It has been noted by many debuting UFC fighters that their first fight in the organization is a tough experience. Some fighters can be seen overcome with emotion while making their walk to the cctagon, while others are obviously nervous. A UFC debut is the culmination of a fighter’s hard work and dedication to MMA. It has been proven time and time again that “octagon jitters” are real. For some fighters, however, a debut is made more challenging by even harder circumstances. In no particular order, here are the toughest fights of all time for a fighter making their UFC debut.
Toughest UFC Debut Fights of All Time
Joe Soto vs. TJ Dillashaw
Although he was the inaugural Bellator featherweight champion, Joe Soto was still relatively unknown when he signed with the UFC. Nonetheless, Soto was riding a six-fight win streak after moving to bantamweight. Soto was set to face Anthony Birchak in his UFC debut, a bout scheduled to open the night’s preliminary card. The event was expected to be headlined by TJ Dillashaw and Renan Barao in a bantamweight title rematch of one of the greatest upsets in UFC history. However, right before weigh-ins, Barao lost consciousness cutting weight and was removed from the event. The UFC called on Soto to fill in on about 24 hours’ notice to save the card. While Soto did end up getting stopped in the fifth round, he did hold his own against the champion.
Unfortunately for Soto, that was not indicative for the trajectory of his UFC career. Soto was cut from the organization in 2018 after going 3-5, including a first-round knockout loss to Birchak in his second UFC appearance.
Check out the full list below.