Las Vegas, NV, United States (4E Sports) – Mixed martial artist Will Chope has posted an online video to appeal his release from the UFC last month due to an existing criminal record.
Chope appeared in the video together with ex-wife Ashley to discuss the circumstances of his release and background.
The 23-year-old Chope was scheduled to make his second UFC appearance on March 23 in Natal, Brazil.
However, he was released from his contract on the day of the fight after an article on Bleacher Report revealed he was discharged from the Air Force in 2009 for domestic violence.
Court documents stated that Chope pled guilty to three counts of assault, stemming from separate incidents involving his wife at the time. He received a five-month jail sentence in the plea agreement, which he served in 2011.
Chope, who has since remarried and now lives in Thailand, posted the video with Ashley from Florida, where he was visiting her and their 5-year-old daughter.
“I paid my dues and served my time,” Chope said. “I got kicked out of the military for domestic violence. I’m a much different person now. As cliché as it sounds, martial arts and muay Thai changed my life. I’m a calmer person. I’m a better person.”
In one reported incident, Chope threatened his wife with a knife during an argument about a joint credit card in November 2009. He called the court’s description of what happened, “exaggerated.”
In the video, Ashley, 24, said she didn’t want to “downgrade” what happened but stated she was never seriously injured.
“It was more emotionally painful for me to experience than physical,” Ashley said.
The UFC has not commented on Chope since his release on March 23. At that time the promotion stated it “does not condone behavior of this nature whatsoever.”
Chope (19-6) said that no one from the UFC has explicitly told him he’s banned for life. He intends to move on with his career and expects to fight next month in Taiwan.
A featherweight, Chope earned a multifight deal with the UFC on the heels of a 14-fight win streak in a 21-month time frame.