What attracts a person to the sport of professional violence? Sometimes it's the spirit of competition, glory, fame, or honor, and sometimes people do it because it's a great way to exorcise your inner demons and get paid at the same time. Here's a look at five fighters who couldn't leave it in the cage and committed some heinous atrocities.
The saga of Joseph Hyungmin "Joe" Son is one of the most unique dumpster fires in mixed martial arts. Son developed his own style of Taekwondo that he dubbed "Joe Son Do" and utilized it to obtain an impressive 0-4 run as a martial artist with one of those losses a submission due to terror.
He debuted against Keith Hackney, a kenpo karate fighter, at UFC 4, a card that still took place under the "anything goes" umbrella of the time. Son got the fight to the canvas and went for a guillotine choke. Karate doesn't really translate very well to ground combat, so Hackney fell back on one of the most fundamental principles of self-defense as he smashed fist after fist into the groin of Son.
He was knocked out in a K-1 fight and disappeared from mixed martial arts for nearly a decade. During the absence he played a bad guy in a Lorenzo Lamas movie and a side villain in the first Austin Powers movie. He returned to MMA in 2002 and lost two fights after attempting to flee and a third after being dumped on his head.
On May 16, 2008, six years after he retired, he was arrested for felony vandalism. After 60 days in jail he was released and placed on probation. Son failed to check in and was taken back into custody on August 18, 2008. He was forced to provide a DNA sample as part of the terms of his original plea.
The sample was linked to DNA collected at the scene of a horrific gang rape on Christmas Eve in 1990. According to details of the case, he and co-defendent Santiago Lopez Gaitan approached the victim pretending to be lost. She was then dragged to the back of the car where she was beaten, threatened, raped, sodomized, and forcibly penetrated with a firearm. After the oredeal she was thrown out with her pants tied around her eyes and Son told her that it was Christmas and her lucky day.
Because the statute of limitations had passed, none of the numerous sexual offenses stuck, however, prosecutors charged him with conspiracy to commit torture and murder, crimes that have no statute of limitations. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Normally this would be the end of the story, but Son's comes with a twist. In October 2011 Son was accused of murdering his cellmate, another convicted sex offender, via a jailyard beating. It would be his first win inside a cage.
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On March 21, 2010, Jarrod Wyatt consumed some mushroom tea while hanging out with his friend and training partner Taylor Powell and another friend, Justin Davis. Davis left to pick up his dog and returned to what local district attorney Jon Norte described as the worst dismemberment of a human body that he had ever seen in his 27 years of service.
Wyatt was standing in the room naked and covered in blood. Powell was barely alive with a massive hole in his chest. His head had been bashed into the bathroom wall several times and he had marks around his throat from being throttled. Wyatt had taken a knife and carved out Powell's tongue and heart. The heart and other internal organs had been thrown into a wood-burning stove. The coroner's report revealed that Powell was alive while his organs were being removed and died from the subsequent blood loss. Wyatt claimed he was convinced that his friend had become possessed by the devil and that he needed to burn them to stop the devil.
Wyatt attempted an insanity plea but was found fit to stand trial. He was sentenced to 50 to life in prison.
Melvin Costa is an 8-7 professional fighter from California who mostly competed in KOTC between 2007 and 2014. He's fairly unremarkable as a middleweight which is probably why so many of his interviews revolve around the massive Nazi eagle and swastika tattooed across his chest. Costa also rocks aspider tattoo on his elbow, a tattoo that has been used to represent someone who has killed an African American, as well as the words "I have a small penis" circling his bellybutton.
Costa claims he was frequently incarcerated from age 15 until his last release in 2006. He's the first open white nationalist to compete in mixed martial arts and will gladly discuss why he thinks Hitler was mostly right with seemingly anyone curious enough to ask. Not for the racial stuff though, just the whole bit about Jews controlling the economy.
Costa further explained his views in an interview with Sam Caplan. He says he has no animosity to people of other races, he just simply promotes his own race first and feels the playing field will be a bit more even once we have a white history month.
If you pumped roughly 200 pounds of anger issues into a skinsuit and frequently shot them full of steroids, the result would be something similar to the man formerly known as Jonathon Koppenhaver. Koppenhaver legally changed his name to War Machine and lives the kind of life you would expect from a man with a giant neck tattoo.
In 2009 War Machine made the transition to porn because according to friends, if you're sometimes having sex with multiple women every day, you might as well get paid for it too. Former porn star Brooke Haven invited him to a party after they shot together. He was seen slapping his date Alanah Rae in the face reportedly attempted to drunkenly beat his way through everyone who attempted to get between him and his car. He was sentenced to a year in jail and three in probation for separate assaults on a female bartender and a bouncer at clubs in San Diego in 2010, and in 2012, he was working as a topless bottle server at a Las Vegas nightclub where he assaulted a patron.
In 2014, he was involved in a massive manhunt after allegedly beating his girlfriend, pornstar Christy Mack, to a nearly unrecognizable state. He showed up at her apartment where she and her on and off boyfriend were asleep in her bed. He allowed himself in with a key that he had from their own off and on relationship and found the two. According to Mack, he forced her into the shower and went through her twitter and instagram accounts, hitting her each time he found something he did not like. She claims he threatened to rape her but was unable to and sought to end her life with a knife when she escaped.
During trial, War Machine was antagnostic towards prosecutors, often laughing at the circumstances being described. At one point he blew a kiss at Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Bluth and grinned when reprimanded by the judge. His defense attempted to argue that because Mack was a pornstar who also enjoyed rough, consensual sex outside of movies, then somehow the incident at her apartment was consensual.
War Machine maintains his innocence and that he was acting in self-defense. He has posted several bizarre strings of tweets that both acknowledge some basic sense of wrongdoing and a fundamental lack of the humanity required to process those actions. War Machine sees himself as the victim and claimed in a puublished letter sent to a friend that he would have been able to legally kill both of them in Texas.
Ricco Rodriguez has a few dubious distinctions in mixed martial arts. He's the first ultimate fighter to be suspended for cocaine use, a habit that had him going through an 8-ball per day during prime use. His drug habit led to domestic charges that resulted in his one-year old son being taken away by child protective services, and he infamously appeared on an episode of Celebrity Rehab.
Rodriguez was also arrested for attacking a cab driver in 2011 and has prior convictions for DUIs, but the biggest check on his scumbag card is a story involving an incident that occured while driving high.
Rodriguez was driving with his girlfriend when he smashed into an 18-wheeler. He was already driving with a suspended license due to the previously mentioned DUIs, so he did what any sociopath would. Rodriguez thought his girlfriend died in the accident and put her body in the driver's seat. And it worked. Sort of. His girlfriend managed to survive the crash and later told the real story.
When she came to visit him during Celebrity Rehab, Rodriquez recounted how one of the staff members didn't find the story very funny. "Everybody laughs when we tell the story," he said. "That’s because all your friends are scumbags," his girlfriend replied.