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 five newcomers from UFC 163.

Viscardi Andrade — first-round TKO victory over Bristol Marunde

It’s not often anymore that The Ultimate Fighter reality series delivers a solid prospect, especially one who didn’t even make the finals of his season of the show. That could change with Viscardi Andrade’s entry into the Octagon. Andrade needed less than two minutes to dispose of another TUF alum, Bristol Marunde.

The 29-year-old is a highly decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, but his striking was on display on TUF Brazil 2 and in his UFC debut. The fact that Andrade can land knockout blows in a stand-up exchange or tie his opponent in knots on the mat makes him a dual threat. Against Marunde, Andrade demonstrated that his power is still intact even when he’s backing up. He was able to rock Marunde several times before finishing him off. Furthermore, Andrade stuffed Marunde’s takedown attempt and kept the fight where he wanted it.

The majority of Andrade’s official losses have come against significant competition, but he struggled to qualify for the TUF house and lost via TKO in the semifinals. Although his performance against Marunde was impressive, Marunde has yet to secure a win inside the Octagon and defines the type of opponent that Andrade could feast on throughout his Octagon career. What Andrade needs to prove is that he can step up and beat someone further up the welterweight ladder. He’s struggled to do so thus far in his career. His UFC tenure might last more than a couple of fights, but unless he can break through to the next level, his highlight reel will be full of impressive wins against mid-tier competition.

Potential: Medium

Francimar Barroso — unanimous decision victory over Ednaldo Oliveira

Nova Uniao is well-known among the UFC fan base for its lighter fighters, including champions Jose Aldo and Renan Barao, as well as Hacran Dias. However, the fight camp does have fighters above the lightweight threshold, including light heavyweight Francimar Barroso. “Bodao” rode a 15-3 record into his UFC debut and exited with a victory over Ednaldo Oliveira.

Barroso combines a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with a kickboxing background, making him another Brazilian who is just as dangerous standing as he is on the ground. Barroso debuted in 2005 and has only suffered one loss since 2008. Troubling, however, is the fact that his three previous losses came via some form of knockout. In a 205-pound division full of powerful strikers, a weak chin won’t take a fighter very far.

Despite a significant disadvantage in reach, Barroso was able to avoid Oliveira’s strikes and land kicks to the body and legs of his taller opponent. Barroso’s combination of kicks, punches and takedowns was enough to secure him a unanimous nod. The win came on short notice, so perhaps Barroso would have been even more dominant had he had a full camp. The problem is that he didn’t demonstrate any skills that will take him to the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division.

Barroso does tend to score finishes, with this fight marking only the second time he has gone the distance. Once he gets comfortable inside the Octagon, he should start finishing fights. The elite camp he works with also bolsters his chances for success at the top levels of the sport. However, he didn’t display exceptional takedown defense and could find himself in plenty of bad spots against the division’s better wrestlers. Barroso could serve as a low-level gatekeeper, but don’t expect him to enter into the title mix unless he shows surprising improvement in his next outing.

Potential: Low to Medium

Amanda Nunes — first-round TKO victory over Sheila Gaff

Established bantamweight female competitors continue to flood into the Octagon. The latest addition to the roster is Amanda Nunes. Debuting in front of her countrymen in Brazil, Nunes needed less than a round to dispose of German Sheila Gaff via TKO.

Nunes, who made her pro debut in 2008, has long been known as a striker. Seven of her eight victories have come by some form of knockout and she has only been to a decision once (a loss to Sarah D’Alelio under the Invicta banner). Against Gaff, Nunes demonstrated improved wrestling that helped her gain the upper hand on the mat before landing the fight-ending blows.

Prior to her Octagon debut, Nunes already had a resume that featured finishes of top fighters Vanessa Porto, Ediane Gomes and Julia Budd. She went the distance with D’Alelio and lost via TKO to Alexis Davis. That’s a lot of high-level competition for a UFC newcomer, and the victories over Gomes and Budd prove that she can even hang with top-10 featherweights. Gaff was a smaller foe and definitely one who lacks an adequate ground game of her own, but Nunes didn’t have to step into the eight-sided cage and prove herself against a top contender—she has already done that elsewhere. What she needed to prove was that she can add new facets to her game. In that regard, she succeeded.

At just 25 years of age, Nunes has plenty of time to further expand her wrestling repertoire and climb into title contention. Even if she never captures a title, she’s likely to maintain the role of a gatekeeper to the women’s bantamweight division’s upper tier.

Potential: Medium to High

Jose Maria Tome — second-round TKO loss to John Lineker

Any time a new fighter enters the Octagon with an impressive record the likes of Jose Maria Tome’s career mark, the question is whether the fighter is truly a legitimate top guy or a fighter who built his record on the basis of excessively favorable match-ups on the regional circuit. In his UFC debut, Tome proved to be the former despite a second-round TKO loss to John Lineker.

The 31-year-old sported a 33-3 record, including 28 stoppage wins, coming into his fight with Lineker, but one would be hard-pressed to find many recognizable names on the flyweight’s resume. In fact, the only well-known adversary Tome had faced prior to Lineker was Jussier “Formiga” da Silva, whom Tome lost to via first-round submission in a 2008 bout. Although he doesn’t have a long list of fights against the division’s best, Tome has been very effective at stopping his opponents no matter where the fight goes. With 15 wins by some form of knockout and 13 by submission, Tome has proven to be a very well-rounded fighter.

Tome’s downfall against Lineker appeared to be a leg injury suffered during a striking exchange. Tome fell to the mat while briefly grabbing his leg. This left him open to a barrage of powerful strikes at the hands of Lineker that brought an end to the contest. Prior to tweaking his leg, however, Tome was able to stand toe-to-toe with Lineker. He landed a spinning backfist early in the contest that rocked Lineker, but he was maybe a bit too cautious in not pouncing on his rattled opponent despite connecting on a follow-up shot that wobbled Lineker once again.

Despite his success in rocking Lineker, Tome did not get the best of most of the striking exchanges and had little success in getting his opponent to the mat. The fact that he wasn’t completely overwhelmed by Lineker on the feet was an encouraging sign, and his well-rounded game should allow him to remain competitive whether he’s taking on a striker who can stuff his shots or a grappler who wants the fight on the mat.

The UFC would be crazy to part ways with Tome after just a single loss. The Brazilian is a borderline top-10 flyweight and could figure into the title picture in the near future if he’s able to rebound from his loss. Remember, Lineker was similarly unsuccessful in his UFC debut against Louis Gaudinot, but has since bounced back with wins over Yasuhiro Urushitani, Azamat Gashimov and now Tome. Tome is quite capable of accomplishing the same turnaround and there are plenty of intriguing potential bouts out there for him inside the Octagon.

Potential: Medium to High

Thiago “Marreta” Santos — first-round submission loss to Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira

It’s hard to judge a fighter on 47 seconds worth of a fight, but that’s all that Thiago “Marreta” Santos gave us in his official UFC debut. The TUF Brazil 2 alum was rocked early by Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira, who then pressed forward and secured a fight-ending guillotine choke.

Marreta’s UFC prospects look rather dire at this point. In the TUF Brazil 2 reality series, he was only able to advance to the quarterfinals before dropping a unanimous decision to Leonardo Santos. Furthermore, he only edged his way into the house with a majority decision over Gil Freitas. With the loss to Mutante, Marreta’s official record shows him at just 1-2 through his last three fights. He was stopped via submission after being dazed by strikes in the loss to Mutante and suffered a TKO defeat at the hands of Vicente Luque, whose career mark sits at a rather unimpressive 6-4, in 2012.

Marreta’s chin seems questionable at this point and this fight against Mutante was likely his one chance to prove that he belongs in the UFC. With his quick loss and his recent defeats, both outside and inside the Zuffa organization, it’s likely that Marreta will see a pink slip in his near future. With a few wins, he could receive a return invite for a Brazilian-based UFC event, but it’s doubtful that he’ll ever establish a foothold with the promotion.

Potential: Low

Photo: Amanda Nunes (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)