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 171.

Francisco Trevino — unanimous decision victory over Renee Forte

The theme of UFC 171’s newcomers revolved around undefeated records. The UFC brought in two newcomers with unblemished resumes. Both were victorious in their promotional debuts, but Frank Trevino had to take the longer route to earn the win. Trevino went the distance in his lightweight battle with TUF alum Renee Forte. The Texas-based fighter emerged with the unanimous verdict at the conclusion of the contest.

Trevino’s background is in Muay Thai, but he also holds the rank of brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. That combination of skills came in handy against Forte. Trevino was taken down in the opening stanza and had to fend off the threat of Forte’s ground game. In the second and third frames, Trevino reversed the momentum and used his striking to take the rounds.

Trevino displayed a grinding striking game in the second and third rounds, but his takedown defense was called into question in the opening period. He was able to avoid taking serious damage on the mat and escaped the threat of a submission, but will he find as much success against more talented fighters inside the Octagon? It’s doubtful. He can grind out victories all day against fighters like Forte, and perhaps the 32-year-old can even establish himself as a low-level gatekeeper. However, his first round performance against Forte suggests that he’ll be in a world of trouble against the division’s best.

Potential: Low

Sean Strickland — first-round submission victory over Robert “Bubba” McDaniel

A former King of the Cage champion, Sean Strickland impressed in his UFC debut with a first-round rear-naked choke finish of Robert “Bubba” McDaniel.

Strickland has the potential to become a mainstay in the UFC, but he needs to prove himself against tougher competition than Josh Bryant, Brandon Hunt and Bubba McDaniel, the three highlights of his resume. The 23-year-old has a wrestling and grappling background, but he’s picked up a number of wins via strikes. However, he’ll need to keep working on his stand-up game. His ground game, though, is extremely effective.

Strickland debuted as a teenager in 2008. So, despite his youth, he already has a ton of experience as a pro. He fits in nicely with the next generation of mixed martial artists who have a well-rounded game. McDaniel was a suitable first challenge for him inside the Octagon, but he needs to prove that he can achieve the same results against stiffer competition in the middleweight division. At the very least, he’ll settle in as a mid-tier fighter for the UFC. His ceiling, however, is much higher. If he continues to improve his striking game to complement his wrestling and grappling, Strickland may one day contend for UFC gold.

Potential: Medium to High