UnderGround Forums Toughest UFC Debut Fights of All Time

7 days ago
1/25/10
Posts: 592

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.

Toughest UFC Debut Fights of All Time

7 days ago
8/31/11
Posts: 2841

Pat Cummins

7 days ago
12/11/05
Posts: 3021
Wanderlei
7 days ago
1/1/01
Posts: 18635
Moti Horenstein.

First fight was against Mark Coleman - granted, Colemans's first fight as well. But a straight karate dude against a ridiculously powerful and skilled wrestler? There was one outcome possible and one only.

Then the poor bastard was matched up with Mark Kerr back when he was steam-rolling everyone in front of him. :-O
7 days ago
1/1/01
Posts: 37142

Good list OP.

Going back in time a little bit:

Ranger Stout debuted vs PRIME Kerr.

John Alessio debuted vs Militech in a title fight.

Chris Condo looked like he had never seen a gym, mat, ring, or cage and he debuted vs Waterman.

Tony Halme debuted vs Randy Couture.

Mo Smith debuted and won vs Coleman in a title fight.

Pete Williams debuted vs Coleman and won.

Chuck Liddell debuted vs Horn.

Babalu and Randleman debuted vs Mo Smith.

Renzo debuted vs Matt Hughes while Renzo was in his mid-40's.

7 days ago
1/1/01
Posts: 37143

Dan Henderson debuted and fought Goes and Newton in the same fucking night.

7 days ago
1/1/01
Posts: 37144

Ricardo Almeida debuted vs Lindland.

Not UFC but PRIDE, 0-0 in MMA, Nastula debuted vs Big Nog and then fought Aleks and Barnett in his 2nd and 4th pro MMA fights.

7 days ago
1/1/01
Posts: 19576

knowing the outcome and how his career detoriated after aside, Joe Lauzon having to debut in the UFC against the lineal ligihtweight champ and a true pioneer in the lightweight division was no joke.

I don't know the complete history, but not sure a lot of guys have faced 7-1 odds in their UFC debut ?

7 days ago
1/25/10
Posts: 593
Chris -

knowing the outcome and how his career detoriated after aside, Joe Lauzon having to debut in the UFC against the lineal ligihtweight champ and a true pioneer in the lightweight division was no joke.

I don't know the complete history, but not sure a lot of guys have faced 7-1 odds in their UFC debut ?

Homer ;)

7 days ago
1/1/01
Posts: 8815
None So Blind - Moti Horenstein.

First fight was against Mark Coleman - granted, Colemans's first fight as well. But a straight karate dude against a ridiculously powerful and skilled wrestler? There was one outcome possible and one only.

Then the poor bastard was matched up with Mark Kerr back when he was steam-rolling everyone in front of him. :-O

Came here to type this almost verbatim. Moti be fucked...

7 days ago
7/8/13
Posts: 2792

Brock Lesnar

7 days ago
1/1/01
Posts: 63466

A local fighter I am really fond of got into the big show and told me he was going against some guy named Johnny Hendricks. I didn't really know who Hendricks was, and asked around. Buddy of mine who went to Juco nationals said "Uh, that guy is really good."

7 days ago
3/13/11
Posts: 4335

Gsp's UFC debut was vs Kyro Parisyan who was 10-2 both loses to sean sherk  

7 days ago
6/19/12
Posts: 7435

Lando Vannata had to fight Tony Ferguson who was 10-1 in the UFC at the time.

Edited: 7 days ago
10/29/12
Posts: 2140

Gilbert Yvel and Struve vs JDS

Kazuhiro Nakamura vs Machida

Pat Cummins vs DC (late replacement)

Illir Latifi vs Mousasi (late replacement - debut for both)

 

7 days ago
9/5/12
Posts: 5349

Askren vs. Lawler

7 days ago
1/17/15
Posts: 1949

Cm punk vs Mickey gall

 

brock vs mir

 

kimbo vs Roy Nelson 

7 days ago
1/19/12
Posts: 31737

Vanata vs. T-Ferg

7 days ago
1/13/11
Posts: 25423

Patrick Cote made his debut against Tito on 4 days notice, thats ain’t an easy debut, especially at that time. 

7 days ago
4/3/16
Posts: 3698

Anderson Silva's UFC debut was tough.....

 

 

 

 

...for Chris Leben 

7 days ago
7/24/14
Posts: 1869

Lina lansburg 

tonya evinger 

yana kunitskya

they were all +700 or more in their debut fight. 

 

Edited: 7 days ago
9/11/19
Posts: 4

Tristan Connelly; perhaps not the TOUGHEST debut but I think he 100% should be recognized (but that may just be hometown bias talking)

7 days ago
10/5/12
Posts: 1324
DollawayGotFistedByAPillow -

Lina lansburg 

tonya evinger 

yana kunitskya

they were all +700 or more in their debut fight. 

 

Great post.

My pick is Art Jimmerson. I think it was a great fight to setup, but remember, no one knew much about BJJ. He was the first guy most people ever saw lose by submission in something that wasn't pro wrestling. The rest of the night most people still thought a striker would win.

7 days ago
4/25/11
Posts: 4218

Trick question...  It has to be Gerard Gordeau vs Teila Tuli.  No Doubt

7 days ago
7/21/18
Posts: 888

Cummings