Ben Sosoli has been described as “very caring” and “humble” in court, where he is accused of a chilling assault that left a bar patron unable to eat solid food for six weeks shortly before the heavyweight’s first UFC contest.
The County Court of Victoria heard that the patron had been refused entry but evaded security guards twice at a bar in the Toorak suburb of Melbourne before Sosoli, who fights under the moniker “Combat Wombat,” walked him backward around the corner, threw him to the ground and punched his jaw.
The shuddering alleged altercation fractured the victim’s jawbone on both sides of his face and fractured three of his teeth in a harrowing set of injuries that worsened when his mouth swelled “dramatically” as he took an Uber home, prosecutor Jordan O’Toole said.
A doctor warned that the “severe” injuries risked bone fractures that would never heal following the scrap at 2.20am last September – little more than a month before Sosoli made his UFC debut in a bizarre no contest against Greg Hardy in Boston.
Sosoli pleaded guilty to one count of recklessly cause injury, although his lawyer, Zarah Garde-Wilson, said the intoxicated patron had threatened to stab security staff and hit the 30-year-old in the arm and face while he was being forcibly escorted away from the premises.
Garde-Wilson warned that a conviction and penalty for Sosoli would “likely end his career” and force the UFC to tear up the contract signed by the “devoted” father-of-five shortly before the incident.
“He’s considered a very caring, humble and generous being – quite a contrast to the majority of fighters,” said Garde-Wilson, explaining that he had pursued a UFC deal “for many, many years”.
She added that he had opened his “home and heart” to a close friend who was put into a coma after suffering an injury while fighting.
Judge Gavan Meredith said that the “highly trained” and “highly skilled” UFC newcomer would have been “well aware of the potential consequences of such a punch”.
Sosoli has won seven of his ten professional fight, launching his career in 2013 with the California-based Storm MMA.
He fought four times last year, winning in March and losing in June before suffering the first of two no contests when embattled opponent Dustin Joynson was somewhat curiously adjudged to have suffered an eye gouge during UFC president Dana White’s Contender Series in August.
Less than two months later, his decision defeat to Hardy was overturned over his rival’s illegal use of an inhaler between the second and third rounds.
“He’s had some tough goes trying to get in the UFC,” White said at the time, pledging to hand him another opportunity.
“Hopefully, the third time is the charm for this kid.”
A homecoming for Sosoli was ruined in his next fight when Marcos Rogerio de Lima knocked him out in the first round at UFC Auckland in February.