We often hear about the Octagon jitters -- the devastating adrenaline dump that affects UFC debutantes -- in the abstract or as a hypothetical mentioned by Joe Rogan during a fight, now we've got two confirmed cases.
First up Xavier "Professor X" Foupa-Pokam confesses to MMA Weekly that he wasn't 100% himself against Denis Kang:
"I was feeling very great in the locker-room, and just before the corridor to the path to the Octagon," Foupa-Pokam told MMAWeekly.com. "Then, I started to feel tense and didn't fight the way I should have. I wasn't lucid; I was short of breath."
Capoeria stylist Andre Gusmao tells UFC.com describes his loss to Jon Jones:
"I saw myself having trouble finding the correct distance and it opened gaps for Jones," he says, "but I can’t deny, UFC is a dream and I felt when I stepped into the Octagon, I froze. I came from a competitive league, but UFC is a different environment and I felt the adrenaline and pressure and could not manage"
The psychologically overwhelming reality of fighting in the famous Octagon for the first time, in the spotlight, on the biggest stage in the MMA world is something those of us who critique from the safety of our sofas should never discount.
Both of these guys will have a second chance to overcome the Octagon jitters at UFC 98 and I'll be rooting for both of them. Professor X will face Drew McFedries on the main card and Gusmao will be up against TUF and IFL veteran Krzysztof Soszynski.