SPORTS
07/21/2015 06:11 pm ET Updated Jul 22, 2015

HBO Investigation Finds MMA Fighters Commit Domestic Abuse At Rates Far Exceeding NFL Players

Warning: The video and report below contain graphic allegations of domestic abuse.

It's been nearly a year since Christy Mack suffered a horrific attack on August 8, 2014, allegedly at the hands of her former partner, MMA fighter War Machine.

The photos and injuries are stomach-turning and detailed in the latest episode of HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" in a report by David Scott scheduled to air Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET. However, what is most alarming is that Mack is far from alone in her suffering.

While domestic violence in the NFL has been the focus of many media reports and much criticism, figures reported by "Real Sports" show that the rate of domestic abuse arrests among MMA fighters is more than triple that of professional football players. 

The show, citing the Bureau of Justice Statistics, states that for every 100,000 American men aged 18 to 39, 360 are arrested for domestic violence. That number drops to 210 for the NFL, they said, using numbers from the USA Today database.

Yet HBO's own research -- delving into the backgrounds of hundreds of American-born MMA fighters since 2003 throughout various weight classes -- found that the adjusted rate among top-ranked MMA fighters skyrockets to 750.

The sport, Scott reported, has been plagued by a "constant drum beat of domestic violence incidents."

High-profile domestic assault cases involving MMA fighters have commanded headlines, including a handful from last year mentioned in the show: Thiago Silva, arrested in February 2014 for various charges including allegedly putting a revolver in his estranged wife's mouth (all charges were dropped in September); Kyacey Uscola, who was sentenced to 10 years that same month for assaulting the mother of his child, an attack that left her with a punctured lung and eight broken ribs.

But none got quite as much attention as Mack and War Machine, who legally changed his name from Jon Koppenhaver. Mack said the abuse started about four months into their relationship, which began in the spring of 2013. During their time together, the fighter even tweeted that he "raped" Mack, which she now says was not the joke she covered for at the time.

Following the alleged August 2014 incident, Mack escaped to a hospital, her nose broken, liver lacerated and teeth shattered. The fighter also allegedly stabbed Mack, sawed off her hair with a kitchen knife and sexually assaulted her.

War Machine is currently in jail awaiting trial that is scheduled for September. He has pleaded not guilty to the over 30 charges stemming from the alleged attack on Mack and another man who was in her home at the time. 

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The "Real Sports" segment -- which includes graphic photographs and descriptions of the alleged assault -- echoes the increasing calls for the UFC to establish a stricter domestic abuse policy, as well as to raise its standards for men who are given MMA contracts, some of whom have had past records of assault.

UFC president Dana White, who declined to be interviewed by HBO, has been slammed for hypocrisy in how UFC handled fighters charged with domestic abuse. 

"You don’t bounce back from putting your hands on a woman," White said in an interview with Fox Sports Live last September. 

Yet fighters with convictions have returned to the ring.

It's becoming an increasing problem for the sport. Not even two weeks ago, the UFC released a statement on yet another fighter accused of assault, Travis Browne.

“The prevention of domestic violence and the education of the athletes is of the utmost importance to the organization," the statement read, adding that the fighter was removed from an upcoming event. "UFC holds its athletes to the highest standard and will continue to take appropriate action if and when warranted.”

Perhaps even more insulting is that in addition to the statement on Browne and other fighters facing allegations, the UFC also touted its own Ronda Rousey for calling out boxer Floyd Mayweather for his record of domestic violence.

The Huffington Post has reached out to UFC for comment.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

 

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