5 incredible short-notice UFC debuts

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The UFC is an incredibly difficult place to make a debut in. We’ve even seen champions from rival promotions arrive there and suffer from ‘octagon shock’. However, some fighters are different.

Over the years, we have seen a number of fighters make impressive debuts in the UFC. Remarkably, a handful of them were able to do this on short notice.

15th July 🌴Submits John Phillips in 372 seconds.25th July 🌴TKOs Rhys McKee in 189 seconds.Khamzat Chimaev already made history on #UFCFightIsland. He’s back to make more tonight… https://t.co/Ao6sDsOZ2v

Whether the short notice took some of the pressure off, or whether they were simply better than their opponents, is always debatable. However, it’s safe to say that some went onto major success in the promotion.

With that considered, here are five incredible short-notice octagon debuts.


#5. Jon Jones – UFC 87

Jon Jones stunned everyone in his short-notice octagon debut at the age of just 20
Jon Jones stunned everyone in his short-notice octagon debut at the age of just 20

These days, Jon Jones is widely recognized as not only the most dominant light heavyweight in MMA history, but also as one of the greatest champions in UFC history, too. Ignoring a debatable disqualification in his 2009 fight with Matt Hamill, ‘Bones’ has essentially never been beaten in the octagon.

However, every fighter has to start somewhere and it’s very easy to forget that while he would eventually become a massive superstar, Jones actually made his debut with the promotion on very late notice at the age of just 20.

Initially, UFC 87’s undercard would’ve seen a light heavyweight bout between middling contenders Tomasz Drwal and Andre Gusmao. However, just 12 days before the event was due to go down, Drwal was forced out with an undisclosed injury.

A number of eyebrows were raised when the promotion named Jones as his replacement. Not only was ‘Bones’ largely unknown, but while he held a record of 6-0, he’d only been fighting professionally for five months at the time.

When it came time to fight, though, it didn’t matter. Jones completely dominated Gusmao en route to a comfortable decision win. He abused the Brazilian in the clinch, took him down on multiple occasions and even nailed him with some unorthodox strikes such as a spinning elbow.

Jon Jones made his UFC debut 13 years ago today ⏳”Bones” defeated Andre Gusmao by unanimous decision on the UFC 87 prelims 🦴 https://t.co/h20mtOCqmn

Sure, the win wasn’t as impressive as the kind of victories Jones would produce in the octagon a little later, but it was still a major eye-opener and sent a message that despite only being 20, ‘Bones’ was for real.

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