Former UFC fighter Josh Copeland, known as "Cuddly Bear" in mixed martial arts circles, was arrested after allegedly striking his wife in the presence of the couple's young son, People reports. According to Copeland's wife, the incident began with a disagreement about their son's eating habits and then escalated first to mutual shoving and then to Copeland striking her repeatedly. The victim's name was not included in the criminal complaint.
Copeland, 36, who is just over six feet tall and fights at 265 pounds, reportedly threw the victim to the floor after following her upstairs to their son's bedroom. She then slapped Copeland, who reportedly responded by punching her in the face before throwing her on their son's bed in close proximity to the child.
Charges include second-degree assault and domestic violence. A child abuse charge was filed as well due to the incident happening in such close proximity to their son. When police arrived, according to the complaint, the victim had a prominent bruise on one eye and was bleeding with blood running down her face and neck.
"She got up and pushed Joshua again," it says in the criminal complaint. "[She] said Joshua pushed her to the ground again, so she slapped Joshua in the face. [She] said Joshua blocked her from leaving [their son's] room and she slapped him again. [She] said Joshua then punched her in the face."
Also included in the complaint was Copeland's acknowledgment that shoving occurred, though the fighter allegedly indicated that he did not recall hitting her, but did remember carrying her down the stairs and out of the house.Per investigators, when Copeland was searched, his wife's cell phone was found in his pocket. Police said that he had taken the phone from her to keep her from calling for help. As a result, an additional charge of "obstruction of a telephone or telegraph service" was also filed.
The victim was transported to a hospital following the incident and Copeland is due in court next week.
The arrest occurred on February 2, but has been made public only now. No plea or statement from Copeland was available as of this writing.
The Professional Fighting League, the league in which Copeland fights after his departure from the UFC, released a statement in response to the news.
"The PFL has zero tolerance for matters involving domestic violence," the statement said. "Per our company policy, following his arrest, Josh Copeland has been suspended indefinitely."
Copeland's professional record is 18-6-1.