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 The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale.

Robert Drysdale — first-round submission victory over Keith Berish

Robert Drysdale’s UFC debut has been nearly a year in the making, but it finally went down on Sunday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Drysdale, who had been slated to debut first in August 2013 and then in November 2013, found success in his first Octagon appearance, finishing his opponent, Keith Berish, with a rear-naked choke in the first round.

Drysdale’s takedowns are good enough to allow him to eat up lower-level UFC competition, but he comes in from far out, throwing a lunging punch before going for his opponent’s legs. That approach could cause Drysdale to struggle to find takedowns against better competition. Given his elite ground game, Drysdale is a threat to anybody if the fight hits the mat. However, fighters are going to look for any way possible to avoid going to the ground with the jiu-jitsu ace, and stuffing those takedowns will be their first order of business when training to fight Drysdale. If the Legacy FC veteran can’t drag his opponents down, he’ll have to stand with them, which might prove to be a tough test for the grappler. His striking is only used to set up takedowns, and any extended time on the feet will certainly allow his foes to expose holes in his stand-up game.

Drysdale has a chance to rise through the light heavyweight ranks in a similar fashion to how Demian Maia ascended in the middleweight division. He’s going to score a number of submissions against increasingly difficult opposition until he earns fights against the division’s best fighters. He’ll likely run into a wall at that point, and the true test of how far he can go in the UFC will be determined by how well he adapts once his takedowns become less effective and he is forced to rely on aspects of his game beyond armbars and chokeholds.

Potential: Medium to High

Keith Berish — first-round submission loss to Robert Drysdale

Keith Berish’s loss to Drysdale can’t be summed up as a simple case of Drysdale clamping on a rear-naked choke for the first-round victory. There was certainly another contributing factor: the gruesome injury Berish suffered while attempting to fend off a standing rear-naked choke attempt from Drysdale. Had Berish’s knee held together, it’s possible the Ring of Combat veteran could have continued to play the submission defense game, albeit in a losing effort.

Berish demonstrated very little in the stand-up game, allowing Drysdale to use single, winging punches to close the distance for the takedown. The Black & Blue MMA product does have two TKO victories, so it was a discouraging sign to see him fail in that aspect of the fight against a man primarily known for his grappling abilities. Berish also failed to stuff Drysdale’s takedown attempts and keep the fight off the mat. It was impressive that he was able to fend off the jiu-jitsu ace’s submissions for as long as he did. In fact, he might have continued to do so, had it not been for the knee injury.

A strong submission defense by itself is not enough to win fights. Berish was ineffective in the striking department, lacked the takedown defense to keep the fight on the feet and was forced to play defense the entire time on the ground. True, Drysdale is a tough task for anyone’s UFC debut, but Berish needed to demonstrate some strengths against a fellow newcomer. He didn’t.

Potential: Low

Alexis Dufresne — unanimous decision loss to Sarah Moras

In her UFC debut, Alexis Dufresne learned what Julianna Pena, Raquel Pennington, Tara LaRosa and Peggy Morgan had discovered before her: Sarah Moras is no joke. Moras, a cast member from the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter handed Dufresne the first loss of her young career.

Dufresne was able to land takedowns against Moras throughout the contest, and she displayed good positional control as well. However, it was not enough. Although Dufresne controlled Moras on the mat, she failed to deliver a significant amount of offense. That contributed to Dufresne’s loss on the scorecards, but it wasn’t the only area where Dufresne came up short. The Team Quest fighter appeared to be winded by the end of the opening frame, which likely contributed to her inability to push Moras more on the ground in the second stanza. She gained a second wind in the final frame, but it was too little, too late.

Although Moras has proven on numerous occasions that she can be a handful for even the best of veterans, Dufresne needed to demonstrate something more when she had the upper hand. She was able to put Moras on the mat and maintain top control, but she stalled out once she gained the advantage. Her highlight victories, including a win over Kim Couture, all featured a TKO finish, but neither her stand-up nor her ground-and-pound game were evident in this outing. If she can’t supply a steady offense against the division’s lower levels, she’s going to find it hard to succeed in what is becoming a deep women’s bantamweight division in the UFC.

Potential: Low

Sarah Moras — unanimous decision victory over Alexis Dufresne

In 2012, Sarah Moras scored a TKO victory over future The Ultimate Fighter winner Julianna Pena. Then, in a losing effort, she battled Raquel Pennington to a unanimous decision. On TUF 18, she scored an upset victory over Tara LaRosa to advance into the house, then submitted Peggy Morgan before losing to Pena. Now, in her UFC debut, Moras once again surprised many with her performance against Alexis Dufresne. Moras claimed the unanimous verdict over the Team Quest fighter.

Moras has made a name for herself as a scrappy fighter who is always a tough out. She can get picked apart by a tough opponent, as Pena proved in the TUF 18 semifinals, but she can also score the big upset, as she did against LaRosa. The key to Moras’ victory over Dufresne was an active attack from off her back against Dufresne, who was able to plant her on the mat repeatedly.

“Cheesecake” can only go so far on her scrappiness. Moras has holes in her stand-up game that can be exposed by a technical striker, and she can be dominated on the ground. Dufresne would have been able to accomplish the latter, had she provided offensive output from the top position. Yet, despite the deficiencies in her game, Moras has the heart and the ability to overcome her weaknesses and put up a real fight against any opponent. Like Dufresne, she lacks the typical experience of a UFC fighter, but she’s been in several battles and the results haven’t been bad. Moras should perform well enough to carve out a space on the UFC roster as a mid-tier talent or a low-level gatekeeper.

Potential: Medium

Daniel Spohn — unanimous decision loss to Patrick Walsh

Not every finale bout involving The Ultimate Fighter 19 cast members could buck the trend of the show’s lackluster season of fights. Daniel Spohn and Patrick Walsh didn’t deliver a spectacular first-round finish to prove that they, too, were more than decision machines. Instead, the pair went the distance, and Spohn emerged on the wrong side of the scorecards when all was said and done.

Spohn, a NAAFS and Bellator veteran, was easily taken down by Walsh throughout the affair. He was able to use a Walsh submission attempt to reverse his opponent at one point, but he couldn’t keep Walsh down. He made bad decisions that cost him the few opportunities that did come along, and he allowed Walsh to control position and pace throughout the contest.

Wrestlers and grapplers will have a field day with Spohn. He has difficulty stuffing takedowns and can be controlled on the mat. His mistakes can also lead to plenty of chances for opponents to end the fight. Furthermore, Spohn lost to an opponent who failed to show his own UFC readiness. With a disappointing showing at the TUF 19 Finale, Spohn’s days in the UFC have likely come to an end.

Potential: Low

Patrick Walsh — unanimous decision victory over Daniel Spohn

Walsh topped Spohn on the scorecards, but that doesn’t mean his own position on the UFC roster is all that much more secure.

Walsh was able to take down Spohn seemingly at will. He was able to control position against Spohn and escaped from bad spots, though Spohn’s own mistakes contributed to Walsh’s success in this area. Walsh overcommitted on a sloppy submission attempt, which didn’t cost him against Spohn but could cost him in the future. He also seemed to fade down the stretch in this grueling battle.

Although Walsh dominated Spohn for a good part of this contest, the performance isn’t indicative of a bright future for Walsh inside the Octagon. He’s going to struggle to score takedowns as often against better competition, and he’s going to find that it’s difficult to maintain top control. Furthermore, if he loses position off a submission, he’s not going to be able to escape so easily. Walsh will stick around for at least one more fight, but wins are going to be hard to come by.

Potential: Low

Juan Manuel Puig — first-round knockout loss to Adriano Martins

Juan Manuel Puig’s UFC dreams were shattered in less than two and a half minutes, courtesy of the fist of Adriano Martins. The Mexican prospect stands as one of the better fighters to come out of Mexico, but his stand-up skills were no match for Martins.

Puig was effective with leg kicks, but his punching flurries left him open to Martins’ punches. It wasn’t long before Martins was able to connect with the knockout blow. Puig, who has won seven of his fights via submission, was too willing to stand with Martins, a veteran fighter with 12 victories by way of some form of knockout.

Puig made an ill-advised decision to stand with a proven knockout artist, and he paid the price for that strategy. Puig found success on the regional circuit, but he has suffered a couple of previous losses. With the loss to Martins, it’s likely that Puig is headed back to the regional shows.

Potential: Low

Guto Inocente — first-round knockout loss to Derrick Lewis

The last time Guto Inocente stepped into the cage, it was 2012 and he was competing as a light heavyweight under the Strikeforce banner. Now, more than two years later, he’s a heavyweight competitor in the UFC. How’d that work out for him? Not so well—he suffered a first-round knockout loss to the much larger Derrick Lewis.

The Blackzilians product might feel more comfortable skipping the weight cut and competing at heavyweight, but he’s really too small for the division. Lewis, a beast who toes the upper limit of the division, steamrolled through him in a matter of minutes and proved that point. Inocente lacked the size or strength to prevent Lewis from bullying him against the cage and on the mat. The Brazilian is a decorated kickboxer, but he didn’t use those skills much out of fear of getting taken down. In fact, the one kick he did throw was caught by Lewis and led to the takedown and finish.

Inocente has a lot of factors working against his success in the MMA world. His choice of divisions will result in a lot of fights against bigger opponents who can use their size edge to nullify Inocente’s offense. He’s also been inconsistent in his fight schedule, which means almost every fight forces him to shed ring rust. He demonstrated what he’s capable of at light heavyweight when he topped Virgil Zwicker under the Strikeforce banner. He’ll have to cut to 205 pounds if he wants to find similar success inside the Octagon. If he opts to stay at heavyweight, his stay in the promotion, if it does extend beyond this defeat, will be a short one.

Potential: Low

Dhiego Lima — first-round knockout loss to Eddie Gordon

Dhiego Lima’s name was one of the most recognizable among The Ultimate Fighter 19 cast and was considered an early favorite on the show. He made it to the finals, but he couldn’t overcome Eddie Gordon, who scored the first-round knockout to end Lima’s TUF aspirations.

Dhiego has a good skill set similar to that of his brother, Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima. The 25-year-old typically fights at welterweight as well, but he shifted to middleweight for his shot on the reality series. Although he stood as the taller fighter against Gordon, he wasn’t able to use his reach to keep Gordon at bay.

This was the first time Lima was stopped in a fight. He has fought some tough competition, and, except for a loss to veteran Nathan Coy, he has always managed to come out on top. Lima has a balanced record that includes four submission wins and three victories via some form of knockout. Lima succumbed to a more aggressive striker who landed with more accuracy. He’ll likely shift down to 170 pounds, where he belongs, for his sophomore UFC appearance. At welterweight, Lima should be able to find more success inside the Octagon.

Potential: Medium

Eddie Gordon — first-round knockout victory over Dhiego Lima

On his path to the TUF finals, Eddie Gordon took a two-round unanimous decision over Matt Gabel, a three-round unanimous verdict over Mike King and a split decision over Cathal Pendred. So, UFC President Dana White was hardly the only one surprised when Gordon needed just 71 seconds to score the knockout victory over Dhiego Lima and claim his TUF prize.

Gordon’s grinding style from the reality series didn’t make an appearance in the finals bout. Instead, Gordon came out aggressive and closed the distance against his taller, longer foe. Gordon found a home for his strikes and put Lima to sleep.

That power and aggressive approach could bring Gordon a lot of success. Gordon’s ability to grind out victories is also an asset. It gives him multiple routes to victory and will keep his opponents guessing. The Ring of Combat vet now has three wins via strikes to go along with three decision victories and a submission win. The “Truck” has dropped a decision, and he almost found himself eliminated from the TUF competition against Pendred.

If Gordon turns up the dial on his aggression and offensive output, he could score some big knockout victories. However, that’s not always the Gordon that makes it to the cage. He has the talent—and the TUF honors—to make a long-term stay in the UFC, but his success will depend on how often he unleashes his fists in the same manner as he did against Lima.

Potential: Medium

Corey Anderson — first-round TKO victory over Matt Van Buren

Corey Anderson’s run through The Ultimate Fighter house was highlighted by strong wrestling performances against Kelly Anundson, Josh Clark and Patrick Walsh, all of whom he defeated on the scorecards. On Sunday night, Anderson put his wrestling aside and opted to destroy his opponent with his fists. The end result was a first-round TKO finish of Matt Van Buren that allowed Anderson to claim the TUF trophy in the light heavyweight division.

Anderson displayed great hands and aggression. Although he relied heavily on his wrestling during the reality series, his official fights have ended quickly by way of TKO.

The 24-year-old has the athleticism and skill set to be a major player in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, but he’s only three fights into his pro career. His grinding wins while in the TUF house show that he still has room to grow. Given what he showed on Sunday night, it’s hard to fathom how Anderson could need three full rounds against someone like Walsh. Perhaps he’s already made a huge leap in skills since he fought Walsh, or perhaps he was just being conservative in an effort to ensure his place in the finals. Regardless, he’s now a TUF champ, and one who has the potential to challenge for the title a few years down the road.

Potential: Medium

Matt Van Buren — first-round TKO loss to Corey Anderson

Matt Van Buren was the unfortunate recipient of Anderson’s sudden rediscovery of his finishing abilities. Just 61 seconds after the opening bell, the referee was saving Van Buren from an onslaught of punches from Anderson, who claimed the TKO victory over his 28-year-old counterpart.

Van Buren was overwhelmed by Anderson and failed to provide any offense or counter Anderson’s aggressive attack. Oddly, while Anderson was decisioning his way through the competition on The Ultimate Fighter 19, Van Buren managed to notch just one decision while scoring two TKO wins of his own.

Van Buren entered the TUF house as an unlikely candidate to make the finals. He was just 1-2 in his last three fights and had gone just 2-2 inside the Bellator cage. He proved to have a sneaky striking attack that allowed him to finish two opponents and edge veteran Chris Fields on the scorecards. Van Buren’s status as a runner-up in the TUF competition all but guarantees a sophomore outing, but his resume suggests that he’s a fighter who could struggle even while facing the lowest levels of UFC competition.

Potential: Low