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 170.

Ernest Chavez — split decision win over Yosdenis Cedeno

After an undefeated, six-fight career that spanned more than four years, Ernest Chavez finally earned his way into the Octagon at UFC 170. In the evening’s opening contest, the California native eked out a split verdict over fellow UFC newcomer Yosdenis Cedeno.

Chavez displayed an effective wrestling game and excellent ground control, but the level of his competition has to be taken into account. Cedeno lacked the necessary skills to deal with the strengths in Chavez’s game. Though the scorecards read as a split decision, the one judge who leaned in Cedeno’s favor has to be called into question. This was a clear victory for Chavez, but it didn’t prove that he’s ready to compete at the UFC level.

Chavez entered this fight after winning a BAMMA USA title, but the lightweight isn’t going to be able to bully the majority of the UFC’s roster in the same manner as he did against Cedeno. The win guarantees that he’ll stick around for at least one more fight inside the Octagon, but don’t look for him to make many waves.

Potential: Low

Yosdenis Cedeno — split decision loss to Ernest Chavez

If Ernest Chavez earns a low-potential mark with his win over Yosdenis Cedeno, it should come as no surprise that Cedeno also lands in the same realm of low potential. The 29-year-old couldn’t overcome Chavez’s wrestling and top control, and that’s not a good sign when entering into a tough lightweight division.

Cedeno’s haircut is somewhat symbolic of his tendencies in the cage. There’s a lot of flash, but little else to fall back on. Cedeno has an exciting striking attack, but it failed to create opportunities for him against Chavez. Cedeno’s real problem lies in his horrible skills on the ground. If opponents can get Cedeno to the mat and gain top control, they’ll score points with ease—again, it’s surprising Cedeno managed to convince one judge of his superiority in this contest.

A lot of fans may point to Patrick Cummins, who was destroyed by Daniel Cormier in the evening’s co-headliner, as the most likely of the evening’s newcomers to be a one-and-done guy, but Cedeno is actually the more likely bet. His striking failed to shine at any point in the fight, and his ground game just wasn’t there.

Potential: Low

Aljamain Sterling — unanimous decision win over Cody Gibson

Aljamain Sterling has been called the bantamweight Jon Jones. His unanimous decision win over Cody Gibson leaves him undefeated through nine fights and gets him off to a good start in his UFC tenure, but the comparisons to Jones can best be summed up as a reach. Yes, he is athletic and has an undefeated record, but he didn’t exhibit the impressive skill set that had led Jones to UFC gold. That doesn’t mean Sterling lacks the potential to succeed inside the Octagon, however.

Sterling’s wrestling offense and his grappling were enough to carry him to victory over a very tough fellow UFC newcomer. Where the comparisons to Jones fail to hold up is in Sterling’s style. The 24-year-old is a much more straightforward wrestler and striker than Jones has ever been. He doesn’t have a lanky reach to aid his attack—Gibson, in fact, used length with more effectiveness in their encounter—nor does he rely on kicks or unorthodox spinning attacks. Even Sterling’s defensive wrestling falls short. Jones stands as the most effective fighter in the UFC at defending against takedowns, but Sterling lost the battle against Gibson on multiple occasions.

Youth and athleticism can take a fighter a long way. Sterling, with Matt Serra barking instructions in his corner, has all of the ingredients to stake out a claim to a permanent spot on the UFC roster. However, he doesn’t have the same elite ingredients as Jones to become a long-reigning UFC champion. Sterling will most likely settle in as a mid-tier fighter within the bantamweight division. If he can find a way to strengthen his takedown defense, round out his striking and increase his success in finishing submission attempts, he could flirt with contendership.

Potential: Medium

Cody Gibson — unanimous decision loss to Aljamain Sterling

There are some perks to being a short-notice replacement in an UFC fight. One of the biggest perks is that the fighter will often be granted a second chance, even if they lose. In the case of Cody Gibson, an impressive first showing, even in defeat, certainly helps his case for a sophomore appearance inside the Octagon. Gibson may have lost via unanimous decision to Aljamain Sterling, but the grit and skill he showed in their battle should have earned him kudos from UFC President Dana White and matchmaker Sean Shelby.

Gibson was able to demonstrate two flaws in Sterling’s game—shoddy takedown defense and the tendency to leave an opening for a solid kick to the face when scrambling back to his feet. Unfortunately for Gibson, he wasn’t able to land those kicks and failed to deliver too much offense on the mat as he worked hard to keep Sterling down. Gibson did press the action throughout the contest, however, by staying in Sterling’s face while the two traded punches and by seeking takedowns when the opportunity arose.

In one word, Gibson is tough. He wasn’t intimidated by the hype that accompanied Sterling. He scored points with his takedowns and remained competitive for the entire bout. That toughness was also on display in Gibson’s ability to ride out bad positions. He defended well against multiple submission attempts from his adversary.

Gibson now has four losses on his record—and the misfortune of suffering one of those losses at the hand of Hulk Hogan’s nephew, David Bollea. Yet, Gibson is a tough scrapper in the same vein as a Matt Brown. Will he be as successful as Brown? That’s doubtful, but his gritty style should serve him well as a competitive gatekeeper in the UFC’s bantamweight division.

Potential: Low to Medium

Pedro Munhoz — unanimous decision loss to Raphael Assuncao

It’s never easy to make a UFC debut against a guy who is maybe one or two fights away from a title shot. Resurrection Fighting Alliance bantamweight champion found out as much when he emerged on the wrong end of a unanimous decision against high-ranked foe Raphael Assuncao.

Just last month, Munhoz was making his first defense of the RFA gold that he had claimed a fight earlier with a victory against Jeff Curran. He submitted Billy Daniels in just 41 seconds and punched his ticket to the UFC. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt’s fight with Assuncao didn’t feature any of his vaunted ground game, however. The two grapplers opted to engage in a kickboxing match, and Assuncao proved to be the better striker. Munhoz, who scored his first two pro victories with his fists, was able to hold his own against Assuncao and will likely do the same against all but the best strikers in the division.

The 27-year-old looked comfortable inside the Octagon with a top-10 opponent. Against lesser grapplers, Munhoz will use his judo and jiu-jitsu background to bring fights to the canvas, where he should find great success. Munhoz’s grappling is at a level where he needs to be less hesitant to use it against even a fellow jiu-jitsu practitioner like Assuncao. Once he overcomes that mental hurdle, he will find a decent amount of success in the UFC and may even challenge for a title.

Potential: Medium to High

Patrick Cummins — first-round TKO loss to Daniel Cormier

If Pedro Munhoz had it tough in his debut, just imagine how Patrick Cummins felt. After stepping in to replace Rashad Evans, the debuting light heavyweight did his best to hype his fight with Daniel Cormier as a grudge match. What he couldn’t do, however, was to convince anyone that he had something beyond a puncher’s chance in a fight against Cormier. In just 79 seconds, Cormier put an end to Cummins via TKO.

Cummins demonstrated very little in his fight with Cormier. It was apparent that he believed in that puncher’s chance and went all out in an attempt to deliver a stunning knockout. The 33-year-old has been a finisher throughout his brief career, so the strategy was certainly the best move on his part, even if it failed.

The UFC has to be grateful to Cummins for his willingness to step up, and even more so in his ability to promote this fight and keep fans interested. The smile on UFC President Dana White’s face as Cummins and Cormier traded barbs on national television speaks volumes to the likelihood that Cummins receives an invite back into the Octagon.

Against lower-level competition, Cummins did score a pair of TKO victories and a pair of submission wins, all in the first round. It’s a huge leap from that level of opposition to a fight against the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner and highly ranked heavyweight-turned-light-heavyweight, and Cummins obviously isn’t ready for that yet. However, if his next outing comes against a debuting UFC fighter or a mid-tier fighter further down the ladder than Cormier, Cummins could start to build a resume and establish himself as a competitive 205er at the UFC level. He probably won’t contend for a title, but he could post some exciting finishes during his UFC stay.

Potential: Low to Medium