On June 19th, War Machine [né, Jonathan Koppenhaver] made his first appearance in the cage since November 2011. He faced BJJ black belt, Blas Avena, under the Bellator MMA banner. After pulling off possibly the most talked-about crucifix of the entire year, the ref stepped in to stop the fight before the end of the first round, and War Machine was victorious. Now, just a few days before his next fight in the Bellator tournament (to be held on Friday, September 20, 2013), Koppenhaver is more determined than ever to silence any opponent that would stand in his way.
Quite possibly, there has been only one interview in SJ Sports history that continues to get hundreds of views per day, and that’s War Machine’s. Love him or loathe him, he does only what he knows how to do best: winning. Or perhaps more importantly, maintaining an utterly spellbound audience.
Last time Jon and I spoke, I mentioned that these interviews are not for the faint of heart. Once the first question leaves my lips, anything goes. In this particular interview, we talk about his first fight back, how his current opponent has fought only “Kung Fu dorks,” his opinion on Matt Riddle’s retirement from fighting, and his and girlfriend Christy Mack‘s salacious new business endeavor.
Read on if you dare…
SJ Sports: Tell me about your last appearance at Bellator against Blas Avena. How did it feel to be back in the cage? There wasn’t any apparent “ring rust,” but did you feel any?
War Machine: At first, I was a little more nervous than usual because I hadn’t fought in so long. It was my first fight back on TV. I felt a little bit weird the first 30 seconds or so, but once I got in the mix of it, I settled in a little and I felt perfect. I thought I performed very well for my first fight back. I won the first round. I did well on the feet and on the ground. He’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu; I beat him on the ground. So, I was proud of my performance.
SJ Sports: Did anything surprise you about Avena once you were in the cage with him?
War Machine: I wasn’t surprised. He fought the way I thought he was going to fight. Anything could happen, but I knew I was going to win. You never know if it’s going to be in the first round, the second round, how it’s going to happen. I thought maybe I beat him a little easier than I expected. There were no surprises.
SJ Sports: What has been going on since the last fight in terms of training and camp?
War Machine: Actually, in that fight, I cracked one of my ribs. He got me with a couple good knees. I couldn’t really train for about a month. I got back into the gym and I have been training hard with my boxing coach, Joe Vargas and my jiu-jitsu coach, Baret Yoshida. I’ve been training, training, training; sharpening up my skills and getting my cardio ready. I feel like I am in great shape and my skills are sharpened. I have been dieting; since I was in jail the first time, I have been on an 80% vegan diet. I’m lean and I’m hard. I’m happy with everything. I am excited to f*cking fight again.
SJ Sports: Your opponent, Vaughn Anderson, is relatively unknown in the states, but he is obviously the real deal: 16-1, finishing eight of his past nine fights…have you learned anything about the caliber of opponents that he has faced recently? Were they quality?
War Machine: No, he sucks. I mean, he’s 16-1 against a bunch of chumps. He basically is going to Taiwan and picking on little Kung Fu dorks that don’t know how to fight. He has a great record. I wasn’t saying anything bad about him. What I was saying was that I was going to win…because I am going to win…and he started talking all this sh*t. Talking about how he’s better than me at everything, that I’m more of a striker and he’s more of the jiu-jitsu guy, that I have no skills, that I suck, that all I do is lift weights and have sex. He’s talking a lot of sh*t because no one will give him a chance, no one knows who he is, he’s a nobody and he wants to make a little bit of noise to get some attention. All it’s doing is making him look dumb. He should have went into this fight humble and gained some fans out of it. Instead, he’s talking like he’s going to smash me. He’s delusional. Unless I slip on a banana peel, they can’t beat me. Realistically, I have better hands, better wrestling, better jiu-jitsu. My jiu-jitsu coach trained with him a year ago in Taiwan, so firsthand I know for a fact that I’m way better than he is. He’s telling people he’s going to submit me in the first round? He’s crazy; there’s no way he beats me. He’s tripping, man. He’s going to see. I can’t wait to go in there and smash him.
SJ Sports: Have you seen video of him?
War Machine: I watched a couple of fights just to get an idea real quick. From what I saw, he’s one of those guys that thinks he’s a Muay Thai kickboxer, but he’s not. He throws kicks, but he has no hands. When he gets hit in the face, he flinches. He has a crappy single leg [takedown] he shoots. He’s not real athletic. He’s kind of a chubby guy. For me, I’m not impressed at all. I’m going to smash him and move on to the next fight.
SJ Sports: How did Anderson get into the tournament?
War Machine: I know Bellator recruits all around the world trying to find new talent because they don’t want to rely on only UFC rejects. They want to find their own talent. On paper, you look at this guy and he’s 16-1; that’s a great record, you know? Fighting overseas, no one’s ever seen him fight before, so [Bellator] said, “Hey! Let’s give him a shot on the big stage and have him show us what he is made of.” It’s unfortunate for him that he drew me first.
SJ Sports: Are you doing anything to prepare differently for Anderson than you did for Avena?
War Machine: I don’t care what my opponent does. I make my opponent fight me; I don’t fight them. I always train the same. The only small adjustment I made was that he’s a southpaw, so my coach holds the pads [accordingly]. I have several southpaws on my team, so on sparring days I’m trying to go mostly with them just to get used to that stance, but besides that, no other changes.
SJ Sports: Do you have difficulty with southpaws?
War Machine: Southpaws are always tricky, but the thing is, [Anderson’s] not a good southpaw. If it was a really, really good southpaw with great boxing, they give you a lot of trouble. Everyone they’ve sparred is always orthodox, you know? But, he doesn’t throw a lot of hands; he throws kicks. These guys, they move to Thailand and they think they’re going to come back and be Muay Thai experts. Roger Huerta moved there for a year; I fought him and he didn’t Muay Thai me. He didn’t do shit to me. Roger Huerta is 10-times the fighter that Vaughn is.
SJ Sports: What do you think about Matt Riddle’s statement about Bellator and not being able to afford to fight anymore?
War Machine: It sucks that Matt Riddle hurt his rib; that’s a sh*tty injury. I don’t blame him for pulling out of the fight, but saying he is going to retire? I think that’s weak. As far as him saying he can’t afford to fight anymore because he can’t fight now, fighters don’t make a lot of money. I know he has a kid and maybe he needs a regular job or whatever. I don’t like him; I think he’s a dork. He’s a good fighter though; he’s tough. I don’t think he should be retiring.
SJ Sports: Tell me what happened with your former sponsor, Saint Apparel.
War Machine: My last fight, they contacted me. I didn’t look for them. They started telling me, “We’re from Canada. We want you to represent us. What would it take for you to wear Saint Apparel at your next fight?” I told them, “If you want me to wear a t-shirt and wear a patch on my shorts, it’s $4,000.” They said, “That’s no problem, we got you. We’re going to give you $4,000 for this fight and then if you win that fight, the next fight we will try and give you more. Every fight you win, we will try and bump it up some more. We want to see you do well.” They made it really sound like they were rich as sh*t and they were just starting a business. I was really excited, so I went ahead and had the shorts made up and wore their tank top for the fight, took pictures and tweeted about them and everything. When the time came to pay, they had a million excuses. They didn’t pay me anything and kept beating around the bush and ignoring me. I finally called them out on Twitter and caused a big stink about it and they finally sent me $800. They promised to make me a payment every month, like, $500 till they pay me off and told me they had gotten over their heads. I said, “Fine, that’s cool, whatever,” and I stopped talking sh*t about them. Then, after the $800 bucks they gave me, they stopped texting me back, they stopped communicating at all and that’s it. They owe me $3,200 bucks. They disappeared; they’re crooks. They deleted their Twitter. They had a Facebook; I don’t know if they have it anymore.
SJ Sports: Are you going to make the decision to get payment upfront now, instead?
War Machine: I don’t know, man. I’m an easy guy to f*ck over because I’m very honest and I don’t think that people are going to be dishonest in these kind of situations. This fight, Future Legend is sponsoring me. I don’t see the need to get their money upfront. In the future, if I ever get a new company that’s not well-established, then I’ll ask for the money upfront. I don’t think it’s fair for me to do my end of the bargain and not get paid for it.
SJ Sports: Let’s talk about you and Christy. Tell me about the tattoos that you both got and how that came about.
War Machine: I don’t know how it came up, but we both have a lot of tattoos. We were going to get tattoos for each other and it kept escalating and escalating and I had the idea for the stamp because I have a stamp on my collarbone that says ‘Product of Baret Yoshida.’ So, I said jokingly at first, “Why don’t you get a stamp on you saying, “Property of War Machine?” I was half joking, but she was like, “Alright!” I was like, “No you won’t!” and she said, “Yeah, I will!” So we got to the tattoo shop when we were in Vegas and she was kind of chickening out. She wanted to change it and get some script somewhere else; something less crazy. I was like, “Whaaaat…” She’s like, “Well, you were only going to get a small ‘Mack’ somewhere.” I said, “I don’t give a f*ck! I’ll get f*cking ‘Mack’ on my throat.” Again, I was joking, you know? Or half joking. She was like, “No you won’t.” I said, “Oh, I won’t?! I f*cking will!” So she’s like, “Alright, then do it.” So, I got ‘Mack’ on my throat and she got ‘Property of War Machine’ on her back. We went pretty gangster with it.
SJ Sports: How are you splitting your time between Vegas and San Diego?
War Machine: I have my fight coming up, so I have to be in San Diego for training. She’s been here with me a lot. We go to Vegas on the weekends when we can to see her mom and her other dog, but we’ve been in San Diego for the most part.
SJ Sports: You posted the other day on Instagram that you are looking for girls that would be interested in hooking up with Christy while you film it for her website.
War Machine: She has her own website that pulls in ‘x’ amount of dollars per month. I was just thinking of ways to increase traffic for the site and get more money. The longtime porn thing is always like, they’re driving and you see a girl on the side of the road. “Oh, what’s your name?” and they pick her up and they f*ck them, you know? People always want to see civilian regular girls get f*cked. Everyone knows that that girl is really a porn star; she’s not really a civilian. So I said, “Dude, Christy, you’re popular enough where these f*cking girls, they’ll come and they’ll f*ck you or us or a threesome for free because they’re in love with you.” She’s like, “No they won’t.” I said, “Trust me, they will.” So, we start posting that thing and we’ve been getting tons of emails from girls. We got emails from girls across the country that are willing to fly in and f*ck her for the website or have a threesome with us. We actually have two sisters; one is 18 and one is 19 and they’re going to fly in from way somewhere in the midwest and they’re going to have a foursome with us.
SJ Sports: Whaaaaat?!
War Machine: Yeah. This is going to bring, I think, a lot of extra traffic to her site. People are going to actually watch the evolution from the post on Instagram, the comments on Instagram, to watching us and those girls actually flying in to where we live and watch us f*ck them. Regular, normal girls. Hopefully, we make some money off that. I would rather us make money off her site f*cking girls than have Christy go out there and f*ck dudes in porn and risk getting diseases. There was an HIV scare recently and it’s getting a lot harder to see my girl with any other guy. At the same time, it’s fun for me because I’m a guy. Guys are horny bastards, so if I can f*ck a couple chicks with my girlfriend…and Christy likes girls, too…it’s a win-win.
SJ Sports: So, what kind of criteria are you guys looking for exactly?
War Machine: We want girls that are pretty, obviously, but not super fake, hot looking girls. We don’t want girls to look like “porn” girls, really. A cute girl that lives next door or a cute girl in the gym, not with giant fake tits or super, super hot. We want more of the super cute girls. All they have to do is come to us, take an STD test (we reimburse them for the test), sign some paperwork and we film it and have a good time.
SJ Sports: Is there anyone you would like to thank before this fight?
War Machine: I want to thank my coaches, Baret and Joe. I want to thank my teammates. I want to thank Moya, the gi company that sponsors me. I want to thank Future Legend for sponsoring me. I want to thank Garden of Life. I want to thank ChristyMack.com. There’s a reggae artist named Collie Buddz; he’s one of my favorite reggae artists. He’s in the process of making me my own custom song from scratch. For this fight, he did a remix of one of his current songs, so he’s sponsoring me in that form. He’s a great artist and I’m excited for my song.
Photo Credits: War Machine & Christy Mack.