By Kelly Wheeler
City News Service
Mixed martial arts fighter War Machine's next battle may be in a San Diego courtroom, as a judge Thursday refused to honor a plea agreement that would have sent him to jail for a year for assaulting a bartender and bouncer.
War Machine, 28 - who legally changed his name from Jon Koppenhaver - pleaded guilty last month to two felony charges of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.
In February and March, he allegedly punched a security guard and assaulted a female bartender at another club by sweeping bottles off the bar at her while being on probation for a misdemeanor assault conviction from 2008.
Under a plea agreement, he would have been sentenced to a year in county jail and three years probation.
At a scheduled sentencing hearing today, Judge David Danielsen said War Machine's actions show a "certain disrespect to anybody other than himself," and that he thinks he can "fight his way out of anything."
Before tearing up the plea deal, the judge warned the defendant what would happen if he repeated his violent ways.
"Do it again, and you won't be able to fight your way out of a state
prison sentence," the judge said.
He said War Machine would be looking at five years in prison.
After a brief break, Danielsen said he was alarmed by the defendant's actions in court and statements made to a probation officer in preparation for sentencing.
He said he would not honor the plea agreement, set another hearing for Aug. 24 and told prosecutor Michael Runyon to prepare the case for trial.
"It really is a state prison case," the judge said. "If (War Machine) is guilty of this felony conduct, he should go to state prison."
Outside court, Runyon told reporters the judge was concerned about the defendant's attitude and his characterization of the incidents to which he pleaded guilty.
Before the hearing, Runyon gave the judge several tweets from War Machine's twitter account, in which the defendant says, "wish I could smuggle a few hundred Ambien in (to jail) in sleep the year away!"
He also says he wasn't even involved in a fight at a bar in which he is accused of punching a security guard, and "I do ME and don't change for anything or suck up to ANYONE."
"(Judge Danielsen) wants him to take a timeout," the prosecutor said.