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 sole newcomer from UFC 150, Chico Camus.

Chico Camus (12-3)—defeated Dustin Pague via unanimous decision

Riding a three-fight winning streak as he stepped into the Octagon, Chico Camus continued to deliver in the win column, and remained consistent by scoring his fourth consecutive unanimous decision.

Camus’ strong suit is his striking.  The Roufusport product demonstrated as much against Pague, connecting on counters and throwing combinations that found their mark.  While the name of teammate Anthony Pettis was continually brought up during Camus’ preliminary card fight on Denver’s UFC 150, Camus didn’t have the creativity of Pettis.  Instead, his striking was more orthodox and boxing oriented. But it’s the effectiveness that counts, and Camus was definitely effective on his feet.

Chico Camus (top) battles Dustin Pague (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

The Milwaukee native’s striking also helped him set up takedowns, as he ducked under a punch from Pague to easily take him down.  Camus did look to ground-and-pound his foe on the mat, and did have some success.  His guard passes and striking attack from the top also aided in setting up a rear-naked choke opportunity for Camus in the closing seconds of the bout.

The 27-year-old couldn’t finish Pague with the submission, but the fact that he went for it with just one arm shows that he’s willing to work for the finish.  However, his record shows that he can struggle to end fights.  Nearly half of his contests have gone to the judges’ scorecards.  The good news is that Camus usually ends up with his hand raised under those circumstances.

The biggest hole in his game comes in his tendency to put himself in bad positions while grappling.  In attempting to ground-and-pound Pague or advance position, Camus put himself in danger of several chokes.  Pague couldn’t capitalize on the mistakes, but it’s not hard to imagine that bantamweights further up the pecking order will have more success in sealing the deal.

Although Camus put himself in an unnecessary amount of danger, the one positive takeaway from it came in how he handled those predicaments.  Rather than panicking, Camus displayed the patience of a veteran who had been there and done that.  He never made things worse once he found himself in Pague’s clutches.  Camus was able to avoid the rear-naked choke for an extended time with Pague on his back, and even spun around to end up in Pague’s guard.  Many newcomers would have withered when put in the same danger, but Camus turned it into a positive.

Camus’ decision win over Pague is an encouraging start to a UFC career.  His home camp of Roufusport will certainly be helpful as he progresses in his career, but Camus will definitely need to close the biggest hole in his game.  As long as he puts himself in bad spots on the mat, the upper echelon of the division will be out of his reach.

Potential: Medium

Photo: Chico Camus (Josh Davis/The MMA Corner)

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