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 four newcomers from UFC on FX 7.

Ildemar Alcantara — second-round submission victory over Wagner Prado

Unlike his debuting cohorts at UFC on FX 7, Ildemar Alcantara, the younger brother of UFC bantamweight Iuri Alcantara, emerged with his hand raised. That doesn’t mean the win came easy, however. Alcantara locked in a kneebar on Wagner Prado in the second round to coax a tapout, but Prado connected with plenty of big blows earlier in the fight.

Alcantara was coming into the fight on short notice, and he tends to compete at middleweight rather than light heavyweight. That, combined with the nerves of making his first Octagon appearance, could have factored into his less than impressive opening stanza. Alcantara didn’t show much in the way of head movement, and he didn’t do a great job of covering up as he let Prado get inside and land numerous punches. Alcantara did display a strong chin in absorbing those blows, but eventually he’ll run into fighters with more power and he won’t be so lucky.

Alcantara’s resume suggests he’s more than capable of finishing a fight on the feet or on the ground, but his striking looked far from crisp throughout the fight. He landed some knees to the Prado’s body, but they didn’t look all that powerful. Meanwhile, Alcantara had a difficult time maximizing his reach advantage and landing jabs from range. Despite the fact that fighter databases list him at 185 pounds, Alcantara looked like he’d have an easier time bulking up to heavyweight than dropping back down to middleweight. The speed with which he threw his strikes was also closer to resembling that of a heavyweight. However, oddly enough, Alcantara actually has a drop to welterweight in mind.

Alcantara’s takedowns were mostly successful, but he’ll be contending with a wrestler-heavy 205-pound division if he chooses to stay in the weight class. His takedowns will be more easily stuffed by opponents with a deeper background in wrestling. And on the mat, Alcantara, despite six career submission wins, did not look aggressive and took too many risks. Sure, he won with the kneebar, but he did nothing from top position in the closing seconds of the first round and he lost top position in the second stanza when he went for a very loose D’arce choke. Alcantara’s kneebar attempt was a matter of patience and Prado’s own lack of positional awareness, but he was getting pounded while on his back. Again, a more savvy opponent than Prado would have ended the fight via ground-and-pound before Alcantara could have set up that finish.

There were several factors—notably fighting at a heavier weight and coming in on short notice—that could have contributed to Alcantara’s less-than-stellar showing. The positive news for the Brazilian is that he emerged victorious. There’s a good chance that his sophomore appearance could come at 170 pounds, and perhaps fighting at welterweight will equate to more speed in Alcantara’s hands and a more active ground game. If that’s the case, Iuri’s younger brother could carve out a spot for himself in the mid-tier realm of the UFC’s welterweight roster. At the same time, it could leave him drained, and his original home at 185 pounds could turn out to be the sweet spot. One thing’s for sure, though: if he stays at 205, his performance suggests nothing more than a lower-tier fighter who might see one or two more UFC fights, but nothing more.

Potential: Low to Medium

Pedro Nobre — no-contest versus Iuri Alcantara

When a fighter’s debut ends on a no-contest or a disqualification, it’s hard to say what could have been. And when the end comes as quickly as it did in the fight between the debuting Pedro Nobre and Iuri Alcantara, in his first fight at 135 pounds after previously competing as a featherweight, it’s difficult to fully assess the future potential of Nobre.

Nobre is a fighter who tends to win utilizing his striking, but can also get things done on the mat. Entering into the Octagon, the 26-year-old had gone 3-1-1 after starting his career with an 11-0-1 stretch. Nobre’s misfortune came in fighting the much larger Alcantara, a powerful fighter who quickly attacked Nobre with a kick and a flying knee.

Nobre’s striking attack featured quick in and out movement, and he wasn’t afraid to eat Alcantara’s punches to land some of his own. Once he went to the mat with Alcantara, he was able to defend well against a kimura attempt and didn’t seem fazed by Alcantara’s size. But once Alcantara flattened him out, Nobre was unable to avoid taking numerous strikes and looked to be on his way to a TKO loss.

Some of the strikes landed by Alcantara were considered to be to the back of Nobre’s head, and the fight ended as a no-contest when Nobre was unable to continue.

Nobre’s quick in-and-out striking attack and his ability to scramble on the mat could allow him to pick up some UFC wins, but he might be a prime candidate to consider a move to flyweight. Beyond Alcantara’s proven talent, it was size that played a huge factor in where Nobre ended up prior to the questionable shots. If Nobre can compete with fighters closer to his own size, he will fare much better.

Potential: Low to Medium

Lucas Martins — first-round submission loss to Edson Barboza

Although all of the newcomers at UFC on FX 7 had tough challenges in front of them, it was Lucas Martins likely facing the most intimidating task of all in locking horns with Edson Barboza.

Martins, a 12-0 fighter entering the bout and a product of the Chute Boxe camp, was able to hang with Barboza on the feet for approximately two-and-a-half minutes before submitting to punches after being dropped by a left hand from Barboza.

It could have been Barboza’s speed and power that contributed most to making Martins look like something less than a UFC-caliber fighter. However, Martins didn’t demonstrate anything but a rather average striking game. The lightweight division is filled with strong wrestlers and quick strikers, both of which will spell doom for Martins. After the loss to Barboza, it won’t be a surprise to see Martins receive a pink slip. He’ll have to work his way back into the UFC fold, and if he does somehow receive another opportunity before being released, then he’ll have to prove that his striking really is better than it looked against Barboza.

Potential: Low

Daniel Sarafian — split decision loss to C.B. Dollaway

Daniel Sarafian was originally set to make his UFC debut as a finalist of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil before an injury forced him to withdraw. Instead of fighting to be an Ultimate Fighter, Sarafian instead found himself competing against a former TUF finalist in C.B. Dollaway.

Dollaway’s words to his corner in between rounds summed up both the good and the bad of the Brazilian: His strength and power.

Sarafian displayed excellent movement on his feet in the early moments of the fight. He remained active and rocked Dollaway with a punch on several occasions. His punching power was clearly on display, but so was his strength in stuffing Dollaway’s takedown attempts. Sarafian, who holds a majority of his victories by way of submission, looked like he was on his way to proving that he was as deadly on the feet as he is on the mat.

Then came the second and third rounds.

Although Sarafian still took the upper hand as the second round got underway, he faded as it progressed. Once the third round rolled around, Dollaway was able to find more success in landing punches to Sarafian’s face and scooping him up for the takedown. When Sarafian fades, his takedown defense suffers, he doesn’t keep his hands up and he stops bouncing around on his feet. All of those changes in his game turned him from a dynamic and powerful fighter to a stationary target for Dollaway.

Sometimes bigger, more muscular fighters can have issues with cardio, and that looked to be the case with Sarafian. He may have been able to use his superior skills in the past to overcome his adversaries, regardless of the duration of the bout, but in facing UFC-caliber fighters, Sarafian will have to either have to go for finishes early or work to dramatically improve his gas tank. If he can’t turn in first-round stoppages, he will likely turn into a gatekeeper for the middleweight division, allowing anyone entry who can withstand his strength long enough to see him tire.

Potential: Medium

Photo: Daniel Sarafian (Patrick Formosinho/Dentro do Ringue)

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