” I for one am glad to see that War Machine is starting to believe again in that side of things.
“Shit happens it’s like you get drunk and you get a hangover and say you’re not ever gonna get drunk again and you drink again”
War Machine on Christy Mack
“She’s cool, she’s really smart, that’s the best part about her. Christy is one of the smartest girls I have ever met seriously, if not, the most, smartest. Most porn girls are stupid.”
Then I ask a dumb question for which I really knew the answer deep down, but you know when you just get lost in the conversation and it all goes out the window, yep I had that moment and anyone that really knows me, knows this is truly the real me. Thankfully however it still flowed really well for me.
EB: What came first, the fighting or making the porn movies?
The Fighting (yeah it was obvious, but you can see why I got carried away in our conversation)
EB: How did you end up in the porn industry?
After I started fighting, I then got famous, so these porn girls wanted to f**k me, and they said you should do porn, so one day I said f**k it and I did it.
EB: Did you make good money from it?
Yeah, when I was doing it
At this point as we’re casually talking and it’s not like an interview whatsoever. I say “Ok most of this is what has intrigued me so far by the way, but I know the UK fans will be so I won’t put all of this in the interview.” War Machine replies, “I don’t care because what interests you will interest other people.” Finally someone who gets it! Music to my ears! Just to let you all know, I haven’t held a single thing back that me and War Machine have talked about.
War Machine views on the Paul Daley situation, his visa issue and Bellator.
“He’s lucky he only got his visa suspended. I got put in Jail for a year for a bloody lip. He’s lucky he’s English; I would have paid $100,000 for a visa problem. Hell yeah Bellator will keep him on, we’re fighter’s, this is what we do. Who cares if we get in one little street fight.
EB: Did you learn anything in going to Jail?
No it didn’t teach me shit.
EB: It didn’t rehabilitate you whatsoever?
No it’s just got me angrier, pissed off and worse. Jails a big waste of time and space of life but I don’t wanna go back there. Now I’m just like a Hermit, I don’t go out, I don’t do stuff, I don’t wanna risk getting into trouble, but I’m still the same guy, f**k them. I didn’t do anything wrong in the first place. I don’t think it should be against the law to fight, I mean it’s like a natural fun thing.
EB: So are you saying the system does not work?
No it’s stupid
When I first started reading War Machine’s Prison Diaries I remember him saying in the very early days, that it’s not the actual person who is doing the so called “Time” in prison that it affects. It’s the people that are left behind. Now we all know of someone who has been in prison, but it’s not until it’s a close family member/friend that you can personally relate to what War Machine has stated, not a truer word has been said.
So War Machine says I’m a sucky interviewer, that maybe true, but only because I had no set question’s laid out, but that’s just my style. I’d rather a “conversation” based interview over a Q&A interview any day but again that’s just me.
EB: How has it been adjusting since coming out of prison?
The first couple of days sucked real bad, slowly you get used to it, but it’s hard. You go to jail, you lose your car, you lose your credit, your money, you lose everything you have. You got to come out and start all over again. It’s tough but what can you do? You got to keep going forward.
EB: Your probation deal sounds pretty harsh from your twitter feeds, how does that work?
They don’t come to my house that much, (part of War Machine’s probation is random house checks) but when they do come its annoying as hell.
EB: How often do you see your probation worker?
Once a month
EB: That’s not too bad really, have you changed to a male one yet?
Yeah he’s way better than the female, she was a f**king c**t!
EB: Ok I have to clear this up now; do you actually have an issue with females in authority?
(War Machine said nothing I asked was going to piss him off, unless it was really dumb and I personally did not class this as dumb, it was a fair question)
I have a problem with anyone in authority; no one should be in authority. No one should be the boss of me. I don’t respect any authority; it takes more than just your title or position for me to respect you. There has to be a reason for me to respect you. I’m not going to respect you just because you’re wearing a badge or you happen to be in this spot in office. I couldn’t give a f**k. I respect you for reasons I respect you for, you know, I don’t care if it’s a girl or a guy I’m not going to respect you just because you got a badge on. That does not mean shit to me, I have a problem with all authority.
EB: Respect is basically earned?
Yeah I’m not gonna give it just because!
EB: So what is next after Blas Avena?
The Bellator tournament in September, for which I will win; I’ll win 100k. Fight the champion that fluffy head little bitch Ben Askren, I’m going beat his ass.
I asked about the fight deal Bellator made with War Machine, as I always believed Fighters were contracted to a certain amount of fights i.e a 3 or 5 fight deal. Then the contract to be renewed or not as in some cases, but this is not the case. This is how War Machine described it too me.
“If I won the tournament, the belt and became Bellator Champ, well UFC gonna try and sign me, but Bellator has the last say. I can only leave if the UFC are offering more money than Bellator, so Bellator gets the last say. So if Bellator matches that I can’t leave, Bellator always have the last say”
EB: Would you, if Dana came back to you, go back to the UFC?
I don’t really give a shit, I don’t. NO; period! I’ve already been there, I’ve seen all these guys go there that suck, it isn’t that special anymore. I just wanna fight and make money; do you know what I mean? I’m happy with Bellator because they don’t whine and cry when I say something. The UFC are like NAZIS, you say one thing and they suspend you or fire you, I like Bellator because I can say what I wanna say, Bellator lets me be me still.
EB: With your current probation situation would it stop you being able to come to the UK?
I would need to go to the court to ask permission. I love the UK, I love fighting there, I love how they say C**t and F**k off. If I go there, I hope the Queen grants me a full pardon so I can stay there forever, America sucks.
EB: Since Paul Daley has visa issues and the fans voted for you both to fight in the last Bellator Welterweight Tournament; of which you had to pull out due an ACL tear, would you be up for fighting Paul Daley in the UK?
I would love to go to the UK and fight Paul Daley. That’s a tough fight, I like Paul Daley, he’s kinda like me but he’s black. I like him, but I like to beat him up too. I’d love to go to England, eat some Nandos, I love England I’d have so much fun there.
So it appears my interview/chat has gone full circle. War Machine started with Nandos and we appeared to have ended randomly with Nandos and no I’ve not even changed the opening and ending questions around, it has just played out that way. For someone who hadn’t planned a single part of this interview/chat and even got called a sucky interviewer, I personally don’t think I’ve done too bad but hey that’s just my opinion.
Since doing this Interview/Chat with War Machine he had taken to his Twitter account on June 6th by quoting the following: (there is relevance why I’ve added it in here)
"Here's a big F**k YOU to all you cheap a** MMA sponsors out there, kill yourselves, we bust our asses in that cage for PENNIES, f**k you. You f**king clothing companies, promoters & managers get rich off of OUR pain and suffering ya'll and have the nerve to nickel & dime us? In 2008 Sprawl paid me like $1200 (maybe more, I forget) to wear their shorts on a NON-televised fight, now they offer $500? JOKE! All of you dumb f--- fighters need to start telling these companies to F**k OFF! Don't accept their low ball offers, make them pay us fair!"
"I'll wear a BLANK shirt, a BLANK hat and BLANK shorts-no they won't be blank, they'll say, "MMA SPONSORS ARE CHEAP F**S" on them all! EVERYONE in MMA is making money EXCEPT the f**-ing fighters! I bet Arianny Celeste makes more f**king money holding up a f**king ring card! And ALL of you MMA fighters who are seeing my f**king posts and AREN'T RT'ing them have no f**king balls! You know I speak the truth”
“I'd rather sit here and promote the few good companies for FREE, than to promote a company who wants to pay me PENNIES to wear their shit”
Just after these tweets (with some others in between) War Machine announced Bellator will be televised on UK TV on channel VIVA, you would think that sponsor’s would be lining up at this HUGE opportunity?
June 7th War Machine Tweets
“See what happens when you have BALLS and stand your ground!!! REAL sponsor in the works, an MMA company trying to do shit RIGHT! Stand by.”.
“All you COWARD ass "fighters" out there need to take notes from DADDY and grow a pair of balls so that you can get the $ you deserve too”.
“I want to send a big THANK YOU to my new sponsor @TheSaintApparel , I look forward to working with you guys, thanks for backing me up!”
It took one whole day for War Machine to get a Sponsorship deal, and not just any sponsorship deal with just any company; you may not have heard of The Saint Apparel, but be prepared to in a BIG way; as always I do my homework (much to contrary belief) so I checked them out.
This is their “about them page”
Saint Apparel Canada
Saint Apparel is a Canadian made brand for the people who are motivated by success. We represent the core behind what drives people to do well; to prevail over hardship and overcome difficulty.
We come from humble beginnings. We have been considered underdogs. We fight for success and will not stop until we reach our destination.
Everyone fights for something. What do you fight for?
I contacted The Saint Apparel originally to ask permission to use their photograph of War Machine to go with my Interview (for which I had seen an associate of The Saint Apparel, tweet to Jon) whilst we corresponded over e-mail I asked for a Statement as to why they chose to sponsor War Machine, this is what they had to say:
“We chose War Machine because he has always been known as an honest guy.
The word "Humble" may not be the first thing that comes to mind in relation to him, but I think he is incredibly humble deep down in his heart.
There always seems to be something going on with War as well. People love to watch him and listen to what he has to say.
He is an incredibly underrated fighter, and we think he could be a force to be reckoned with in the near future.
On top of all of these things, I personally used to idolize this guy when I was in high school.
He speaks his mind, he can fight, and the girls love him!”
Owner and Founder
The Saint Apparel
War Machine trains out of Und1sputed Gym in San Diego, you can follow him on Twitter (if you don’t already I don’t know where you have been) @WarMachine170, for his new sponsor head over to www.thesaintapparel.com @TheSaintApparel and for nutrition his other sponsor www.gardenoflife.com, @gardenofliferaw