Following a defeat in his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 34 in January, long-time Asian MMA staple Will Chope was set for his second shot in the octagon after being slated to lock horns with Diego Brandao at UFC Fight Night 38 almost a fortnight ago.
But after a Bleacher Report article detailing the 23-year-old’s troubled past surfaced online just hours before his fight, Chope was scratched from the card, and subsequently released from the promotion.
The article revealed that Chope assaulted his wife, Ashley, multiple times, and threatened her with the use of a knife. The events occurred in 2008 when Chope was just 18. Although they’ve since separated, Chope maintains that the two have remained ‘close friends’ and are continuing to work together to support their daughter.
On Wednesday morning, Chope and his wife jointly released a video together, providing their respective viewpoints on the situation.
“Everybody’s thinking that this happened last week, or this happened with my current wife. But no, it was five years ago,” Chope said in a video, which can be found in its entirety below. “I’m 23. This happened when I was 18 years old, you know. It was back in 2009. A lot of things have changed since then. I’ve moved on. I’ve changed a lot.”
Ashley echoed his sentiments.
“I was honestly really shocked and surprised that all of this has come up once again,” she said. “It just really upsets me that all of this is causing so many issues for Will, at the moment, and I just want us to be able to just let it go and move on.”
Chope also voiced his displeasure on the Bleacher Report article in the video, stating that the write-up was published without the author approaching him for a comment, and that much of the Air Force Court of Appeals document cited wasn’t entirely correct.
“The journalist, he didn’t even bother to contact me, or Ashley, for our opinions or anything. So he was very tabloid and TMZ style, trying to get as many hits as he can. And he got ‘em.’”
Chope’s wife justified that plea.
“It wasn’t similar to my testimony or Will’s. It was almost as if the prosecutors and his defendant had kind of meshed both sides of our stories together, but they also seemed to figure out just ‘What will he plead guilty to?’ without even telling him what I testified to, so there was a lot I didn’t know until after I saw the documents,” she said. “Once I received them, it was already just a done deal.”
While UFC officials haven’t swayed from their decision to cut him, Chope says he regrets his actions, but is hopeful on getting a second chance. And he remains definitive that he did indeed disclose his past conviction to UFC officials prior to signing with the promotion.
As it stands, if the UFC decides not to resign him, Chope said his next MMA fight is already on the agenda. It will be in May, in Taiwan, with the Pacific Rim Organized Fighting Championship, the very promotion he fought for in his pro MMA debut.
But of course, he ultimately wants to compete in the UFC again.
“It’s my dream to fight in the UFC,” Chope said. “I want to be the best fighter in the world. I know that’s a long shot, but the only way I’m going to do that is if I’m in the UFC, so I hope they’ll reconsider.”
Check out the full video below:
*Photo credit: Mitch Viquez/Zuffa LLC