Well-known heavyweight fighter Lavar Johnson is headed to jail.
According to a report by ABC 30 in Fresno, a Fresno County judge sentenced the mixed martial arts veteran to five years in prison following a domestic violence incident after brutally beating his girlfriend of seven years. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Johnson admitted to the beating, which occurred on August 11, after a drunken confrontation.
The descriptions of the assault are unsettling, as Johnson allegedly slammed his girlfriend's head against a wall and the ground, and struck her repeatedly with knees and a closed fist. On Johnson's behalf, friends made pleas for a lighter sentence, arguing that the incident was well out of character.
"It does appear there were times when Mr. Johnson could have stopped this offense," Judge Glenda Allen-Hill told the court. "That he could have not inflicted the amount of damage that he inflicted on his victim, but he did not."
Johnson has competed under the Strikeforce, UFC and Bellator banners, most recently appearing at Bellator 123 in September 2014, when he lost to Cheick Kongo via first-round submission. Johnson has had other incidents outside the cage in his MMA career, which spans back to early-2004.
He was in trouble in 2007 for a separate domestic abuse incident, serving 30 days in jail and having to undergo alcohol counseling. He was among five people shot in Bakersfield in 2009 during a family gathering, which left one member of his party dead. Though he was in critical condition and had to have his appendix removed, he was able to recover and resume his fighting career. Spanning back to UFC 146, Johnson lost five of his last six bouts, all but one of them coming via a finish.