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 seven newcomers from UFC Fight Night 33.

Ben Wall — first-round knockout loss to Alex Garcia

Ben Wall’s walkout for his fight with Alex Garcia may have left some wondering what sort of unique fetishes Wall has. The one question that was answered in Wall’s 43-second knockout loss to Alex Garcia, though, was that he doesn’t belong at welterweight.

Wall was quickly flattened by the buzzsaw that is Garcia, but the thing to keep in mind is that the TUF Smashes alum was preparing to make the drop to featherweight before he accepted the 170-pound bout with Garcia. Wall was officially undefeated entering this contest, but he’s certainly not capable of withstanding the power that a lot of UFC welterweights pack in their punches.

If the UFC gives Wall another shot, this time at featherweight, it might see better results out of the 24-year-old fighter. However, Wall might have to win a few more on the regional circuit and hope for another chance the next time the UFC takes a trip Down Under.

Potential: Low to Medium

Alex Garcia — first-round knockout victory over Ben Wall

Whereas Ben Wall turned heads with the giant animal heads that accompanied him to the cage, Alex Garcia turned even more heads with his performance inside the Octagon. The Tristar fighter needed a mere 43 seconds to demolish Wall.

The 26-year-old is now 11-1 with a balanced total of five wins via some form of knockout and five by way of submission. Though he was riding a great deal of hype coming into his UFC debut, Garcia dropped a fight via knockout against Seth Baczynski, easily the most accomplished adversary on his resume thus far.

Garcia destroyed a guy who was headed to featherweight, so there’s still a question mark lingering as to how he’ll fare against legitimate welterweights within the eight-sided cage. With Tristar as his gym, Garcia should find at least some success inside the Octagon, but he’ll have to prove he can get past the Baczynskis of the world if he wants to contend for a title some day.

Potential: Medium

Krzysztof Jotko — unanimous decision win over Bruno Santos

Some UFC debuts are impressive and others leave a lot to be desired, even when a fighter lands in the win column. Krzysztof Jotko’s unanimous decision victory over fellow debuting fighter Bruno Santos falls into the latter category.

The middleweight may still hold an undefeated mark through 14 fights, but he has failed to demonstrate any abilities that will lead him into the upper echelon of the UFC’s 185-pound division. Despite a much longer frame than his counterpart, Jotko was ineffective in using reach and distance throughout the fight. He may have gotten the better of Santos standing, and even on the mat, but in no one area did he gain a significant upper hand.

Perhaps his best asset was his ability to reverse, both in terms of takedowns and on the ground. He displayed excellent balance in avoiding numerous takedown attempts from Santos and even landed on top early in the fight. He also escaped from a bad position on the ground and turned it in his favor, delivering more damage when he was on top than Santos had been able to do from a similar position. Jotko’s ability to avoid takedowns also provided him with an opportunity to clinch and separate from Santos, at which point the Polish fighter landed a left hand that rocked Santos.

Jotko could potentially figure into the UFC’s roster as an entry-level gatekeeper, but even that could be a stretch. He’s been a decision machine who occasionally scores a stoppage, but his last two fights prior to his UFC debut ended in split or majority decisions. In other words, he has barely edged by some of the competition he’s met on the European circuit, so it’s to be expected that he will struggle against UFC-caliber opponents.

Potential: Low

Bruno Santos — unanimous decision loss to Krzysztof Jotko

Bruno Santos brought an undefeated record to the Octagon through 13 fights, but a remarkable 11 of those wins came via decision. His last (and only) stoppage win? It came all the way back in his pro debut in 2007. The UFC commentating team even noted that matchmaker Joe Silva wanted to see Santos finish a fight, so Silva can’t be too happy at Santos’ showing in a unanimous decision loss to Krzysztof Jotko.

A middleweight, Santos has a similar short and stocky build to that of fellow Brazilian Rousimar Palhares, but without the urgency to wreck limbs. In the early moments of the fight, Santos flashed quickness and an excellent ability to change levels. However, Jotko frequently thwarted his takedown attempts and even reversed Santos. Santos overcommitted too often and found himself off-balance against Jotko. When he did find the big double-leg takedown, Santos looked impressive, but he just couldn’t find it with any consistency. He is strong in the clinch, but he’s just not a finisher in any area, including on the ground, where he also permitted Jotko to get a reversal.

Santos’ decision-heavy style won’t endear him to the UFC brass, and it will cost him fights like this one. There’s not much chance that Santos will receive a second outing until he goes out on the regional circuit and transforms into a finisher.

Potential: Low

Richie Vaculik — first-round TKO loss to Justin Scoggins

The only thing worse than an uneventful UFC debut is coming out on the wrong end of a steamrolling. That’s where Richie Vaculik found himself in a first-round TKO loss to Justin Scoggins.

Vaculik, now a flyweight, competed on TUF Smashes as a lightweight and failed to advance beyond the opening round of the tournament. He was afforded another opportunity against Scoggins on Friday night, but again fell short. He didn’t get a chance to showcase his skill set against a fighter who was constantly applying an overwhelming amount of pressure. On the mat, Vaculik was flat and offered very little to counter the game of Scoggins. The stoppage may have been a bit premature—Vaculik appeared to be rolling for a leg—but the end was inevitable and Vaculik’s submission attempt would have likely only bought him a couple of extra seconds before the fight was stopped.

If Vaculik can’t put up a better showing when fighting at flyweight, he’s not headed very far in the UFC. The promotion has bolstered its 125-pound roster lately, which leaves little room for second chances when someone falls victim to as much of a one-sided affair as the 30-year-old found himself in.

Potential: Low

Justin Scoggins — first-round TKO victory over Richie Vaculik

The most impressive debut of the night at UFC Fight Night 33 definitely belonged to Justin Scoggins. The 21-year-old certainly earned his nickname of the “Tank” with the dominant performance he put on against Richie Vaculik.

Scoggins’ game can be defined by two words: relentless pressure. He flashed his karate background while throwing numerous kicks at Vaculik without much pause in between. Once he closed the distance, Scoggins quickly locked up the clinch and transitioned to a takedown. He continued to apply pressure once the fight was on the ground and did not let Vaculik breathe. The only low point for Scoggins was in how he kept his hands down. He didn’t have to deal with any repercussions in this match-up, but a quicker and better striker could make him pay for that tendency to keep his hands low.

If Scoggins brings this same amount of pressure to every fight, he’s going to frustrate a lot of opponents who will never even get a chance to set up before enduring kicks, clinches, takedowns and ground-and-pound. Scoggins is as fast as any flyweight, but his style could neutralize a lot of what the top flyweights do best.

Potential: High

Bethe Correia — split decision victory over Julie Kedzie

The UFC’s women’s bantamweight division has no shortage of top female fighters, and Bethe Correia attempted to make her argument for a spot among them with a split decision victory over Julie Kedzie.

Correia displayed good movement early in the fight, bouncing from side to side and pouncing in to attack with combinations. However, she ate her fair share of punches throughout this affair. It was her own left hook that seemed to do the most damage, however, and she could use that to rock future opponents. The problem is that she winged it at times and could suffer the consequences of counter shots. Kedzie tested her chin, though, and it appears to be solid.

Correia’s biggest downfall, outside of the fact that she may be on the small end of the bantamweight spectrum, is her apparent inexperience. Late in the fight, she took Kedzie down and then moved her over to the fence, where Kedzie was able to use the cage to wall-walk. In the ensuing scramble, Correia went for Kedzie’s back and almost gave up position entirely. She’ll need to overcome mental lapses such as these if she is to advance up the UFC ladder.

Potential: Medium

Photo: Justin Scoggins (Fight News Australia)