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 six newcomers from UFC Fight Night 28.

Ivan “Batman” Jorge — unanimous decision win over Keith Wisniewski

The UFC finally lit up the bat signal, but unfortunately the promotion asked its Batman to fill in on short notice a weight class up from his natural home at lightweight. The Jungle Fight lightweight champion earned a generous unanimous decision win over Keith Wisniewski, but size was certainly a factor in his underwhelming debut performance.

The Team Tavares fighter and longtime veteran of the Brazilian circuit is a submission artist first and foremost, but he was hardly able to demonstrate that skill set against Wisniewski, whose reach and clinch game allowed him to avoid heading to the mat for longer than a few seconds.

Ivan Jorge’s biggest shortcoming in the fight was his inability to use his striking to set up takedown attempts. Instead of throwing combinations and then changing levels, Batman telegraphed his intent by going straight after Wisniewski’s legs. He was persistent and even earned a momentary takedown in the second stanza, but in that instance, he was not able to capitalize.

Of course, fighting a welterweight with a reach and size advantage didn’t help the Brazilian. Whereas he was forced to shoot for takedowns in order to avoid Wisniewski’s reach, he might be willing to mix it up more against a lightweight. Whereas he couldn’t hold Wisniewski down for a sustained amount of time, his strength and size may allow him to dominate from top position against 155-pounders. Those are questions that won’t have answers until after his sophomore appearance with the promotion.

What we saw of Batman’s stand-up was a mixed bag as well. He has a nice left hook that he combined well with kicks. Against lightweights, that hook could turn out to be a dangerous weapon. Jorge was also strong in the clinch, which was impressive when taking into account the size and skill set of his opponent. Batman put in a solid effort while in the clinch and didn’t let Wisniewski hold onto him for long. On the downside, however, Jorge tends to drop his hands while coming in to throw kicks. A counter-striker could take advantage of this and land a knockout blow.

Batman could turn out to be a force when he returns to 155 pounds while fighting inside the Octagon. He has the combination of striking and submissions to give opponents headaches, but he lacks the takedown ability to drag opponents to the ground. His vast experience should benefit him and allow him to establish a spot on the UFC roster as a low-level gatekeeper. However, if Jorge doesn’t look more dominant when he shifts back to lightweight, he could be a quick washout with the promotion.

Potential: Low to Medium

Elias Silverio — unanimous decision win over Joao Zeferino

Jungle Fight’s champions were the showcase of the night’s preliminary card. Although none of them stunned the audience with a spectacular finish, all displayed qualities that suggested that they’ll be around for at least a few more fights. The Brazilian promotion’s welterweight champion, Elias Silverio, may have been the best of the lot in his debut, though that doesn’t necessarily translate to him having the best UFC run of the bunch.

The striker was met with the challenge of facing Joao Zeferino, a grappler with an adequate striking game of his own. Zeferino repeatedly shot for takedowns, but Silverio demonstrated a surprising ability to stuff those attempts. He was also able to end up on top of Zeferino off a Zeferino takedown attempt, though he declined to remain on the mat with the superior grappler for long.

Granted, however, Zeferino doesn’t boast the high-level wrestling of many fighters in the division. Silverio’s kick-heavy attack will certainly tempt those wrestlers to shoot, and they’ll have better luck in grounding the Brazilian. They should also have an easier time keeping Silverio on the canvas, whereas Zeferino allowed Silverio to pop back up even through the smallest of openings.

And speaking of kicks, Silverio’s striking game is certainly full of them. Too full, perhaps. He needs to mix up his attack more, both to avoid getting taken down and to keep his opponents from anticipating incoming kicks. Silverio’s kicks form the majority of his striking arsenal, and it’s an arsenal that may be a bit overrated as a whole. His only good combination came late in the fight when Zeferino was fading, and he lacked the aggressive attack and the power to finish his foe.

As impressive as Silverio’s takedown defense and ability to quickly regain his feet were, they were actually enhanced by the quality of his opposition. As the Jungle Fight welterweight champ delves deeper into the talent pool at 170 pounds, he’s not going to look quite as good. His striking isn’t going to overwhelm opponents and may in fact hasten his downfall once he meets a few All-American wrestlers. Silverio could see success against a few more low-level adversaries, but he’ll be sent packing once he meets the more skilled welterweights in the division.

Potential: Low

Ramiro Hernandez — first-round submission loss to Lucas Martins

If there was one debuting fighter who fell flat on Wednesday, it would have to be Miletich-trained Ramiro “Junior” Hernandez. The aggressive kickboxer came out throwing and was dropped by Lucas Martins and submitted soon after.

Hernandez and Martins dropped down to bantamweight from lightweight for this fight, and there’s no telling how much the cut factored into Hernandez’s performance. However, regardless of the weight class at which the fight was contested, Hernandez’s style just doesn’t lend itself to sustaining his career in the UFC.

Hernandez was more than willing to brawl with Martins. That was a bad strategy to take against a proven striker. Hernandez threw winging punches and made no attempt to cover his own chin. Eventually, this brawling style led to Hernandez getting clipped. Once on the ground, Martins had little difficulty in taking the dazed Hernandez’s back and sinking in the rear-naked choke.

Hernandez may have been hunting for an exciting fight, but in doing so, he only demonstrated a lack of patience and refined skills. That’s not to say he doesn’t have skills, just that he failed to show them. The beating he sustained and the quick end brought about by the submission finish all but guarantees that Hernandez will make his next appearance on the regional circuit.

Potential: Low

Edimilson “Kevin” Souza — split decision win over Felipe Arantes

Jungle Fight’s featherweight kingpin, Edimilson “Kevin” Souza, has drawn some comparisons to legendary former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, but the comparisons should end now. The Team Tavares striker has a long way to go before his fights resemble those of the ex-champ.

Maybe the comparisons are drawn more from Souza’s confident stance, which features his hands at waist level. The Brazilian makes use of his lanky frame and utilizes his reach advantage effectively. However, the low hands, even when moving forward, will leave him open to counter shots. He’s going to get lit up if he continually fights in that stance. Unlike Silva, Souza also seems to lack the power to finish opponents.

Souza’s takedown defense was inconsistent. At times it was seemingly non-existent, whereas at other times he easily stuffed his opponent’s shots. When Souza ended up on his back, he was good at controlling his opponent’s posture, but he wasn’t very active and didn’t attempt to do any damage off his back. He also allowed Arantes to mount him at one point in the fight.

Souza looks like Silva and even fights with a unique striking stance that suggests his confidence in not getting tagged, but in all other ways, Souza is nothing like “The Spider.” This isn’t a fighter who is going to score knockout after knockout in the UFC. He isn’t a fighter who will earn submission wins from his back either.

Souza preyed on low-level competition in Brazil and suffered three submission losses during his 13-3 run before making his Octagon debut. If he can’t defend the takedown and can’t knock out UFC-caliber competition, expect that number of submission defeats to increase.

Potential: Low to Medium

Ali Bagautinov — third-round TKO victory over Marcos Vinicius

With the UFC flyweight division starving for more talent, the promotion is finally getting proactive in its efforts to establish the 125-pounders and add to their ranks. The latest addition is Ali Bagautinov, a highly decorated sambo practitioner. The Russian made his mark on the division with a third-round TKO finish of Marcos Vinicius in the opening bout of Wednesday night’s main card.

Standing much taller and looking significantly larger than his foe in the cage, Vinicius posed a true challenge to Bagautinov. In fact, the Brazilian took the upper hand early in the bout. Yet, the Russian did not let the size or reach disadvantage deter him. As Vinicius faded, Bagautinov turned up the intensity until he scored the stoppage win.

Bagautinov can be aggressive in his attack. He’s good at rocking opponents and following them to the ground to look for the submission finish. He has one-punch knockout power, but works best when he sits back and waits to counter his opponent. If patient, he could score some highlight-reel knockouts during his UFC tenure.

However, Vinicius illustrates the biggest issue for someone like Bagautinov. The Brazilian dropped down to flyweight after previously fighting at a heavier weight. That’s a common trend in all divisions, and flyweight has seen a lot of migration from the bantamweight class. Vinicius’ size allowed him to take Bagautinov down easily and the reach kept the Brazilian out of range of the Russian’s strikes until Vinicius sputtered in the third stanza. With other former bantamweights now calling the flyweight division home, Bagautinov could find himself as the smaller man in a lot of his encounters.

With a victory, Bagautinov guarantees his return to the eight-sided cage. But regardless of the outcome of the fight, the UFC would be crazy to let the Russian go. This is a power striker with submission skills. He’s a finisher, and that’s something the UFC needs for its flyweight division. Will the Russian challenge for the gold? Probably not. However, he will be an entertaining member of the 125-pound weight class for the foreseeable future.

Potential: Medium

Piotr Hallmann — second-round submission victory over Francisco Drinaldo

Polish fighter Piotr Hallmann’s UFC debut was one of the more highly anticipated Octagon debuts of the year. The European lightweight prospect has been destroying opponents in the international circuit for the last two-plus years, and many fans and industry types were eager to see what he could do inside the Octagon, but Francisco Drinaldo provided him with a much stiffer test than anything he had previously seen. Though he was almost obliterated early by Drinaldo’s kicks to the body, Hallmann held on and mounted a comeback that ended in a second-round tapout from Drinaldo in response to a kimura attempt from Hallmann.

Hallmann’s best work comes on the ground, but it’s usually doled out via ground-and-pound. He has knocked out an opponent from within the opponent’s guard, often scores his knockout victories via ground-and-pound and has coaxed several opponents into giving up their backs—and thus the rear-naked choke—simply to avoid eating anymore of his fists. However, Hallmann didn’t get to employ this form of attack against Drinaldo. Instead, the Brazilian hit Hallmann with body kicks early and often, even dropping the Polish fighter at one point.

Hallmann was able to tough it out and wait for Drinaldo to tire. It didn’t take long, but it also didn’t make for an impressive debut for Hallmann. He was getting slaughtered by those kicks and didn’t adapt well. He remained on the outside, rather than looking to close the distance. Had he pushed forward, Drinaldo might not have had room to throw the kicks, or Hallmann could have sought to catch the kicks and turn them into takedowns. But he didn’t.

The Polish fighter gets the benefit of the doubt here. He was fighting outside of Europe for the first time in his career and facing a remarkable step up in competition in the form of a very strong and intimidating lightweight. His comfort level should increase with his next outing and we should see more of the skills that made him a huge prospect in Europe. However, the European connection could also play against him. Hallmann is now working in a promotion full of Americans with wrestling backgrounds. For a fighter who relies heavily on a ground-and-pound attack, takedowns will be essential, but it’s questionable as to whether Hallmann can succeed in this area. Like many a European prospect before him, the new elements he’ll encounter in the sport’s upper echelons might be too much to overcome.

Potential: Low to Medium

Photo: Piotr Hallmann (top) (Tim Leidecker/Sherdog)