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 12 newcomers from UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter: Nations Finale.

Tim Gorman — unanimous decision loss to Mitch Gagnon

Wednesday night’s event was a showcase of TUF Nations talent, but it also provided an opportunity for Tim Gorman, a veteran of The Ultimate Fighter 18 who was forced off the reality series with a leg injury. Unfortunately, Gorman couldn’t capitalize on his second chance. Instead, he dropped a unanimous decision to Mitch Gagnon, who moved to 3-1 in his UFC tenure.

It’s not likely that Gorman will return for a sophomore appearance with the UFC without first compiling another winning streak on the regional circuit. Gorman has scored the majority of his wins by TKO, but he demonstrated little beyond his wrestling technique in his Octagon debut. The wrestling by itself wasn’t enough for the win, and Gorman gave Gagnon several opportunities for choke submissions along the way while also getting the worst of the stand-up exchanges.

Gorman’s resume suggests that he’s capable of dominating the regional circuit competition, but it also reveals how the wrestler tends to struggle whenever he seeks to take a step up in competition. Gorman is more than likely a one-and-done UFC fighter.

Potential: Low

Richard Walsh — unanimous decision victory over Chris Indich

The Australian contingent of TUF Nations may have missed out on a spot in either of the TUF finals bouts, but the UFC did give a few of the Aussies a shot at the finale event. The only fighter from the group to emerge with a victory was Richard Walsh, who topped fellow countryman Chris Indich via a unanimous decision.

Walsh remained aggressive throughout the encounter and shrugged off Indich’s numerous guillotine attempts. However, Indich offered little else in the way of offense, which made this a mere showcase for Walsh. Walsh’s only prior loss came against Robert Whittaker, the welterweight winner from The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes, and his skill set suggests that he could develop into a low-level gatekeeper at the very least.

Potential: Low to Medium

Chris Indich — unanimous decision loss to Richard Walsh

There’s no denying that Chris Indich is a tough fighter. He went two full rounds with eventual TUF Nations welterweight winner Chad Laprise in one of the most entertaining fights of the season on the reality show, and he toughed it out for three rounds against Walsh in a losing effort.

There’s a difference between a tough fighter and a successful fighter, however. Indich could serve as an entry-level gatekeeper to the UFC ranks, but Walsh was able to prove that Indich’s offense can be shut down entirely. Indich looked like a one-trick pony in this fight, repeatedly opting for a guillotine and absorbing punishment once the submission failed. Obviously, his performance against Laprise is proof that he has more to his arsenal than just a single chokehold, but if Walsh was able to shut him down, what will the rest of the wrestling-heavy welterweight division do?

Potential: Low

Nordine Taleb — unanimous decision victory over Vik Grujic

The UFC has fallen in love with Nordine Taleb, and the veteran of two seasons of The Ultimate Fighter finally rewarded the promotion with a win when he edged Vik Grujic on the judges’ scorecards.

It’s been a long road for Taleb, who initially fought in the qualifying round of The Ultimate Fighter 19. He had his first UFC fight before TUF 19 debuted last night. His performance in a losing effort on TUF 19 earned him an invite to TUF Nations, where he lost his first fight. Despite those two setbacks, the UFC brought him in for the fight with Grujic and Taleb finally found his hand raised in victory.

Taleb displayed an impressive combination of speed and power in avoiding Grujic’s strikes, throwing strikes of his own and securing the takedown. He’s a striker who trains out of the Tristar Gym, which provides him with an excellent set of teammates and a world-class camp. His speed will be an asset in the UFC’s middleweight division, but he’ll have to prove he can keep winning.

His track record in Bellator and his performance against Grujic suggest that he could have a high ceiling as he continues to develop, but his Bellator loss to Marius Zaromskis and his two stumbles on The Ultimate Fighter cast some doubt on his ability to break through.

Potential: Low to Medium

Vik Grujic — unanimous decision loss to Nordine Taleb

Of the TUF Nations fighters to earn a fight at the finale, Vik Grujic sported the worst recent record. In scoring the unanimous decision victory, Nordine Taleb only piled on, handing Grujic his third loss in his last four official appearances.

Grujic had little answer for the speed and power that Taleb brought to the Octagon, but his record was already plenty of indication for the uphill battle he faced in trying to sustain a long-term UFC career. Grujic started his career on a five-fight winning streak, but he has gone just 1-3 since the start of 2012.

Grujic performed well on the reality series, but he’s not going to maintain that level of success against UFC-caliber opponents. He doesn’t have the size, speed or power to hang in the middleweight division at this level. He could drop to welterweight, but the wrestlers in the division will follow Taleb’s blueprint to grounding Grujic and outworking him en route to the victory.

Potential: Low

Mike de la Torre — split decision loss to Mark Bocek

One of the biggest underdogs of the card turned in one of the most impressive performances of the night, even if two of the judges awarded the win to his opponent. Mike de la Torre withstood a number of big right hands from Mark Bocek, but he still came up short against the UFC veteran.

The California native’s chin appeared to be a severe weakness in the early moments of the fight, but he weathered the storm while also demonstrating great hips and some effective striking of his own. De la Torre needed to prove he could defend takedowns, and he most certainly did. Even when Bocek was able to get him to the mat, the contest didn’t stay there long. De la Torre had suffered three previous submission losses to somewhat questionable levels of opposition, but he didn’t allow Bocek, an excellent grappler, exploit the holes in his game.

De la Torre took the fight with Bocek on short notice and arguably won the fight, even if the judges say otherwise. Those two details will be more than enough to earn the lightweight a return invite to the Octagon. He has the well-rounded offensive skill set to make waves in the division. His takedown defense will be key in his longevity with the promotion, but his performance against Bocek suggests that he could be in for an extended stay.

Potential: Medium

Sean O’Connell — first-round knockout loss to Ryan Jimmo

A knockout loss is not the way any fighter wants to start their UFC career, but that’s exactly where Sean O’Connell found himself after walking into a devastating right hook from Ryan Jimmo in the first round of their light heavyweight contest.

O’Connell left himself open to counters throughout the fight, and it seemed like only a matter of time before Jimmo would land something to stop the UFC newcomer in his tracks. The MFC veteran can brawl and used the clinch to control Jimmo against the cage, but he never really threatened Jimmo.

O’Connell could find himself on the wrong end of a lot of knockout blows in the UFC’s 205-pound weight class. There’s a chance that he can grind his way to some wins inside the Octagon, but the odds that he gets a second chance are rather low.

Potential: Low

Leslie Smith — unanimous decision loss to Sarah Kaufman

When considering Leslie Smith’s potential in the UFC, her ability to win isn’t the only factor. Smith, who dropped a unanimous decision to former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman in her Octagon debut, is a fighter whose value comes in much the same form as fighters like Leonard Garcia. In other words, she’s bound to entertain.

Smith went 3-1-1 under the Invicta banner, including a pair of classic fights against Kaitlin Young and a near-win over Kaufman in what was ultimately a decision in Kaufman’s favor. Smith didn’t fare as well against Kaufman in their rematch. She was more decisively outstruck in this encounter. Smith’s wild style can goad opponents into slugfests, but she lacks the technical abilities and the willingness to go to the ground that could have secured her the win.

Smith is a tough test for any fighter, and the UFC would be smart to keep her under its employ as a litmus test for rising contenders. If they get past Smith, they’re ready to face the Kaufmans, Tates and Rouseys of the women’s bantamweight division.

Potential: Medium

Chad Laprise — split decision victory over Olivier Aubin-Mercier

Welterweight Chad Laprise took top honors in the TUF Nations 170-pound tournament with a split decision win over Olivier Aubin-Mercier, but he has already announced his intentions to drop to lightweight for his next outing.

Regardless of weight division, Laprise projects to be one of the more successful TUF winners in recent years. He was able to avoid going to the ground with a grappler and demonstrated excellent head movement and footwork in his stand-up game.

Laprise could be exposed on the ground against a fighter with better wrestling who could actually put him on the mat, but he has the takedown defense and scrambling ability to make that a tough task. If fights stay standing, his movement makes it difficult for opponents to lock on and fire away. Laprise could battle his way into title contention some day, but his TUF win guarantees that he’ll be a mainstay of the promotion for the immediate future.

Potential: Medium to High

Olivier Aubin-Mercier — split decision loss to Chad Laprise

It’s difficult to be a grappler in the UFC if you can’t get opponents to the ground. Olivier Aubin-Mercier learned that lesson in his split decision loss to Chad Laprise in the TUF Nations welterweight finals.

Compared to Laprise’s top-notch footwork, Aubin-Mercier appeared to be a novice on his feet. He shot in for numerous takedowns in an attempt to get the fight to the mat, where he had secured all four of his previous pro wins and one of his victories on the reality show. Laprise was able to stuff most of Aubin-Mercier’s takedowns and bounced back up on the rare occasion when the Quebec native did execute a successful takedown.

The 25-year-old only had four pro fights under his belt before entering the Octagon and still has time to evolve into a better fighter. He nearly stole the decision from Laprise, but now he must go back to the drawing board and continue to improve his wrestling and stand-up games. If the UFC retains his services and brings him along slowly, Aubin-Mercier could improve enough to become a mid-tier gatekeeper.

Potential: Low to Medium

Elias Theodorou — second-round TKO victory over Sheldon Westcott

There’s nothing quite like the confidence to say “Hi Mom!” to the cameras while in the middle of a fight. That’s exactly what TUF Nations middleweight winner Elias Theodorou did not long before ending Sheldon Westcott’s night via a second-round TKO.

Westcott was aggressive out of the gates, but Theodorou defended well and eventually turned the tide. The Canadian fighter has won a majority of his bouts by way of strikes, but he looked at home on the ground with Westcott and delivered a ground-and-pound attack to secure the win.

Theodorou, like Chad Laprise, benefits from being a TUF winner. He’ll see a few more fights in the Octagon regardless of his performances. If his skills match his confidence, Theodorou could find himself in the title mix down the road.

Potential: Medium to High

Sheldon Westcott — second-round TKO loss to Elias Theodorou

Someone should have told Sheldon Westcott to calm down. Perhaps then the TUF Nations middleweight finalist would have had something left in the gas tank once his early attempts to finish Elias Theodorou failed. Instead, Westcott ended up on the receiving end of a second-round TKO.

Westcott’s early burst of activity almost netted him a submission win, but Theodorou was able to fend off Westcott’s offense and hang in there until Westcott slowed.

Don’t expect Westcott to get too far with the approach he employed against Theodorou. His aggressive style could overwhelm other newcomers or strikers who lack adequate submission defense, but most will capitalize on Westcott’s mistakes or wait for him to tire. That will limit him to the lower tiers of the UFC’s middleweight division.

Potential: Low