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 Fox 8.

Germaine de Randamie — split decision win over Julie Kedzie

The UFC is still in the phase of developing its 135-pound women’s division where it is introducing its fans to even the top tier of women’s bantamweight competitors, plus some who are moving up or down in weight to gain entry into the Octagon. Among those making the drop from featherweight is Germaine de Randamie. The Dutch kickboxer made her promotional debut at UFC on Fox 8 against established veteran fighter and Invicta commentator Julie Kedzie and did just enough to edge out Kedzie on two of the three judges’ scorecards.

De Randamie is undefeated through 37 fights as a kickboxer. She displayed those skills in her striking exchanges and in the clinch against Kedzie. Although her striking is her bread and butter, she’s beginning to craft a more well-rounded skill set with the assistance of the coaching staff at American Kickboxing Academy. Whereas she lost to Julia Budd in 2011 in just her fourth pro MMA bout and lost her pro debut to the much smaller Vanessa Porto, de Randamie has now defeated highly ranked featherweight Hiroko Yamanaka and the tough Kedzie in back-to-back outings.

The Dutch fighter benefited from Kedzie’s willingness to stand for large portions of their fight. Kedzie, however, was able to score several takedowns and even convinced one judge that she did enough to win. Granted, de Randamie is improving as a mixed martial artist, but if Kedzie’s strategy had attacked de Randamie’s deficiencies with more persistence, the fight could have tilted in the New Mexico fighter’s favor instead. On the feet, de Randamie, a multiple-time world champion kickboxer, is going to get the better of many of her opponents, but in her grappling is where adversaries could find holes in her game.

Considering that de Randamie had trouble defending against Kedzie’s takedowns, it’s difficult to see her doing much better against judo players like Ronda Rousey or wrestlers like Miesha Tate. Even Cat Zingano and Liz Carmouche have more well-rounded skill sets that will allow them to dominate de Randamie unless the kickboxer lands a powerful knockout blow. The 29-year-old de Randamie is skilled enough to play the role of a gatekeeper to the contender mix, but don’t expect her to challenge for the title any time soon. If she keeps working with AKA and develops better takedown defense, she could eventually turn into a true threat within the division.

Potential: Medium

Julie Kedzie — split decision loss to Germaine de Randamie

Many fans of women’s MMA can trace their interest in female fighting to a February night in 2007 when Julie Kedzie fought Gina Carano. Now, Kedzie is finally realizing her dream of fighting inside the famed Octagon. In her UFC debut, however, things didn’t go quite as well as she would have hoped. Kedzie ended up on the wrong end of a razor-thin split decision against Germaine de Randamie.

Kedzie’s real fault in this fight was her willingness to stand with the highly decorated kickboxer. This is even more perplexing considering that Kedzie trains under the tutelage of Greg Jackson, a master strategist. Kedzie was outclassed on her feet and was out-muscled in the clinch. She is a third-degree black belt in taekwondo, but her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills should have been the focal point of her offense versus de Randamie. She still managed a split decision and had she utilized takedowns more frequently throughout the contest, the nod could have gone in her direction.

Kedzie is a fine representative of the women’s side of the sport and has established herself in the broadcast booth as well. This was only her second fight in the last two years, but the loss puts her on a three-fight skid overall and leaves her at just 2-4 over her last six outings. The 32-year-old could carve out a niche for herself as a gatekeeper at the same level as de Randamie. After all, Kedzie has suffered her recent losses against high-level competition such as Alexis Davis, Miesha Tate, Kaitlin Young and de Randamie, while also notching wins over Young and Sarah D’Alelio.

Will Kedzie make a run at the title? Probably not, though perhaps a more consistent schedule of fights will benefit her chances and allow her to get in the groove. The one thing she will do is prove herself as a tough veteran test for any aspiring fighters looking to prove their worth to the UFC brass. She won’t win all of her fights inside the Octagon, but she will win enough to keep her spot on the roster.

Potential: Medium

Trevor Smith — split decision loss to Ed Herman

The key to impressing UFC President Dana White and company isn’t always to win. It’s to entertain. A granite chin is one asset that greatly enhances any fighter’s odds of entertaining, and Trevor Smith seems to have one. He wasn’t able to conquer UFC vet Ed Herman, but his striking exchanges with the more seasoned Octagon warrior proved that Smith belongs on the big stage.

There’s one thing that may prevent him from sticking around, however, and that’s his recent record. Although 10-4 overall, Smith is now 1-3 over his last four fights. Before losing via split decision to Herman on Saturday night, Smith had suffered a submission loss to Tim Kennedy and a TKO courtesy of the fists of Gian Villante, with both fights taking place under the Strikeforce banner.

Smith packs a lot of power in his punches, and it was surprising that he barely staggered Herman throughout their contest. The one time he had Herman significantly hurt, Smith seemed to lack the killer instinct to go in for the finish.

Despite his strong striking effort against Herman, Smith is a grappler by nature. He has scored all but one of his victories via submission. However, he largely abandoned the grappling game in favor of the stand-up versus Herman. This could be due to Herman’s own submission acumen, however.

The one thing that goes in Smith’s favor is his ability to put on a good show. Along with Herman, Smith took home a bonus for his efforts and should get at least one more opportunity in the eight-sided cage. His wild striking exchanges could earn him a run along the lines of Leonard Garcia, but he doesn’t appear to have the striking or grappling to dominate many of the UFC’s better middleweights. The UFC could pair him with other entertaining mid-tier fighters and hope for a repeat of Smith’s performance against Herman, but if the promotion matches him against top competition, Smith’s record is only going to look worse with each fight.

Potential: Low to Medium

Jessica Andrade — second-round TKO loss to Liz Carmouche

Whereas the other three newcomers from the UFC on Fox 8 card took part in split decision outcomes, Jessica Andrade was not so lucky. The Brazilian was battered by Liz Carmouche en route to a second-round TKO loss.

The 21-year-old Andrade couldn’t keep pace with Carmouche throughout the fight. Although she had a moment or two where she gained the upper hand, Andrade was more often at the mercy of “Girl-Rilla.” Carmouche was able to take Andrade down on several occasions, transitioned with relative ease and eventually pummeled Andrade with strikes to bring an end to the contest.

With the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division still in its early stages, all of the fighters we’re currently seeing should be secure in their place with the promotion until they go on a two- or three-fight skid. Andrade is very young, as well, which allows for plenty of growth in her skill set in the years to come. She has suffered previous losses to Kinberly Novaes and Jennifer Maia, while also notching wins over Duda Yankovich and Milana Dudieva, but she has also seen many of her victories come against relatively unknown opposition.

Andrade’s youth and a well-rounded skill set could allow her to succeed in the future, but the possible match-ups for her all look grim. She’ll be fighting the cream of the crop in the UFC, and most of those ladies will either get the better of her in striking exchanges or follow Carmouche’s blueprint with takedowns and transitions that leave Andrade on her back taking punishment.

It’s too early to rule the Brazilian out completely as a future contender, but she may have to endure another tour of the regional circuit in Brazil before she’s at the proper level to compete inside the Octagon.

Potential: Low to Medium

Photo: Germaine de Randamie (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)