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 165.

Nandor Guelmino — third-round knockout loss to Daniel Omielanczuk

Nandor Guelmino’s inclusion on a UFC card is somewhat of a mystery. At 11-4-1 entering the Octagon, Guelmino’s record does give him a slight prospect status, but there were a couple of reasons why nobody expected Guelmino to ever enter the eight-sided cage. First, Guelmino, at age 37, is rather old to be considered a prospect. Second, and more significant, was his quick submission loss to Josh Barnett under the Zuffa-owned Strikeforce banner. Yet, it was Guelmino who found himself opening up the night’s festivities at UFC 165 against Daniel Omielanczuk. The fight was far from an impressive showing for either fighter and ended in the third round with Omielanczuk scoring a knockout victory over Guelmino.

In his UFC debut, Guelmino displayed many more negative traits than he did positive ones. Although his chin was strong the first few times that Omielanczuk connected, it eventually failed him and led to his defeat. Not helping matters any was the fact that Guelmino does not have good head movement to allow him to evade more strikes.

At 6-foot-3 and roughly 230 pounds, Guelmino’s build is very athletic, but he fails to use it exceptionally well. There was not one area of the fight in which he demonstrated impressive skills. He fired back with kicks and punches after getting hit by Omielanczuk, but those strikes were more of a response than anything. Guelmino never took control in the striking department, nor did he dish out a significant amount of offense in the clinch.

The one area where Guelmino did control the fight was from top position in the second round against a fatigued Omielanczuk. However, the Austrian once again displayed flaws in his overall game by not capitalizing on the situation and bringing a finish to the fight. Although he controlled position, he lacked the killer instinct to chase after a submission or rain down significant strikes on his adversary.

Guelmino’s age certainly works against his prospects of a bright UFC future, and his back-to-back losses all but guarantee that he’ll be on the outside looking to get back in. Despite his second dan black belt in taekwondo, Guelmino isn’t going to give many of the UFC’s heavyweights a tough time in the stand-up, and his ground game is average at best. Guelmino is destined for a pink slip and a spot headlining regional cards in his native Austria, unless he turns out to be another UFC castoff that Bellator opts to recruit.

Potential: Low

Daniel Omielanczuk — third-round knockout victory over Nandor Guelmino

The problem with the heavyweight division is that there’s an extremely large gap between the talent in the UFC and almost everyone else. This was clearly on display in Daniel Omielanczuk’s fight with Nandor Guelmino. The fight ended with a big knockout for the Polish fighter, bringing his winning streak to 12 fights. However, the road to that finish was far from a pretty one.

The 31-year-old Omielanczuk threw strong kicks to the body of Guelmino in the opening round. He used those kicks, plus some punches, to set up his favorite technique, the head kick. His body kicks packed impressive power, and he was able to throw the head kicks without telegraphing them too much. The 6-foot-tall Nastula Team product also demonstrated good head movement by ducking under punches and surging in to throw his own counters, often to his opponent’s body. Although he’s not a wrestler, his ducking action could lead to takedowns against guys with weak takedown defense.

Omielanczuk’s deficiencies became apparent in the second round. He was already gassed and failed to display the same aggressive forward-moving attack and powerful kicks that highlighted the opening stanza’s early moments. Once he was on the mat with Guelmino on top of him, the Polish fighter looked like a fish out of water. He went for a submission, but didn’t have the position to finish it. Meanwhile, he did not move his hips well or have much luck in escaping from underneath Guelmino.

Despite a Muay Thai and Sanshou background, Omielanczuk often wins by submission, not strikes. His power earned him the knockout against Guelmino, but his striking won’t take him very far against the elite heavyweights of the UFC. Furthermore, if his showing against Guelmino is any indication, he’ll struggle to do much on the ground either. His submission victories have come against regional competition, but it’s hardly plausible to expect him to secure those same holds against the vastly superior roster of fighters that the UFC will throw at Omielanczuk.

Potential: Low

Jesse Ronson — split decision loss to Michel Prazeres

If one was to judge the potential of Jesse Ronson based on his UFC debut against Michel Prazeres, they’d have to look primarily at the last few seconds of the fight. Ronson slammed his opponent to the mat and finished strong, showing a fire that he failed to demonstrate in the remainder of the bout. Ronson’s late outburst wasn’t enough to secure him the win, as two judges handed the fight to Prazeres on the scorecards.

Ronson has solid but not spectacular kickboxing. However, his upright stance didn’t do him any favors against Prazeres, who sought to take Ronson down at every turn. Ronson’s ability to avoid the takedown initially looked good, but as the fight wore on, he was taken down too frequently by the larger Prazeres and struggled when on ground.

Ronson took the fight on short notice against a fighter dropping down from welterweight, and that may have contributed to the outcome. It also gives him a better likelihood of a return engagement. That’s just delaying the inevitable, however. Ronson’s skills don’t suggest a long stay for him in a division packed with contenders and prospects with better stand-up, strong wrestling backgrounds and the ability to submit Ronson on the ground.

Potential: Low

Wilson Reis — unanimous decision win over Ivan Menjivar

There was a time when Wilson Reis was a constant presence in Bellator MMA. He competed in the promotion’s featherweight tournament in seasons one, two and four, and in the bantamweight tourney in season five. After his loss to Eduardo Dantas in that lone bantamweight tourney appearance, Reis journeyed to a variety of promotions before receiving his invite to the UFC. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt made good on the opportunity with an impressive showing in a victory over division mainstay Ivan Menjivar.

Reis is known for his grappling, but what he proved against Menjivar is that he can take a high-level fighter to the mat. Reis was very effective in catching Menjivar’s kicks and dumping him on his back. He also controlled position throughout a significant portion of the bout to earn the unanimous verdict. His striking game is sufficient enough for setting up takedowns, but this is a fighter who has been active since 2007 and has 21 fights under his belt while never once scoring a knockout or TKO. He has been knocked out twice, though, which further suggests that he’ll avoid prolonged engagement on the feet.

Reis’ resume of tournaments under the Bellator banner, plus his abbreviated run as the EliteXC bantamweight champion, should be indication enough that Reis is a veteran capable of enjoying a lengthy, though not spectacular, stay in the UFC. The 28-year-old has looked his best when fighting at 135 pounds, and he’ll settle into a spot similar to Menjivar as a gatekeeper just outside of the title mix in the UFC’s bantamweight division.

Potential: Medium

Photo: Wilson Reis (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)