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HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii mixed martial arts fighter who pleaded no contest to a charge of assaulting his wife, UFC fighter Rachael Ostovich Berdon, has been sentenced to four years of probation.
A judge sentenced Arnold Berdon on Thursday after hearing from Ostovich Berdon, who said, "I do have the power to move forward, walking in forgiveness and I have."
Deputy Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rawson had asked for five years in prison.
Ostovich Berdon filed for a temporary restraining order in November, alleging her husband punched her in the head, face and ribs. He hit her after a night out with family and she fell to the ground, gasped for air and escaped through a balcony, according to her petition for an order of protection. She said she coughed up blood and threw up several times.
"This wasn't a single act, it wasn't a single punch. This was a sustained brutal assault," Rawson said, adding that a portion of it was recorded by a bystander. "For nearly 10 minutes, the defendant assaulted the victim while she begged for him to stop."
After jumping over the balcony, Ostovich Berdon ran to her sister-in-law's house, Rawson said.
It wasn't the first incident of domestic violence, Rawson said.
Berdon listened to the audio the bystander recorded and was "deeply troubled by what he heard," said his defense attorney, Myles Breiner. Berdon loves his wife, Breiner said.
"Granted, they both had been drinking that night, but it doesn't change the fact that although both of them are professional mixed martial arts fighters and intoxicated, the fact that it rose to the level that his wife had to jump off the balcony ... to run for safety, still troubles Arnold," Breiner said. "He thinks about it all the time."
Breiner noted that Ostovich Berdon didn't ask for any additional jail time.
Police initially arrested Berdon on a charge of second-degree attempted murder. Prosecutors later charged him with second-degree assault.
"You really hurt your wife, you hurt your family," said Judge Trish Morikawa.
The judge gave him credit for two days he spent in jail and said Berdon doesn't need additional time behind bars to be motivated to do the right thing.
After pleading no contest to assault in March, Berdon said he wanted to spare his family from a legal battle.
Following the incident, Ostovich Berdon dropped out of a January UFC Fight Night match against Paige VanZant but later decided to go through with it, saying she was healing. VanZant made Ostovich Berdon tap out to an armbar in the second round. Their bout in New York was part of the first card aired by ESPN-plus under a new deal with UFC.
Berdon has fought for some minor MMA promotions.
The couple's divorce decree was filed Wednesday, with full custody of the couple's 6-year-old daughter going to Ostovich Berdon, Breiner said. Berdon will have supervised visits with his daughter and will ask for reconsideration of custody after completing anger management and domestic violence intervention classes, Breiner said.
"I thank my wife for being strong for my daughter," Berdon said.
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