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UFC’s ‘War Machine’ won’t change his nickname after Jonathan Koppenhaver’s alleged assault

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Guilherme Cruz

BRASILIA, Brazil -- Wendell Oliveira makes his UFC debut on Saturday night, but he had to answer several questions regarding Jonathan Koppenhaver’s alleged assault of ex-girlfriend Christy Mack.

Oliveira and Koppenhaver are both known as "War Machine," and some fans thought the Brazilian veteran was the one accused of the brutal assault.

"That was awful," Oliveira told "When the news came out, a lot of friends called me asking what happened because the stories had no photo in Brazil. I’m in Brazil, he’s in the United States. We’re not the same person."

Oliveira, who is also called "Negao" by his fans and friends, doesn’t plan to get rid of the "War Machine" nickname.

"I won’t change my nickname because I’m the real ‘war machine,’" he said. "I finish my fights, that’s who I am. He’s not a ‘war machine.’ I honor this name, he doesn’t honor the sport. He has to find a new nickname for himself."

Controversies aside, the Brazilian "War Machine" is confident heading into his promotional debut against Santiago Ponzinibbio at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 51 in Brasilia, Brazil.

Oliveira signed with the promotion to replace injured Sergio Moraes on short notice, and he had no doubt when he took the fight.

"Every fighter wants to be in the UFC. This was my goal, and I know I have what it takes to be here," he said. "If they called me on Sept. 12 to fight on Sept. 13, I would do it. It’s a good fight. I’m always in shape. I got this fight on short notice, I know that, but my team got me ready to win.

"I’m sure he changed his game plan, trained for a different style now. But I’m ready. I’m ready to fight him anywhere he wants, but I will do my thing. I want him to fight my fight."

Ponzinibbio hasn’t fought since his Octagon debut, when he lost to Ryan LaFlare via unanimous decision. Oliveira watched that fight, and learned a lot from it.

"I worked a lot my cardio because it’s really important," he said. "You can’t fight hard, but last only one round. You have to be ready to fight five rounds, and I will work hard because I know he has openings in his striking and his ground game."