5 Best UFC Debuts

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and these five fighters made the most of their first UFC appearance.

Paul Daley


(Daley hammers Kampmann.)

Signed by the UFC to a four-fight contract in July 2009, Daley was set to debut at UFC 103 against Brian Foster. Then Mike Swick was suddenly forced to pull out of his marquee matchup with Martin Kampmann, so with two weeks’ notice, Semtex stepped in. He also stepped up, pulverizing “The Hitman” with a torrent of power punches to earn a standing TKO win just 2:31 into the first round.

Todd Duffee

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(Courtesy of Zuffa, LLC)

Duffee was also thrown a curve ball shortly before his debut at UFC 99. Originally scheduled against Mostapha Al Turk, he was pulled in favor of Mirko Filipovic to face fellow UFC newcomer Mike Russow. That changed too when he was yanked from that match to battle Tim Hague. Rather than groan about having to twice change a game plan inside out, Duffee set a new UFC record for the fastest knockout, putting Hague to sleep in just seven seconds.

John Hathaway

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Hathaway was the greenhorn tossed into a hostile environment: UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland to fight the undefeated Tom Egan and a crowd passionately behind their countryman. Instead of melting under adversity, Hathaway earned a dominant TKO win 4:36 into Round 1.

Paulo Thiago


(Thiago celebrates after dispatching Mike Swick.)

This wasn’t a tryout, the lamb was being led to slaughter. Without signing a contract, Thiago agreed to a one-fight deal against veteran top contender Josh Koscheck at UFC 95. The butchering seemed inevitable; UFC commentator Joe Rogan observed that Thiago’s striking looked inferior to his opponent’s.
Rogan and everyone outside of Thiago’s camp were shocked when he connected with a flush right uppercut and left hook that sent Koscheck to the mat with his eyes rolling back. Thiago not only made it into the UFC, he was honored with the Knockout of the Night.

Junior dos Santos


(Cigano learned from the best.)

Fabricio Werdum was a top UFC heavyweight hungry for fresh meat, so Zuffa tabbed an unknown named Junior dos Santos as another step stool. The fight lasted 80 seconds – and dos Santos wasn’t the prey. A vicious right uppercut dropped Werdum to the ground and sent him hightailing out of the UFC.

FIGHT! Fans: Whaddaya think? Who’d we miss?

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