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 152, Roger Hollett.

Roger Hollett (13-4)—lost to Matt Hamill via unanimous decision

To say that Roger Hollett’s Octagon debut was a disappointment would be an understatement.  Going from fighting under the Bellator banner to being part of the pay-per-view portion of a major UFC event brings with it a high amount of expectations.  That’s even more so when you’re a fighter with only three losses through 16 professional appearances and carry a five-fight winning streak. Yet, for all that, Hollett’s performance left many wondering how he made it into the Octagon in the first place.

From the onset, it was apparent that Hollett was out of place.  The light heavyweight fighter looked stiff and uncomfortable as he engaged with Matt Hamill for an agonizing fifteen minutes.  Hollett didn’t display the stance of a man comfortable in his striking, and often left his hands low.  If he had been facing an opponent still in his prime, rather than a returning veteran attempting to shake off a year’s worth of ring rust, that failure to keep his hands up and his chin tucked could have cost him.

Meanwhile, Hollett wilted immediately when the fight hit the canvas.  If the Canadian was considered a pure striker, this would have been expected.  However, he’s a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has seven submissions in his career (two have come via strikes, but the remaining five came by way of technical submission holds).  As an experienced grappler, Hollett should have been more active when taken down.  Hamill might feature a ground-and-pound attack, but there were openings, especially after Hamill punched himself out early in the outing, for Hollett to at least attempt to roll for a submission.

Finally, there’s Hollett’s cardio.  While neither Hollett or Hamill looked particularly ready to go the full fifteen, Hollett, with his build, conjured images of Rodney Wallace, another former UFC light heavyweight hopeful whose strength might have also spelled his biggest weakness. True, Hollett took a beating in the first round, but it’s hard to imagine that he would have looked much better in the third frame even if the first had not gone so poorly.

It would not be surprising to see Hollett exit the UFC after just this one outing, though a return might have been earned simply due to his willingness to step up as a late replacement for the guy who initially replaced him in this match-up.  Unless he comes into that next fight looking like a completely different fighter, or impresses in another extended streak on the regional circuit after receiving his UFC release, don’t expect Hollett to make many more Octagon appearances.

Potential: Low

Photo: Roger Hollett (L) swings and misses versus Matt Hamill at UFC 152 (James Law/Heavy MMA)

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