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Starting Out in the Octagon: The 10 Most Impressive UFC Debuts

High prime prospects enter the NBA or NFL with oodles of hype, however UFC fighters don’t have that very same privilege. Whereas a participant like Travon Walker (the #1 choose within the 2022 NFL Draft) might face off with a famous person like Justin Herbert in simply his third recreation, fighters must work their method up the UFC ladder earlier than turning into a sufficiently big title to land on the highest playing cards. Nonetheless, some fighters are so instantly and clearly gifted that they go away an enduring impression from their first battle. As such, these are these fighters. Right here, the ten most notable UFC debuts.

1. Anderson Silva, Final Battle Night time 5

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Having began his profession on the now-defunct Satisfaction Combating Championship circuit, Silva joined the UFC after signing a multi-fight contract with them in April 2006. He made his debut a number of months later, taking up Chris Leben, a reasonably distinguished fighter who received the primary season of the truth present The Final Fighter. As half one of the crucial spectacular UFC debuts ever, Silva beat the stuffing out of Leben, touchdown 85% of his strikes and knocking him out with a knee strike after simply 49 seconds. Following his decimation of Leben, Silva went on to develop into probably the greatest and most embellished fighters of all time, holding the Middleweight championship belt for two,457 days, the longest title reign in UFC historical past.

2. Royce Gracie, UFC 1

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  • Artwork Jimmerson, submission (smother choke)

  • Ken Shamrock, submission (rear bare choke)

  • Gerard Gordeau, submission (rear bare choke)

In its early days, UFC occasions had been staged as openweight tournaments, bringing collectively one of the best fighters from a number of totally different disciplines to battle for the title of the Final Combating Champion. For the primary occasion, the 6’0, 175 pound Royce Gracie (a member of the legendary Brazilian jiu-jitsu Gracie household) participated to indicate how his household’s methods may succeed in opposition to opponents of any measurement. At UFC 1 in November 1993, Gracie took down three a lot bigger opponents in successive order, demonstrating the grappling abilities that his household had pioneered and mastered. In consequence, Gracie established himself as one of many first UFC stars. To wit, his household’s legacy makes him one of the crucial influential fighters as properly.

3. Jon “Bones” Jones, UFC 87

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From the second Jon “Bones” Jones stepped into the octagon, it was clear that he was totally different. Whereas most UFC debuts happen after years of beneath the radar preparation and coaching, Jones agreed to his first battle on two-weeks discover, simply three months after he started competing in combined martial arts; he fought at UFC 87 in August 2008 after turning professional in April of that very same yr. Though Jones couldn’t safe a knockout, the talents and strikes (comparable to his signature spinning backhand) that made him such a sensation had been instantly on show. Over the following few years, Jones would go 26-1, because the youngest and most dominant UFC champion. Sadly, his profession was derailed by a sequence of failed drug assessments.

4. Conor McGregor, UFC on Gas TV: Mousasi vs. Latifi

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Earlier than he turned the Infamous CMG, McGregor was a buzzy fighter on Eire’s Cage Warriors MMA circuit. Again in 2013, UFC head Dana White signed McGregor throughout a go to to Eire. In doing so, White kicked off the profession of one of many UFC’s most well-known (and notorious) figures. In April 2013, McGregor took on Marcus Brimage in his UFC debut. Inside minutes, McGregor shortly punched him out. In consequence, McGregor’s profile exploded quickly thereafter, catapulting him from relative anonymity to international stardom. Predictably, his success within the cage paired along with his gregarious persona made him the primary crossover UFC star. At his peak, McGregor was the uncommon fighter who may seize the general public zeitgeist past the octagon. At this level, McGregor’s celeb standing might even exceed his appreciable preventing skills, which is a testomony to each his self-promoting prowess and his UFC report.

5. Junior Dos Santos, UFC 90

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Getting into UFC 90 in October 2008, no one critically anticipated Dos Santos to win. On the time, he was a relative unknown, dealing with Fabricio Werdum, who was thought-about probably the greatest heavyweights on the earth. Nonetheless, Dos Santos shocked the world by making fast work of Werdum. The truth is, he received the battle in simply 80 seconds with a first-round TKO. On account of his dominant exhibiting in opposition to Werdum, Dos Santos was placed on a fast-track to UFC stardom and claimed the heavyweight belt simply three years later.

6. Ronda Rousey, UFC 157

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Like Anderson Silva, Rousey was already a longtime fighter by the point she joined the UFC; due to her Strikeforce success, she was an enormous -1000 favourite at UFC 157, which is unprecedented in UFC debuts. Making historical past on the time, Rousey turned the primary lady to ever headline a UFC occasion in February 2013 after UFC purchased Strikeforce. Rousey dealt with Liz Carmouche with out an excessive amount of issue, profitable the match along with her signature armbar submission.

7. Nick Diaz, UFC 44: Undisputed

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Earlier than he turned one of the crucial in style fighters within the UFC, Nick Diaz was as soon as simply an unknown, small-time scrapper from Stockton, California preventing on preliminary playing cards. UFC 44 in September 2003 was a glamor occasion, headlined by big-name fighters; Diaz wasn’t one in every of them—his battle was the second on a nine-fight preliminary card in the course of the center of the afternoon. In an thrilling, shut battle, Diaz lastly put down Jackson with an armbar within the closing spherical, sealing an emotional win simply days after his girlfriend dedicated suicide.

8. Frank Shamrock, UFC 14

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The youthful brother of early UFC star Ken Shamrock, Frank had one of the crucial eye-opening UFC debuts of any fighter in July 1997. Regardless of getting into the battle as a heavy underdog in opposition to Kevin Jackson (the 1992 Olympic gold medalist in wrestling), Shamrock pressured Jackson to faucet out in simply 16 seconds. From there, Shamrock would go on to equal and even surpass his brother’s accomplishments, though the 2 sadly by no means obtained to go head-to-head within the octagon.

9. Vitor Belfort, UFC 12

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At simply 19 years-old, Belfort turned one of many youngest fighters ever to make their UFC debuts. What’s extra, he turned one of many youngest heavyweight champions ever. Whereas collaborating in one of many final tournament-style playing cards that the UFC would arrange, Belfort made mincemeat of his two opponents, TKOing each Telligman and Ferrozzo in a grand complete of 120 seconds. Though Belfort’s peripatetic profession that featured pit stops in PRIDE, Strikeforce, Cage Rage and Affliction prevented him from turning into an internal circle UFC legend like different fighters on the record, he’s nonetheless thought to be one of many best combined martial artists of the previous few a long time.

10. Daniel Cormier, UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez

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Crossing over from the Strikeforce promotion in 2013 after a half-dozen fights, Cormier made his UFC debut a memorable one. Taking up Frank Mir, Cormier held off the previous heavyweight champ to safe the victory after the battle went the gap. Accordingly, Cormier cemented his fame as one of many prime heavyweights within the promotion, which was made much more spectacular by the truth that he was a newcomer to the UFC. Constructing on that statement-making April 2013 battle, Cormier would go on to develop into one of the crucial completed and distinctive fighters on the circuit. He’s one in every of simply two fighters to carry titles in two totally different weight courses concurrently, claiming the sunshine heavyweight belt in 2017 after which the heavyweight belt in 2018. What’s extra, he’s additionally the one fighter to efficiently defend his belt in two weight courses.




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