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 174.

Josh Shockley — first-round TKO loss to Jason Saggo

UFC 174 kicked off with a battle of newcomers. Josh Shockley took to the cage to face Jason Saggo in lightweight action. Unfortunately for Shockley, Saggo turned out to be the better man. Saggo finished Shockley in the first round via TKO.

The holes in Shockley’s game were apparent as soon as Saggo scored his first takedown. Shockley struggles in the clinch, where Saggo scored all of his takedowns, and he’s left to play defense on the ground. Saggo was able to transition to mount early in the round, and Shockley’s mistakes later in the frame led to the TKO finish. Shockley attempted to roll over, and in doing so, he gave up his back. Once Saggo had the position, Shockley seemed helpless to escape. Instead, he turtled up and allowed Saggo to rain down a barrage of ground-and-pound blows. The referee warned Shockley to defend himself, but all the UFC newcomer could do was cover up and hope to ride out the round.

Despite five submission victories of his own and decision wins over Shamar Bailey and Micah Miller, Shockley has some weaknesses in his ground game. He’s easily taken to the mat and struggles to do much beyond defending against transitions and ground-and-pound assaults. Shockley’s two previous losses came by way of submission under the Bellator banner, which suggests that it’ll be a field day for talented grapplers going up against Shockley at this level of the game. With very little offensive output before he crumbled, it’s likely that Shockley is a one-and-done fighter in the UFC.

Potential: Low

Jason Saggo — first-round TKO victory over Josh Shockley

While Shockley was finding it difficult to mount any offense, Saggo discovered that it was mostly smooth sailing in his first UFC outing. The 28-year-old Canadian worked Shockley over for the TKO victory in the closing seconds of the first stanza.

Saggo was able to take advantage of Shockley’s vulnerabilities in the clinch to score a pair of takedowns. On the ground, Saggo dominated position and landed a significant helping of ground-and-pound blows. Saggo was able to gain mount early in the fight, but he benefited the most when Shockley turned and gave the Wulfrun MMA product his back. Saggo maintained his position, flattened Shockley out and finished the fight with a ground-and-pound flurry.

Against Shockley, Saggo looked extremely impressive. His work in the clinch, including a trip takedown, is strong and he’s confident in shifting positions on the ground. His top control work will allow him to dominate any opponent he can take to the canvas. Saggo’s pro run includes eight submission victories, and his only loss came by way of a split decision to Jesse Ronson. The one problem here is that we’ve only seen Saggo against another UFC rookie. He has to go on to prove himself against established UFC fighters. He might face some setbacks along the way, but Saggo should be able to carve out a spot on the UFC roster as a low- or mid-tier gatekeeper at the very least.

Potential: Medium

Michinori Tanaka — unanimous decision victory over Roland Delorme

It’s not often that a debuting fighter can face an established UFC veteran and emerged with his undefeated record intact. Michinori Tanaka was able to do exactly that when he handed Roland Delorme a loss via unanimous decision.

Tanaka showed good movement on his feet, staying out of range from Delorme’s strikes. However, the 23-year-old had little intention of standing with Delorme. He sought to score takedowns when he could. Yet, it was in the grappling department where the Japanese fighter truly excelled. Delorme was able to find the mount on two occasions against Tanaka, but Tanaka quickly escaped the position and swept Delorme to gain top position. Tanaka displayed heavy top pressure and used the position to score points with the judges.

This young bantamweight put on an impressive showing against Delorme, who has already notched three Octagon victories of his own. The Japanese fighter could find himself challenging for the belt a few years down the road. For now, his skills make him a lock to settle in as a mid-tier bantamweight on the UFC’s roster.

Potential: Medium to High

Kajan Johnson — third-round knockout loss to Tae Hyun Bang

Veteran journeyman with an underwhelming record joins The Ultimate Fighter cast and goes on to great things despite not winning the reality competition. It worked for Matt Brown, and Canadian fighter Kajan Johnson was certainly hoping it could be the tale that describes his own MMA comeback. Well, the story didn’t get off to a great start for the TUF Nations alum, who succumbed to a stunning knockout blow from Tae Hyun Bang in the third frame of their contest.

Johnson had his moments in the fight. He connected with several big punches, but his lack of power, combined with Bang’s excellent chin, meant that he had little hope of finishing Bang on the feet. Johnson did score several takedowns as well, but Bang used headlocks and guillotine choke attempts as the base for his escapes from the bottom position. Johnson was all too willing to stand toe-to-toe with Bang and throw down, and although he landed flush many times, he was playing with fire against the power punching of the South Korean. It was only a matter of time before Johnson was left looking up at the lights.

Johnson was actually 13-2-1 since late 2004 before stepping away from the sport in 2011. He only returned in late 2013 as part of the TUF Nations cast, and his reward was a wired jaw following a semifinal-round knockout loss to Chad Laprise. He might have to check the integrity of his jaw again after the devastating blow Bang landed.

The Tristar product always seems to come up just short when it counts the most. His 13-2-1 run featured wins over Richie Whitson and Ryan Healy, but losses against Rory MacDonald and Ryan Machan held him back. Now, the same can be said of his attempts to crack the UFC roster.

Johnson has had issues with injuries throughout his career, and this might have been his final attempt to break through. The UFC seems to have a fondness for Johnson, though, so he might get another opportunity to pick up a win inside the Octagon.

Potential: Low

Valerie Letourneau — split decision victory over Elizabeth Phillips

Despite an eye almost swollen shut, Valerie Letourneau was able to pick up her first UFC victory. It didn’t come easy, and it was a close one: a split decision verdict over Elizabeth Phillips.

The damage to Letourneau’s eye came early in the contest, but the 31-year-old fighter maintained her composure and engaged in a stand-up battle with Phillips. She displayed the more technical and accurate striking in the contest, while also avoiding the looping punches thrown by Phillips.

Letourneau has trained at Tristar alongside Georges St-Pierre, and she had American Top Team’s Hector Lombard and Mike Brown in her corner for her UFC debut. Her style is reminiscent of that of Leslie Smith, though more technical in nature. In fact, a fight between Letourneau and Smith would make for an entertaining affair.

Letourneau has been fighting professionally since 2007, with extended periods of inactivity thrown in there. Her only losses have come against Alexis Davis, Sarah Kaufman and Claudia Gadelha. That puts her a notch below the top tier. Letourneau probably won’t challenge for the title, but her style makes her a safe bet to remain in the UFC for an extended stay.

Potential: Medium

Elizabeth Phillips — split decision loss to Valerie Letourneau

Phillips didn’t display as much technical prowess on her feet as her foe, Letourneau, and that ultimately cost her the split decision in her Octagon debut.

The Sikjitsu product, who trains alongside the likes of Sam Sicilia, Michael Chiesa and Juliana Pena, demonstrated an aggressive stand-up game. She attacked early and often, getting the better of Letourneau in the opening frame. However, she was a bit wild with her strikes as the contest went on, and many of her strikes didn’t find their target. Her cardio was also called into question as she faded down the stretch.

Phillips, like Letourneau, has found trouble against significant opponents. She lost her pro debut in 2012 to Miriam Nakamoto, and now she has dropped her UFC debut as well. Those stand as the only losses on her record, and she did enough in this contest to prove that she could indeed remain competitive in the UFC with some more seasoning. The best route for Phillips now would be to join Invicta, where she can gain more experience while also sliding immediately into the title mix of a division depleted of talent by the UFC’s own venture into the women’s bantamweight division.

Potential: Low to Medium