Updates from 11:07 a.m. ET, Sunday, March 23
The UFC has issued the following statement to Bleacher Report:
The Ultimate Fighting Championship released a statement this morning regarding Will Chope:
Tonight's featherweight bout between Will Chope and Diego Brandao has been canceled after UFC officials were made aware of Chope's previous military conviction. The UFC does not condone behavior of this nature whatsoever and Chope has been released from his contract.
Brandao will receive both his show and win money for the bout.
In addition to Brandao receiving both his show and win money, the promotion is also working on securing an April fight for the TUF veteran.
Updates from 10:02 a.m. ET, Sunday, March 23
Will Chope's fight against Diego Brandao on Sunday has been pulled from the UFC Fight Night card as a result of the report below, and Chope has been released from the promotion.
We'll continue to update this story with more details as we obtain them.
Will Chope, who faces Diego Brandao on Sunday night's UFC Fight Night Shogun vs. Henderson 2, was kicked out of the Air Force after assaulting his wife and threatening her with a knife in November 2009.
According to Air Force Court of Appeals documents obtained by Bleacher Report, it was not the first instance of Chope, then an Airman, assaulting his wife.
In July 2009, Chope was given nonjudicial punishment by his unit commander after repeatedly assaulting his wife upon learning of her infidelity. On Oct. 12, 2009, Chope again assaulted his wife and was told the next day not to contact her by his Master Sergeant: "...the appellant was 'to have no contact with [AW] directly or indirectly, orally or in writing,' unless he had permission from a supervisor."
On Nov. 12, 2009, Chope was given permission by the same Master Sergeant to speak with his wife by phone in order to settle financial issues involving their daughter.
According to the court record, Chope and his wife got into an argument concerning a credit card during that phone call. He asked her to pick him up at Andersen Air Force Base (in Guam) so that he could see his daughter at her home. She reluctantly did so, but during the visit they resumed the argument about the credit card. Chope told his wife that if she didn't give him the credit card, he was going to hurt her:
When AW refused, the appellant told her that he had nothing to lose and that he was going back to Florida. He then went to the kitchen, retrieved a paring knife, and threatened AW with it. He grabbed her, slammed her head onto the floor, and hit her on top of her head with both the knife handle and his hand. When AW screamed for help, the appellant took her onto the ground, and used a “pillow or blanket” to silence her screams.
His wife continued refusing to give him the credit card. The court document states that Chope kicked her in the leg when she tried to escape, but she did not give him the credit card.
Chope received a sentence of five months' confinement and a bad conduct discharge.
He appealed the sentence, claiming that it was too severe because he had the potential for rehabilitation. He also told the appeals court that he and his wife were divorced and that the conduct would not be repeated.
On Aug. 15, 2011, the appeals court denied Chope's request:
After careful consideration of the entire record and his appellate submissions, we are not persuaded by the appellant’s arguments. The appellant assaulted his wife on multiple occasions and disobeyed an order given to prevent future assaults. Contrary to the appellant’s assertions, his divorce from AW does not excuse his prior misconduct or prevent future misconduct from occurring.
Bleacher Report has reached out to the UFC for official comment, and we'll update this story with more information as we get it.