With a violent streak that extends well outside of the cage and a propensity to say absolutely idiotic things, War Machine (previously known as Jon Koppenhaver) is one of the most controversial fighters in mixed martial arts. Because of that, Bellator executives must have taken a big sigh of relief tonight.
At least for now, there is no chance of him becoming their champion.
The former TUF 6 competitor lost to relative unknown Ron Keslar in the semifinal bout of Bellator's Season 9 Welterweight Tournament via first round rear-naked choke.
Keslar scored an early takedown off a caught leg kick and achieved back control not too long after. War Machine would work his way back to his feet, but Keslar had a tight body triangle locked in, and would sink in a tight rear-naked choke from that position. War Machine went unconscious, and Keslar had his hand raised for the technical submission victory.
Keslar entered the fight with a 10-3 record. A product of the American Kickboxing Academy (home to UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, as well as Bellator light heavyweight title contender "King Mo" Lawal), he had no wins over recognizable names on his professional record before tonight and entered a sizable underdog. He fought twice on Strikeforce preliminary cards in 2010, losing both fights to Josh McDonald and eventual UFC washout Chris Cope.
Koppenhaver has kept his name in the news, but not from his exploits in the cage. War Machine has two stints in jail to his name and recently drummed up controversy earlier by boasting that he had "raped" his girlfriend, pornographic actress Christy Mack, and stating "real men rape."
Keslar is now in line to face off with former lightweight title contender and former Olympic Judoka Rick Hawn. The next step from there, however, is murky, given the awkward free agency situation involving Bellator's current welterweight champion Ben Askren.
Koppenhaver, meanwhile, may or may not remain with Bellator.