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 look at the fighters who made their Octagon debuts and provide impressions on their performances and their future potential under the UFC banner. In this edition, we focus on the three newcomers from UFC on Fox 4.

John Moraga (11-1) – defeated Ulysses Gomez via TKO in Rd. 1

Moraga (R) celebrates as Gomez looks on (MMA Fighting)

The first fight on the UFC on Fox 4 prelims featured a pair of newcomers to the Octagon. Ulysses Gomez was expected to make a strong showing given the fan praise when the UFC signed him. However, it would be John Moraga who seized the opportunity to impress the UFC brass.

Moraga sports only a single loss on his record, a loss to Ultimate Fighter winner John Dodson. Fans were expecting Moraga to engage Gomez on the mat, as Moraga brought with him five submission victories.  After his loss to Dodson, Moraga had won four straight bouts including three via tapout. Moraga was a former Rage in the Cage and Trilogy Championship Fighting bantamweight champion.

Gomez brought with him a two-fight winning streak and experience through a number of bigger promotions. Gomez has fought for Tachi Palace, Bellator, and now the UFC.  Gomez was also the first-ever Tachi Palace bantamweight champion and had never been stopped in a MMA bout.

A relative unknown to most MMA fans, Moraga made a lot of noise with his impressive stoppage of Gomez. The fight took place entirely on the feet and had a violent ending.  Moraga dropped Gomez with a combination of elbows and punches.

It was a brief encounter which didn’t tell us much about either man and both should be back in the Octagon for another round.

Potential for Moraga: Medium

Potential for Gomez: Medium

Wagner Prado (8-0-0-1) – Ended in a No Contest against Phil Davis

Prado suffered an eyepoke that spoiled his debut (MMA Fighting)

After making his pro debut in 2009, Wagner Prado put together eight straight victories with only one going to a decision. Prado didn’t draw an easy fight for his UFC debut. Phil Davis was in the midst of the UFC light heavyweight title picture against Rashad Evans only one fight prior.

Going against someone with the wrestling caliber of Davis would’ve no doubt tested Prado’s takedown defense and could be considered one of the toughest opponents to draw in an UFC debut ever.

Prado started the fight off in good fashion by landing a strong punch, but it would be the only action of the fight. Davis went to push off with his left hand, but poked Prado in the eye. Prado’s eye had blood flowing from it, and he even admitted he was seeing double. That was enough for the referee to call the fight and Prado’s long trip to the Octagon ended before it even began.

The UFC is already targeting a rematch at UFC on FX 5, provided Prado’s eye isn’t seriously damaged. The fight is a great match-up of striker vs. grappler, and Prado is a top-notch prospect who should be on the radar of every UFC fan given his striking prowess.

Potential: High

Photo: John Moraga (L) battles Ulysses Gomez (MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.