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 on Fox 5.

Abel Trujillo — second-round TKO victory over Marcus LeVesseur

It’s not often that a fighter making his Octagon debut demonstrates such a well-rounded skill set. But after Trujillo lost out on a knockout opportunity versus original opponent Tim Means (a sauna beat Trujillo to the punch—pardon the pun—on that one), the newcomer was matched against another lightweight, Marcus LeVesseur, who lost his original opponent just a week earlier.

Trujillo’s takedown defense was the first and most important test. LeVesseur won four NCAA Div. III national wrestling championships, went 155-0 in college and sustained a 296-0 run in amateur wrestling from the time of his last high school loss and the end of his collegiate career. Trujillo, a four-time NAIA All-American, is no slouch in the wrestling department either, but in order to win this outing, he’d have to first and foremost stuff a top-notch wrestler. He did so with relative ease, and even turn it into his own form of offense by delivering elbows to LeVesseur’s head when the Minnesotan had him pinned against the cage and landing a devastating knee as LeVesseur shot in for Trujillo’s legs.

Trujillo’s offense in those difficult spots helped to rock LeVesseur and leave him defenseless against further punishment. Trujillo was able to land the better strikes, get his own takedowns, control LeVesseur on the mat and land vicious knees while LeVesseur turtled up. It was all a great sign of Trujillo’s potent skill set and his confidence in the cage.

Trujillo showed that he could handle the high-level wrestling that he’s sure to see more of during his UFC stint. He also demonstrated an aggressive attack that didn’t allow his opponent a chance for recovery. LeVesseur didn’t really test Trujillo’s technique in the stand-up, nor did he threaten Trujillo with submissions, so it’s still to be seen whether the “Killa” has holes in those aspects of his game.

Training with the Blackzilians will surely give the lightweight newcomer a great chance at advancing far in his UFC career. However, his grappling abilities might be of concern when he fights submission specialists. Trujillo has twice succumbed to first-round submissions and does have four total losses outside of the UFC, so he still has a lot to prove inside the Octagon. Getting that first fight out of the way is huge for his prospects, and his performance was nothing less than impressive.

The previous losses on his record suggest that he could struggle with the likes of the Benson Henderson’s, Donald Cerrone’s and Gray Maynard’s of the lightweight division. However, he projects as a solid mid-tier mainstay fighter in the UFC’s ranks at the very least.

Potential: Medium

Photo: Abel Trujillo (L) delivers knees to the body of Marcus LeVesseur to eventually end their UFC on Fox 5 fight (Tracy Lee/Combat Lifestyle)

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