We’ve heard it a hundred times before, but its significance cannot be overlooked.
Octagon jitters are a real thing, and they have affected numerous fighters making their promotional debut.
Top-level fighters such as Shogun Rua, Jake Shields and Takanori Gomi have all had rough Octagon debuts over the past five years or so, and while some chalk up those performances to injury, age or a variety of other reasons, you can’t count out the effect that stepping into the world’s premier organization has had on fighters in the past.
Later this month, former Strikeforce champion and current top-ranked heavyweight Alistair Overeem will step into the UFC for the first time in his career, and while many fans have been looking forward to an exciting bout against Brock Lesnar, they may be disappointed if Overeem is unable to get over the rush that comes with fighting inside the Octagon.
Lesnar is actually a great example of how the dreaded “Octagon jitters” can ruin a UFC debut.
Back at UFC 81, Lesnar came out and started to dominate Frank Mir, but his adrenaline got the best of him and he became sloppy, allowing Mir to lock in a fight-ending leg lock early in the bout.
While some fans point to a step up in competition as a better reason as to why these fighters seem to come out flat and under-perform in their promotional debut, fighters like Shogun and Lesnar have proven that they were able to come back strong after their initial setbacks.
Overeem is a force of nature, but with his current issues with the athletic commission lingering over his head and the inevitable pressure of stepping into the UFC cage for a massive PPV main event may cause him to put on a weak performance, and Lesnar will end up benefiting from it.