Ex-wife comes out to support fighter discharged from military for spousal abuse
The assault charges a former UFC fighter pleaded guilty to in military court were more severe than what actually happened, according to his victim.
Will Chope’s ex-wife Ashley said in a joint video Tuesday that the incident described in an Air Force Court of Appeals document was "completely different" than reality. Chope was pulled from his fight March 23 against Diego Brandao in Brazil and released by the UFC after it was reported by Bleacher Report just hours before the bout that Chope was discharged from the Air Force after repeated spousal abuse five years ago.
The document described how Chope threatened Ashley with a knife, slammed her head against the wall and muffled her cries of help with a pillow or blanket. It also stated that it wasn’t the first time Chope assaulted her.
"It wasn’t similar to my testimony or Will’s," Ashley said as she sat next to Chope. "It was almost as if the prosecutors and [Chope’s] defendant had kind of meshed both sides of our stories together. They also seemed to just try and find out what will he plead guilty to without even telling him what I testified to."
Chope, 23, said he took a plea deal, because if he fought the individual charges, he would be faced with even more time in jail. Chope’s sentence was five months in confinement (military prison) at the base in Guam and a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force. Chope also told FOX Sports last week that the charges were sensationalized.
"I just didn’t fight it, because that’s how the court system works," Chope said. "I had to play their game."
Chope, who now lives and trains in Thailand, returned the United States last week after his fight was canceled. He and Ashley took their 5-year-old daughter to Disney World and they filmed the video when they returned. Chope is remarried, has another child and he and Ashley are "good friends" now. Ashley described them as "a team."
"They don’t even know the person that he is today and the person that I’ve known for the past nine years," Ashley said. "He’s a wonderful person. He deserves to be judged on the man he is now instead of wrongfully judged on the person he used to be."
Chope, who was 18 at the time of the incident, said he understood why the UFC had to cut him. But he’s hoping, with the help of Ashley’s words, the organization will change its mind and bring him back.
"It’s my dream to be in the UFC," Chope said. "I want to be the best fighter in the world. That’s what I want to do. I know that’s a long shot, but the only way I’m gonna do that is if I’m in the UFC. So I hope they reconsider."
Added Ashley: "He paid the debt for those actions. He has more than proved himself to be a changed man."