Fighters from around the globe dream of the day they’ll step into the UFC octagon for the first time. For seven athletes, Wednesday’s UFC on ESPN 20 event marked that special moment in their career.

Check out this week’s rookie report to see what kind of first impression they made on the sport’s biggest stage from the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.

Manon Fiorot

Division: Women’s flyweight
Result: Manon Fiorot def. Victoria Leonardo via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:08
Record: 6-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC
Grade: A

Manon Fiorot blasted her way into the UFC’s women’s flyweight division in style with a superb second-round TKO finish of fellow debutante Victoria Leonardo.

Fiorot’s height and reach advantage gave her the edge early on as she picked off Leonardo with solid southpaw jabs and the occasional powerful kick. After initially working from the outside, Fiorot soon stepped inside, took charge of the center of the cage and began to light up her opponent with strikes.

One combination appeared to put Leonardo in big trouble, but rather than keeping her distance and picking her strikes, Fiorot got a little overexcited and crowded her own work by stepping too close and eventually finding herself in the clinch. It potentially robbed the French fighter of a first-round stoppage.

Fiorot went back to working from the outside at the start of Round 2 and repeatedly found her mark with her well-timed strikes as she made sure she was never in Leonardo’s optimal striking range, either by staying outside, or stepping into the clinch. It effectively nullified Leonardo’s offense and ensured Fiorot held the upper hand throughout the fight.

After impressing with her strikes, Fiorot then showed that she’s happy to take the action to the mat as she executed a double-leg takedown, though she eventually opted to bring the action back to the stand-up. It proved to be a good decision as she landed a big head kick, backed up her opponent against the fence, then blasted her with a barrage of punches until the fight was eventually waved off.

It was a superb performance from the French newcomer, who looks like a potential contender in the making at 125 pounds. After finishing a fellow newcomer, tougher, more experienced tests surely await.

Victoria Leonardo

Division: Women’s flyweight
Result: Manon Fiorot def. Victoria Leonardo via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:08
Record: 8-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC
Grade: D

It proved to be a baptism of fire for Victoria Leonardo in her octagon debut.

The American drew fellow newcomer Manot Fiorot in her first UFC appearance, and found herself outsized and outgunned by the taller, slicker, more powerful athlete.

Leonardo found herself on the receiving end early, as the French athlete dominated the early exchanges with her striking from range. But Leonardo hung tough and connected with a big right hand midway through the round to remind her opponent that she wanted to be a factor in the striking exchanges, too. But overall, it was a tough opening five minutes for Leonardo, who found herself struggling with her unraveling hair, as well as her opponent’s strikes.

After some solid advice from her corner, Leonardo came out more aggressively at the start of Round 2 and looked to close the distance before letting off her strikes. But she could only stand with her opponent for so long and, after returning to her feet following a takedown by Fiorot, Leonardo was badly rocked by a head kick, then finished with strikes as her maiden octagon appearance ended in a TKO defeat.

After a tough introduction to life in the UFC against a fighter who looks ready for bigger-name opposition already, Leonardo will be hoping to establish herself in her next outing.

Sergey Morozov

Division: Bantamweight
Result: Umar Nurmagomedov def. Sergey Morozov via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 3:39
Record: 16-4 MMA, 0-1 UFC
Grade: D

Matched against a big-name newcomer, Sergey Morozov battled gamely with much-hyped Russian Umar Nurmagomedov, but ultimately found himself second-best in all areas as his octagon debut ended in defeat.

Morozov struggled to establish his striking against Nurmagomedov in Round 1 and found it tough to switch up his approach to give his opponent different looks. It meant Morozov found himself playing defense throughout much of the fight, rather than forcing Nurmagomedov onto the back foot.

Morozov was badly rocked at the start of Round 2 after taking a big high kick to the head. But he showed remarkable powers of recovery as he somehow managed to battle through Nurmagomedov’s onslaught. However, despite showing his dogged determination during the striking exchanges, Morozov eventually succumbed to Nurmagomedov’s grappling as he was taken to the mat and submitted with a rear-naked choke.

As debut assignments go, he couldn’t have drawn a much tougher test, and it will be interesting to see if he can use the experience of his unsuccessful debut to help him to victory next time out.

Umar Nurmagomedov

Division: Bantamweight
Result: Umar Nurmagomedov def. Sergey Morozov via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 3:39
Record: 13-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC
Grade: A

After a few false starts and shifted bookings, Umar Nurmagomedov finally made his octagon debut at UFC on ESPN 20 and served up an impressive performance to mark his arrival in the UFC bantamweight division with a submission victory.

Nurmagomedov settled into his striking early, working his kicks and switching the occasional low kick up toward his opponent’s head as he looked to establish his striking early against the fellow debutant.

But, as you might expect, Nurmagomedov was equally happy to get to work on the ground and, with the seconds counting down at the end of Round 1, he landed a perfectly timed takedown to finish the round on top.

Nurmagomedov started Round 2 with a bang as he landed a big front-foot leg kick that put Morozov on wobbly legs. But, despite swarming his man and connecting with a series of shots from the clinch, he wasn’t quite able to put his man away.

Nurmagomedov didn’t panic, however, and eventually switched gears to take his man to the mat. This time, there was plenty of time left in the round and he kept the pressure on, took Morozov’s back and put him to sleep with a tight rear-naked choke to claim an impressive win in his long-awaited octagon debut.

Mason Jones

Division: Lightweight
Result: Mike Davis def. Mason Jones via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Record: 10-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC
Grade: B-

Mason Jones stepped into the cage looking relaxed and ready, and showed a complete lack of nerves as he went toe-to-toe with hard-hitting Mike Davis for the full three-round duration in a hugely entertaining octagon debut.

Jones showcased a granite chin as he took the very best strikes Davis could muster, and just kept on firing back. Even a spectacular knee to the chin in the final seconds of the opening round appeared to have little-to-no effect on the Welshman.

But while he was taking plenty of shots from Davis, Jones made sure he dished out plenty of his own as he connected with big punches and solid kicks as he refused to bow to Davis’ power strikes.

As the pace of the fight started to drop in Round 2, Jones started to up his work rate and find a home for his punches as he forced Davis onto the back foot with some slick combinations, with his uppercut having particular success. Even after he had his mouthpiece knocked out by a big Davis shot, he still managed to take his man down and finish the round on top as the buzzer sounded.

Round 3 saw Jones go toe-to-toe with Davis once again as the pair battled all the way to the scorecards. After a grueling, gritty three round war, the result was far from certain as the pair waited for the verdict. But in the end, Jones lost a unanimous decision, and his undefeated record, after the judges gave it to Davis with 29-28 scores on all three cards.

However, despite starting his career with a defeat, Jones certainly did more than enough to prove that he’s an exciting, dangerous addition to the lightweight division. Daniel Cormier described Jones as “unbelievably durable and insanely tough.” That pretty much covers it. There are certainly areas for improvement, most notably in his defense, but with the Welshman still only 25 years of age, “The Dragon’s” best years are still ahead of him.

Francisco Figueiredo

Division: Flyweight
Result: Francisco Figueiredo def. Jerome Rivera via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Record: 12-3-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC
Grade: B

The comparisons were flowing thick and fast from the commentary box as Francisco Figueiredo, brother of UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo, made his octagon debut against Jerome Rivera.

Figueiredo looked exceptionally calm and composed on his first UFC appearance as he picked apart Rivera with ease from range, then stepped in and took the action to the mat and stayed active from the top with powerful punches and slashing elbows during an impressive first round on the big stage.

There were moments during the fight where Figueiredo almost seemed to pause his work to assess his next move, as he produced a nerveless, methodical display to dominate his opponent through Round 2 while ensuring he avoided danger from the submission specialist’s ground game. On the negative side, while Figueiredo picked his shots well from the stand-up, he seemed a little too happy to throw single shots and admire his work, rather than follow up on his successful strikes.

The Brazilian was made to work late on in the bout as Rivera pushed hard to take Figueiredo to the mat and set up a submission in Round 3. But the newcomer kept cool under pressure and, despite a late flurry of strikes, and a takedown, from the American, Figueiredo rode out the pressure to take the fight to the scorecards, where he picked up a unanimous decision with scores of 29-28 on all three cards.

It wasn’t the same sort of explosive, high-octane performance we’ve come to expect from his brother, but Figueiredo showed some solid technique and a rock-solid fight mentality as he calmly negotiated his first test on the big stage. The big question now is just how high can he go?

Gaetano Pirrello

Division: Bantamweight
Result: Ricky Simon def. Gaetano Pirrello via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 4:00
Record: 15-6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC
Grade: D

Faced with the high-pressure approach of Ricky Simon, Belgian newcomer Gaetano Pirrello was presented with a nightmare test of his credentials on his octagon debut, and it proved to be too much, too early as he suffered a second-round submission defeat.

Gaetano was forced onto the back foot almost immediately as he was forced back against the cage, and eventually, down to the canvas, by Simon’s irresistible pressure.

After a tough first round, Pirrello looked to up his own intensity in Round 2 as he stepped in and connected with a big knee up the middle that appeared to catch Simon flush on the chin. But it wasn’t enough to stem the tide as Pirrello was once again taken down and dominated on the mat by Simon, whose relentless pace was just too hot to handle for the debutant.

Pirrello didn’t fold under that spell of pressure, but eventually was forced to succumb to an arm-triangle choke after being slammed to the mat and choked by Simon, who simply wouldn’t be denied.

Ultimately, it was too stern a test for the debuting Belgian. But, after tasting life in the octagon against a rising contender, Pirrello will look to use the experience as he attempts to pick up his first UFC win next time around.

In pictures: UFC on ESPN 20

In pictures: UFC on ESPN 20 scorecards