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Lawsuit claims ex-UFC fighter attacked couple ‘without provocation’

Julie and Christopher Stellpflug said they feared for their lives when they were attacked by a man in a Las Vegas hotel hallway in December.

“Am I going to die? Is this monster going to kill my wife next, and my kids will have no parents?” Christopher Stellpflug, a 48-year-old dentist from San Luis Obispo, California, said while recalling the attack during a phone interview Friday with the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

A former UFC fighter, 44-year-old Chael Sonnen, was charged this month with a felony count of battery by strangulation and 10 misdemeanor counts of battery related to the alleged attack. On Friday, Christopher and Julie Stellpflug filed a lawsuit against the former professional fighter, who they claim repeatedly punched them without provocation in a hallway of the Four Seasons, 3960 Las Vegas Boulevard South.

Attempts to reach Sonnen for comment on the lawsuit were unsuccessful.

According to the lawsuit, Christopher and Julie Stellpflug were walking back to their room on the 35th floor of the hotel at about 7:30 pm. on Dec. 18 when they saw a man in the hallway who appeared to be intoxicated, “uttering unintelligible noises.” The man, whom police later identified as Sonnen, was barefoot and wearing a torn, bloody shirt around his neck.

As the couple walked past the man, he knocked a drink out of Christopher Stellpflug’s hand, “without provocation or any communication whatsoever,” the lawsuit states.

When Julie Stellpflug told Sonnen they were heading to their room and “did not want any trouble,” the ex-UFC fighter began punching Christopher Stellpflug multiple times in the head, attorney Kory Kaplan wrote in the lawsuit.

Julie Stellpflug screamed for help as the man put her husband in a chokehold. Another hotel guest was able to pull Sonnen off Christopher Stellpflug, according to the lawsuit, but Sonnen then began elbowing the guest.

“Dr. Stellpflug, helplessly laying on the floor, then witnessed Sonnen turn his attention to Mrs. Stellpflug and viciously attack her,” Kaplan wrote.

‘Still quite terrified’

Christopher Stellpflug said the image of the man throwing his wife against a wall and punching her in the face still haunts him. Julie Stellpflug is 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 125 pounds, while Sonnen has a history of fighting middleweight and heavyweight UFC champions.

“I’m still very shaken up, and emotional, and still quite terrified actually,” Julie Stellpflug said Friday.

Julie Stellpflug, 46, fell to the floor in the hotel hallway after Sonnen threw her against the wall, according to the lawsuit. Sonnen attempted to lift the woman up by her coat, but Christopher Stellpflug grabbed her ankle “to allow her to slip out of her jacket.”

Minutes before the couple walked into the hallway, a different hotel guest was punched. The guest told police he left his room and was “randomly struck” in the jaw before he closed his room’s door and called security, according to a copy of a Metropolitan Police Department incident report obtained by the Review-Journal.

Sonnen punched several of the security guards who arrived as he was attacking the Stellpflugs, the lawsuit alleges. He also is accused of striking one security guard in the nose with his knee and kicking another in the chest before he was detained by more employees.

Julie and Christopher Stellpflug said they are still seeing doctors in California while recovering from concussions. Both were bruised, and Julie Stellpflug said she had a split lip after the attack.

The incident report indicated that five people, including the Stellpflugs, suffered “apparent minor injury.”

According to online court records, Sonnen was issued five misdemeanor citations in January, but a judge dismissed them. The felony and 1o misdemeanor battery counts were filed March 16, court records show.

A hearing in Sonnen’s criminal case is scheduled for Wednesday.

Comments on podcast

Sonnen has not spoken publicly about the matter, but his friend and fellow former fighter Brendan Schaub relayed what he claimed to be Sonnen’s version of events on his podcast.

“Some drunk guy with his girl kept making comments about (Sonnen’s wife, Brittany), saying about her (body parts) right in front of him,” Schaub said. “Well, play stupid games, win stupid prizes, cause you are talking and disrespecting one of the toughest guys on the planet and definitely one of the toughest ever to compete in the UFC or Bellator for that matter. And you’re doing it in front of his face, then there’s gonna be repercussions.”

But according to the police report, Brittany Sonnen told police she was asleep “for the entirety of the brawl.”

When police spoke with Brittany Sonnen, she said she had taken Ambien at about 4 p.m. on Dec. 18 and woke up as security guards were escorting her out of the room, the report states. An officer who authored the report indicated that Brittany Sonnen was injured, but the officer did not elaborate on her injuries.

“I then began to question Brittany on how she obtained her injuries, but she was unsure about how she obtained them,” the report states. “I then further questioned her about any possible domestic disputes or violence between her and her husband where Brittany stated that Chael has never been violent with her.”

Christopher Stellpflug said hearing the comments made on the podcast made him angry, and he wants “the truth out there.”

“I just want people to know it was a totally unprovoked attack,” he said. “We were just walking into our room to plan a sushi dinner. We did nothing wrong, and this guy went on a crazy rampage.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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