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Courts & Trials

MMA Fighter War Machine Gets Life in Prison for Brutal Attack on Porn Star Ex-Girlfriend

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Mixed martial arts fighter War Machine has been sentenced to life in prison for the brutal beating, rape and kidnapping of his porn star ex-girlfriend in 2014.

A Las Vegas jury handed down the lengthy sentence Monday, which will allow the 35-year-old former professional fighter to be eligible for parole after 36 years.

War Machine, who legally changed his name from Jonathan Koppenhaver, was convicted on 29 of 34 charges that included first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, sexual assault and coercing witnesses in March.

“This is the kind of sentence that sometimes we don’t get on a murder case,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson tells PEOPLE. “The judge handed down what I believe is a very appropriate sentence recognizing that this guy is a trained martial artist with lots of violence in his past.”

Christy Mack (left) and “War Machine”
Christy Mack/Instagram; Getty

Koppenhaver initially faced 34 charges, but jurors failed to reach a verdict on two attempted-murder counts and the fighter was acquitted on three lesser counts.

The attack happened in the early morning hours of Aug. 8, 2014, when War Machine stormed into the Las Vegas home of ex-girlfriend Christy Mack and discovered her in bed with her then-boyfriend, Corey Thomas.

During the eight-day trial, Mack told the jury that her former beau bit Thomas in the face and right arm, then put him in a chokehold before finally allowing him to leave the house, warning him not to talk to police.

Then War Machine turned his rage on Mack, beating her, she said, for two hours, during which he knocked out several teeth, broke her eye socket and nose, fractured her rib and ruptured her liver.

Christy Mack

Mack told jurors that as she lay crumpled on her bathroom floor, War Machine told her, “Now I have to kill you. I’ve gone too far. You can’t be seen like this. Everyone’s gonna know.”

He expressed remorse at Monday’s hearing.

“Sometimes I didn’t realize what I did until I’d already done it,” the fighter told Clark County District Court Judge Elissa Cadish, according to the Associated Press. “I hate that this happened.”

Mack, whose face was nearly unrecognizable in the days following the savage beating, ended up in the hospital with 18 broken bones.

“She’s a strong lady,” adds Wolfson, who appears in MY Entertainment’s Sin City Justice premiere episode on the War Machine trial that airs on June 8 at 10pm on Investigation Discovery.

“I hope she’s satisfied with the justice that we delivered. But for the grace of God, he could have killed either one of them. I think they’re lucky to be alive.”

During the sentencing, Mack told the judge that she still fears for her life.

“I do know when he gets out, he will kill me,” she told the court.