Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney Issues Statement on War Machine's 'Offensive' Tweet

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Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney Issues Statement on War Machine's 'Offensive' Tweet
Photo courtesy of Sherdog.com

Bellator welterweight Jon "War Machine" Koppenhaver is the latest fighter to make an ill-advised and offensive joke on Twitter when he unleashed a series of messages on Saturday afternoon.

Koppenhaver is no stranger to controversy and was released from his original contract with Bellator after making derogatory remarks about President Barack Obama on Myspace. He's also served two separate sentences in prison, had a short-lived career as an adult film star and continues to have one of the most questionable Twitter accounts on the social networking site.

Bellator brought Koppenhaver back where he recently picked up a win over Blas Avena, but on Saturday, he decided to make what he believed were jokes, via MMA Mania's Matthew Roth, involving rape when speaking about his girlfriend, adult film star Christy Mack.

The Bellator welterweight eventually deleted the second message making reference to rape again and then went on a tirade defending his actions, saying others were taking his joke out of context. (Due to the graphic nature of the tweets and subsequent messages, they will not be posted here.)

It took a few hours and some other colorful language from Koppenhaver on Twitter before he finally issued an apology.

Following that message, Bleacher Report reached out to Bellator officials for a comment on Koppenhaver's actions, and if any additional discipline would be handed out for the offense. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney responded by saying that while he absolutely does not condone the behavior, Koppenhaver has apologized and he's hopeful that he's learned from the situation.

"I agree with those who found Jon’s earlier statement to be offensive and inappropriate. And, while his public apology (“I tweeted something earlier that was stupid, insensitive and wrong. Rape is never something to joke about ever. I sincerely apologize”) surely does not excuse his statement, it does evidence his recognition of the seriousness of the situation and his realization that what he said was offensive, ignorant and hurtful," Rebney said via email on Saturday night. "Since the day I entered this business, I’ve believed that my job was to treat our fighters like human beings and not like property.  Human beings make mistakes and sometimes say stupid things.

"I’m surely prepared to take action in warranted situations as evidenced by recent promotional contracts we have terminated with well-known, popular fighters who have committed assault and/or who have broken the law. But, in this situation, I remain hopeful that Jon will learn from his mistake, redeem himself and become a better man for it and I would like to give him that chance."

The fighters Rebney is referencing in his statement include former welterweight standout Paul Daley as well as middleweight Maiquel Falcao, who were both released by Bellator following recent arrests.

Koppenhaver unfortunately joins a sad, but growing club of MMA fighters who have made terrible choices by joking about a very serious crime such as rape. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin was admonished after making comments about rape on Twitter, and he was joined by former WEC champion Miguel Torres, who tweeted about the subject as well.

In Torres' case, he was briefly released by the UFC due to his comment but allowed to come back to the promotion just weeks later.

Since that time, the UFC has instituted a promotion code of conduct policy for its athletes. Bellator, meanwhile, has taken every situation in a case-by-case approach when dealing with its fighters.

Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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