War Machine pleads not guilty to assault with a deadly weapon

A mixed martial arts fighter accused of getting into an altercation at a Pacific Beach bar pleaded not guilty Thursday to three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

The charges against the TV actor legally known as War Machine, but formerly named Jon Koppenhaver, stem from a March 30 fight at Thrusters Lounge on Mission Boulevard, as well as another incident at a different bar in which glasses were knocked over, said defense attorney Cole Casey.

As War Machine, the man appeared on the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter, produced by the Spike TV channel by the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In recent years, he has lost jobs with both the UFC and Bellator Fighting Championships because of his outlandish behavior and controversy-stirring comments on MySpace, according to published reports.

Judge David Szumowski allowed the 28-year-old defendant to remain free on $30,000 bail, Casey said Thursday.

The attorney told the judge that his client has a target on his back wherever he goes because of what he does for a living. And he said witnesses have come with differing versions about the fight at Thrusters.

Prosecutors told the judge it was a one-on-one fight between the defendant and another person, but police reports indicate as many as 15 people may have been involved, Casey said outside court.

The attorney said his client was at Thrusters to celebrate a friend’s wife’s birthday and is upset that the incident happened.

Casey said War Machine and his friends went to the Pacific Beach lounge because they were told there weren’t a lot of people there.

The defendant currently has professional fights scheduled in this country and internationally, Casey said.

Two years ago, and before he changed his name, Koppenhaver pleaded guilty to felony assault for choking and punching a man outside a North Park fight club. A judge reduced the conviction to a misdemeanor and Koppenhaver was placed on three years probation.