Octagon jitters—it’s an infamous term. The first time a fighter steps into the UFC’s eight-sided cage, there will always be talk of whether the emotional rush and the nerves surrounding his debut will have a profound impact on his performance.

Pundits and fans making predictions on fights will cite the jitters as a reason to doubt a fighter’s chances. And in the aftermath of a defeat, these same jitters will take part of the blame for the fighter’s downfall.

So, following each UFC event, The MMA Corner will looks at the fighters who made their Octagon debuts and provide impressions on their performances and their future potential under the UFC banner. In the debut edition, we take on double duty, as we look at Hacran Dias, Milton Vieira and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil combatants from UFC 147 and C.J. Keith, Joey Gambino and Brock Jardine from UFC on FX 4.

Hacran Dias (21-1-1)—defeated Iuri Alcantara via unanimous decision

It should tell you something when a fighter starts out as an applicant for The Ultimate Fighter but ends up signing a three-fight deal with the UFC instead. At 20-1-1 prior to his UFC debut, Hacran Dias would likely have dominated the featherweight bracket of the first season of TUF Brazil. And his performance at UFC 147 only confirms that opinion.

The Nova Uniao fighter trains alongside UFC featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo and Marlon Sandro, and he’s certainly has the talent to claim a spot as high up in the rankings at 145 as his teammates. His record features only one loss, which came via unanimous decision to Yui Chul Nam at an M-1 Challenge show on Nam’s home turf of South Korea in 2009. Since then, Dias had recorded eight wins, including several under the Shooto Brazil banner.

Unlike many debuting UFC fighters, Dias jumped right into the fire against another lightweight-turned-featherweight in Iuri Alcantara. Alcantara is a top up-and-coming fighter for the UFC, and Dias’ performance against him was impressive.

The 28-year-old is a force on the ground. He showed that against Alcantara with very effective positional control from the top, plus a tendency to look for submissions whenever Alcantara tried to take his back or gain top control. Dias also demonstrated a great ability to reverse Alcantara’s takedowns and land on top.

But perhaps the most encouraging sign from the big featherweight was his own skills at the takedown. Many Brazilian fighters have great ground games, but struggle to take their opponent down with ease. Dias had no such trouble. He scooped up Alcantara and dropped him to the mat, and even though he ultimately got stuffed, his shot for a double-leg takedown had the same power and forward surge that more commonly comes from NCAA Division I wrestlers.

Dias immediately jumped into the fray at featherweight, and he should stay there for some time to come.

Potential: High

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil competitors

We’d have to use much more space to cover every single TUF Brazil fighter competing in the Octagon for the first time. Instead, we’ll group the cast together for a quick look at some of the standouts at UFC 147.

Francisco Trindaldo (Sherdog)

Obviously, TUF Brazil winners Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira and Rony “Jason” Mariano Bezerra have punched their tickets to at least a few more fights a piece under the UFC banner. Ferreira picked up the middleweight championship with a unanimous decision over Sergio Moraes, and “Jason” took the featherweight trophy with a unanimous nod over Godofredo “Pepey” Castro. Even the losers in the finals have another contest or two ahead in the Octagon.

However, some of the most promising fighters might come from fights other than the finals.

At featherweight, Rodrigo Damm, who has a win over Jorge Masvidal and suffered losses while competing at lightweight, put on a show with his quick rear-naked choke submission of Anistavio “Gasparzinho” Medeiros. And Marcos Vinicius “Vina” Borges scored a late TKO over Wagner Campos in a fight in which both men displayed skills that could carry them to lengthy UFC tenures. John Teixeira might have lost a close decision to Hugo “Wolverine” Viana, but both could find a home in the Octagon—though Viana should shift to bantamweight.

Meanwhile, Francisco Trinaldo put on a great display in his middleweight affair with Delson Heleno. Trinaldo scored a first-round TKO of the IFL veteran to move his record to 11-1. The loss is worrisome though, as it came via submission to the much smaller Iuri Alcantara.

This inaugural season of TUF Brazil could end up going down in history as the Brazilian equivalent of the very first season of the American run of the reality series in terms of the talent it generates. It’s difficult to recall a recent season in the US-based efforts that features so many fighters with such high potential.

Potential: High

Milton Vieira (13-7-2)—fought to a split draw with Felipe Arantes

Often credited as the inventor of the anaconda choke, Brazilian Top Team’s Milton Vieira couldn’t finish his opponent, Felipe Arantes, at UFC 147. Instead, the contest ended in a controversial split draw.

Vieira has tasted the big stage before, losing to Hayato “Mach” Sakurai in a 2005 bout in Pride. While Vieira has also lost to Jake Shields, many of his seven defeats come against lesser talent.

In his UFC 147 fight with Arantes, Vieira was unable to cinch up a choke, despite a few attempts. The submission ace was also out-struck by Arantes, and arguably should have lost the fight, though the judges’ scorecards show extremely mixed opinions on the outcome.

What’s troubling here is Vieira’s lack of a finish using his famous chokes. Given he already has seven losses and is entering his mid-thirties, Vieira’s future doesn’t look bright inside the Octagon. A split draw might be just enough to earn him another go-around, but if his game is based on submissions that couldn’t even finish Arantes, how will he climb further up the ladder?

Potential: Low

C.J. Keith (8-1)—lost via first-round TKO to Ramsey Nijem

Keith entered the Octagon at UFC on FX 4 as an undefeated veteran of The Warriors Cage promotion. He left with his first loss.

Although Keith displayed a strong clinch game in the early seconds of his fight with Ramsey Nijem, the fight turned out to be more of a test of Keith’s takedown and submission defense, his ability to sprawl, scramble and transition, and his ability to overcome adversity.

While Keith did a decent job of sprawling to avoid the takedown, he couldn’t continually overcome Nijem’s attempts. Once on the ground, he did show an ability to stay active, scramble and attempt to transition to better positions. However, once Nijem mounted Keith, the fighter crumbled. Keith made some attempts to use his legs to power out of the bad spot, but he seemed overwhelmed by Nijem.

Keith looked good until he ended up on his back. If he can shore up that part of his game, he has the athleticism to hang around in the UFC—and by hang around, the mid- to lower tiers of the promotion likely project as his ceiling.

Potential: Medium

Joey Gambino (9-1)—lost via first-round guillotine choke submission to Steven Siler

Joey Gambino (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

With nine wins under his belt and the Tristar gym to call home, Joey Gambino was a no-brainer to replace Jimy Hettes at UFC on FX 4 against Steven Siler. Unfortunately for Gambino, his UFC debut resulted in his first career loss.

The 23-year-old was at a significant height disadvantage against Siler, but it was the young New Yorker’s wrestling that got him in the most trouble. Although wrestling is his strength, Gambino often put himself in dangerous positions while looking for takedowns. If a fighter keeps putting his neck out there for the taking, it’s only a matter of time before someone takes it. So was the case for Gambino, who displayed good submission defense, but gave Siler too many opportunities and paid the consequences.

The cut that Siler opened on Gambino’s face early in their bout surely did not help the youngster, and might have caused him to get careless with his takedowns. Luckily for Gambino, he’s still young and has a great camp to call home. A loss in a first outing usually means a pink slip, but Gambino came in as a late replacement, so the UFC will probably reward him with a return outing. Gambino is young and still has plenty of time to improve.

Potential: Medium

Brock Jardine (9-2)—lost via unanimous decision to Rick Story

Welterweight is not a good place to be in the UFC if you don’t have an answer for strong wrestlers. After UFC on FX 4, Jardine can testify to that.

Facing Rick Story, Jardine was thrown around, gave up his back and had little to offer on his feet. With John Hackleman in his corner, Jardine was swinging for the fences with his strikes, but he wasn’t putting together combinations effectively. Even worse, he lunged in with his single blows, leaving him open to counterstrikes and takedowns. It’s hard not to cringe when a fighter takes one gigantic swing while leaving his chin exposed. Story couldn’t capitalize on this, but it’s a guarantee that some of the UFC’s hard-swinging welterweights will.

Story did capitalize on the takedown aspect of Jardine’s off-balance strikes. And once on the mat, it was obvious that Jardine doesn’t have the build or the skills to hang with the division’s wrestlers. He might have knockout power, but Jardine is going to get thrown around like a rag doll by fighters like Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch.

Jardine was a late replacement for Papy Abedi, who in turn had stepped in to replace Rich Attonito. The UFC does tend to reward its late replacements with a second chance, but unless it matches Jardine up with a lower level player, it doesn’t seem that Jardine will fare much better.

Potential: Low

Photo: Hacran Dias (R) battles Iuri Alcantara at UFC 147 (Sherdog)