10 most shocking UFC debuts of the 21st century

Everyone like the element of surprise in sporting activities; it keeps us interested. There would be no use in watching if we knew who would win.

Jon Jones in a file photo [Image- Twitter]
By Blesson Daniel | May 17, 2023 | 6 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

UFC has always been something special, their element of surprise is just of the world. Everyone loves MMA superstars, but there are only a few who shock the world in their debut matches and continue to shock the world with their excellent fighting prowess and skills inside the octagon.

These guys look like common men, but beware if you get in a fight with them, they are gonna destroy you in a way, you or anybody can possibly imagine. These guys are totally harmless, till they get into a fight. So, let’s look back at the 10 most shocking UFC debuts in the 21st century.

10. Charles Oliveira – UFC Live

At UFC Live, Charles Oliveira’s jiu-jitsu skills were put on show versus Darren Elkins. It just took him 41 seconds to seize an armbar and terminate the battle. Elkins is a skilled grappler, and Oliveira’s ability to terminate the fight so swiftly and decisively was amazing. He easily transitioned from a triangle to an armbar and finished with ease. Oliveira was an instant fan favorite and a lightweight to keep an eye on. Oliveira is now displaying his abilities in the featherweight class.

9. Glover Teixeira – UFC 126

Glover Teixeira’s UFC debut has been long sought and anticipated. This is ranked 23rd due to his outperforming the anticipation. The light heavyweight faced Kyle Kingsbury in the Octagon. He was a tough man in his own right, but it immediately became clear that he was out of his league against Teixeira.

Kingsbury was brutally beaten. His hardness kept him alert, but he was never involved in the battle. Teixeira cruelly stopped the bout with an arm-triangle choke at 1:53 of the contest. With a furious performance, he was able to live up to the incredible amount of expectations. Few competitors have achieved that kind of success right out of the gate in the UFC cage.

8. Dan Henderson – UFC 17

Henderson’s UFC debut was shocking and special. For starters, he battled twice in one night. Second, he accomplished so in the face of intense competition. Allan Goes was the first person on the schedule. Henderson pushed him for 15 minutes before winning a unanimous decision to go to the competition finals. He’d meet Carlos Newton there.

Newton was one of the fresh rising stars on the rise, and he possessed all the necessary talent. Henderson and Newton went to the judges, and Henderson won a split decision. While two options may not appear outstanding on paper, they do when seen in context. Henderson won the competition after defeating two extremely strong opponents in one night.

7. Jon Jones – UFC 87

Jon Jones’ UFC career has been incredible. It is amazing not only because he is a dominating champion. It’s not just due to his dominance in the category in 2011. Nonetheless, it is exceptional from the moment he was brought up to the UFC team. Jones fought against Andre Gusmao on short notice. Gusmao was considered to be the fresh young kid in the division when he entered the fray. Jones was only a late substitute against whom Gusmao might compare himself.

Jones, on the other hand, controlled the battle and used some of his now-signature maneuvers, including the spinning back punch, to excite the audience. The beginnings of a meteoric rise to the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship began with a late replacement match against Gusmao.

READ MORE: 10 Most Iconic UFC Octagon Moments

6. Frankie Edgar – UFC 67

Everyone was expecting Tyson Griffin to come out as a lightweight prospect. He was charged with welcoming young New Jersey native Frankie Edgar to the UFC at UFC 67. What we received was one of the best battles in company history, as well as the debut of a future champion.

Edgar squared off against the renowned lightweight. They traded strikes and submission attempts, but Edgar always seemed to come out on top. He appeared out of nowhere, surprising everyone. The fight was the main attraction, and Edgar won by unanimous decision. Stepping up against Griffin and putting on the performance he did propels Edgar’s debut all the way to number seven.

5. Anthony Johnson – Ultimate Fight Night

When Anthony Johnson first entered the UFC, everyone was taken aback. He was a huge welterweight with tremendous speed and power. He was a physical specimen of the highest kind. Chad Reiner had the terrible task of acquainting him with the Octagon. A greeting that only lasted 13 seconds.

Reiner was knocked out by Johnson. That was all that was required. Many rapid knockouts have occurred in UFC history, and many of them made the list. Johnson’s, on the other hand, sticks out. His stature, speed, power, and oncoming buzz all came to a head that night.

4. Vitor Belfort -UFC 12

Vitor Belfort debuted in one of the UFC’s early tournaments at UFC 12 before going on to contend for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 152. Belfort’s ferocity was on show. He won the heavyweight tournament in less than two minutes. Tra Telligman was knocked out in 1:17 of the bout due to a cut produced by Belfort. The Phenom would face Scott Ferrozzo in the finals.

Ferrozzo was unable to complete a full minute inside the cage against Belfort. The bout ended in 43 seconds by TKO. Belfort has remained at the top of his game since UFC 12 and continues to compete at the highest levels, but it all started with two swift finishes.

3. Frank Shamrock -UFC Japan

When an Olympic medallist makes their MMA debut, our senses perk up. We understand the significance of wrestling and the caliber of competitors that compete in the Olympics. We immediately added them to our watch list. Consider how an Olympic gold medallist would be greeted in 1997. You can now imagine what it felt like for Kevin Jackson to defend his UFC Middleweight Championship against Frank Shamrock.

Jackson had easily won the UFC 14 competition. Shamrock, Ken’s younger brother, was making his debut. Shamrock, the first prototype mixed martial fighter, tapped Jackson in 16 seconds with an armbar. It’s difficult to top that type of debut.

2. Royce Gracie – UFC 1

Royce Gracie was picked to represent his family’s jiu-jitsu at the inaugural UFC event, and he did it admirably. Art Jimmerson was up first. Jimmerson had no idea what he was in for and tapped as Gracie got mounted. Jimmerson had had enough of being under the jiu-jitsu instructor at 2:18 into the battle.

Then came Ken Shamrock, the tournament’s other favorite. The semi-final match lasted less than a minute. Shamrock made a critical error, allowing Gracie to choke. Shamrock was forced to tap out, sending Gracie to the first-ever tournament finals.

Gerard Gordeau would be Gracie’s penultimate victim. Gracie would win the event and the enormous cheque at 1:44 with a rear-naked choke. By winning the inaugural UFC event, Gracie elevated jiu-jitsu to the top of the martial arts world and established himself as a legend.

1. Anderson Silva – Ultimate Fight Night 5

Anyone who missed Anderson Silva’s debut at the fifth Ultimate Fight Night would recognize the image of Leben splayed down after taking a knee to the dome. Nobody has ever made a better debut than Silva. Leben was seen as a good first-round opponent for Silva. A steely chin against a powerful hitter. Leben might test Silva to see if he could break.

Instead, Silva pushed through to the other side with a stunning 49-second knockout. He originally down Leben with blows, but referee John McCarthy allowed the fight to continue, and Silva did not immediately try for the finish. It doesn’t matter. Silva resumed his onslaught when Leben stood up, finishing with a well-placed knee.

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