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 Fight Night 44.

Anthony Hamilton — first-round submission loss to Alexey Oleinik

Anthony Hamilton became the latest in a long line of Jackson’s MMA fighters to join the UFC ranks. However, his UFC debut, a first-round, neck-crank submission loss to fellow newcomer Alexey Oleinik, won’t leave anyone anticipating his next Octagon appearance.

Hamilton lasted less than two and half minutes before succumbing to Oleinik’s signature neck crank. In that short time, Hamilton, who has claimed six of his victories by some form of knockout, failed to gain the upper hand in the striking exchanges. That isn’t a good sign for a student of Mike Winkeljohn who also put in time training alongside vaunted striker Alistair Overeem. It’s even more troublesome when Oleinik’s grappling background is taken into account—this is a 37-year-old man with nearly 60 fights under his belt and only four wins by some forms of knockout and four losses via some form of knockout. Hamilton was then taken to the mat, where Oleinik quickly caught him in the neck crank for the finish.

The 34-year-old heavyweight punched his ticket to the UFC with wins in the MFC over Smealinho Rama and Darrill Schoonover, but losses earlier in his career to Fabiano Scherner and Walt Harris provide a better indication of where he stands in terms of UFC potential. He was outdueled on the feet by a man who is hardly known for his striking game, then Hamilton was taken down and tapped out. If Hamilton can’t win at this level in the UFC, he won’t make it much further within the organization.

Potential: Low

Alexey Oleinik — first-round submission victory over Anthony Hamilton

In defeating Hamilton via a first-round neck-crank submission, Alexey Oleinik announced his arrival in the UFC. It’s surprising it took this long for someone with nearly 60 career outings to land inside the Octagon, but a rough stretch from 2009 to 2012 in which he lost four of six fights might have contributed to the delay. Now, the 37-year-old will have to make the most of the limited years he has left in the sport.

Oleinik is not a fighter known for his striking, but he displayed excellent power against Hamilton and got the better of the stand-up exchanges before he went for the takedown and the submission finish. His neck crank is a sneaky submission hold, seemingly just a head lock meant for positional control at first, before turning into some serious business that can bring an end to any fight. “The Boa Constrictor” used it late last year to finish off Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, and now he has used it to make his entrance into the win column within the Octagon.

Oleinik’s wins over Hamilton and Cro Cop join a resume that also includes such notable victims as Dion Staring, Jeff Monson, Tony Lopez, Mike Hayes and Thiago Santos. That may not be a list of top-tier competition, but it proves that Oleinik has a well-rounded game and the ability to deal with strikers. The Russian fighter has an amazing 40 submission wins. In other words, he’s deadly on the ground.

Age might be the biggest limit to Oleinik’s potential, though his past stumbles also suggest that he could reach his ceiling quickly inside the Octagon. His grappling abilities give him the chance to win in any match-up, but his ability to hang on the feet against supposedly better strikers is what really makes him an interesting addition to the UFC roster. He’s almost certainly not title-bound, but Oleinik will be a scrappy veteran who wins some and loses some in an extended run with the UFC.

Potential: Low to Medium

Shane Howell — first-round submission loss to Ray Borg

Shane Howell might seem like a formidable opponent on paper. He has wins over UFC veteran Tim Elliott and Bellator vet Mark Oshiro, and he recovered from a 4-6 start to his career to go 9-1 over his last 10. However, what looks good on paper doesn’t mean much after a fighter takes two years off from active competition and then returns to fight someone the caliber of Ray Borg under the bright lights of the UFC. Howell turned out to be anything but a formidable opponent when he folded to Borg in the first round, via a rear-naked choke.

Howell was steamrolled by Borg in less than two and a half minutes. The 30-year-old flyweight wasn’t able to showcase any of his skills along the way, either. The real question here is how Howell even landed this spot on the card. The UFC typically seeks out prospects who have been posting wins on a regular basis, but Howell entered the fight as a 13-7 fighter who had gone more than two years without a fight.

Howell may have defeated Elliott several years ago, but the two fighters have taken different paths since then and even a rematch of that fight would not do Howell any favors in the win column. Howell is a scrappy fighter who might be able to slam the door shut on some UFC flyweight newcomers, at best, but he’s had the door slammed shut in his face first. Howell is more than likely a one-and-done fighter in the UFC.

Potential: Low

Carlos Diego Ferreira — first-round submission victory over Colton Smith

No matter how you cut it, a 38-second finish in a UFC fight is impressive. Do that in your debut with the organization, as Carlos Diego Ferreira did with his rear-naked choke submission of The Ultimate Fighter 16 winner Colton Smith, and you’re sure to turn some heads.

Ferreira can hold his own on his feet, but where he really excels is in his takedowns and submissions. The 29-year-old now has six wins via submission, and Smith can testify to the dangers Ferreira presents on the ground. Smith isn’t the cream of the UFC crop, so Ferreira will have to continue to prove himself against tougher foes. However, his resume already contains evidence of his potential.

Ferreira’s excellent performance is no fluke. The UFC’s recent raid of Legacy FC’s roster has netted some interesting prospects, but Ferreira’s departure from the Texas-based promotion might be the one that left promoter Mick Maynard shedding the most tears (well, until Holly Holm inevitably follows suit, anyhow). The talented Brazilian exited Legacy after a three-fight winning streak under the promotion’s banner that netted him wins over UFC veterans Carlo Prater and Jorge Patino and, with the win over Patino, lightweight gold. Ferreira was one of Legacy’s stars, but now he’s looking to forge a similar path in the UFC…and he just might be able to do it.

Potential: Medium to High

Joe Ellenberger — split decision victory over James Moontasri

The Ellenberger name is familiar to MMA fans thanks to the accomplishments of Jake Ellenberger. Now, Jake’s brother, Joe, is making the most of his opportunity inside the Octagon as he looks to add to the family legacy. The first task on Joe’s list was a debut fight against fellow newcomer James Moontasri. Ellenberger squeaked by with the split verdict to take the win.

Joe didn’t seem as dynamic as his brother. Whereas Jake has a tendency to effectively mix things up, Joe was all too focused on takedowns without the proper setup, especially in the opening stanza. Though he struggled initially, he showed a lot of heart in battling through a difficult first frame. The momentum shifted in his direction when Moontasri faded in the second and third rounds, allowing Ellenberger to take control with his wrestling and strong ground game.

Joe still has a lot of ground to make up before he can be considered on the same level with his brother. His wrestling allows him to stay in fights and win them through a grinding approach, but he needs to improve upon his setups for the takedown shots. The win keeps Joe alive in the UFC, and there’s a strong possibility we see a better version of the 29-year-old in his next outing. If this performance against Moontasri is as good as it gets, though, Joe might struggle to remain on the UFC roster for very long.

Potential: Low to Medium

James Moontasri — split decision loss to Joe Ellenberger

Ellenberger may have notched the split decision win, but James Moontasri had his moments.

The Californian stands as one of the prospects who made his way to the UFC through the Resurrection Fighting Alliance. Fighting with a taekwondo base, Moontasri showed explosiveness, good takedown defense and a well-rounded game in the first frame. He did fade down the stretch, but this could be a result of a short camp and a fight just weeks earlier in the RFA. Moontasri’s weak spot is the ground game, especially when he’s fighting off his back.

The short-notice nature of Moontasri’s UFC appearance—plus the close verdict—makes him a near lock for a second bout inside the Octagon. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Moontasri of round one stick around for rounds two and three in his sophomore appearance to put on a more impressive overall showing. Moontasri could carve out a spot for himself in the lower levels of the UFC’s lightweight division.

Potential: Low to Medium