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Coach: Amanda Nunes' striking is 'light years ahead' of Ronda Rousey's

Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Few people ever mentioned Amanda Nunes as a worthy title challenger for Ronda Rousey before this past Saturday. But after watching her dazzling display against Sara McMann, they certainly are now. Nunes blew the doors off of McMann at UFC Fight Night 73, stopping the Olympic medalist with a rear-naked choke in less than three minutes, instantly vaulting her name into title contention.

Nunes is now 4-1 in the UFC. More impressively, all four of those victories ended inside the first round.

So when asked Monday whether his young pupil was ready for the challenge Rousey brings, American Top Team coach Mike Brown didn't hesitate in his response.

"In my opinion, I think she is. I think her stand-up is light years ahead of Ronda's," the former WEC champ said on The MMA Hour. "But obviously Ronda is super talented. The best. [Amanda] would have to use good footwork and score and move and try to stay off the ground, because Ronda is a phenom on the ground. But I don't think Ronda's stand-up is at Amanda's level."

Miesha Tate is the likely front runner for the next shot at Rousey's bantamweight title, but Nunes (11-4) has long been a dark horse in waiting. She exploded into the public consciousness in 2011 with a 14-second knockout of Julia Budd in Strikeforce, and has seemingly improved with every incremental step since.

Her quartet of early UFC stoppages include a first-round TKO over Rousey's good friend Shayna Baszler. And even in her only Octagon stumble, Nunes nearly put Cat Zingano away early before succumbing to a volley of third-round strikes.

"She's only been with us for the last couple fights, but I'll say, 100-percent, this is the first girl I've ever seen in the gym where I looked and I was like, whoa," Brown said. "I've seen her literally stop guys in the gym. Like, beating dudes up, making guys quit in the stand-up. And she, from an early age, has a grappling background.

"But I've seen her, like, make dudes quit (while) kickboxing in the gym. It's impressive. ... Professional fighters who are very tough, she's beating up, and she can be mean too. She's getting after them and the guys are timid, and she's like the alpha, for sure. It's pretty crazy."

Nunes' latest romp over McMann propelled her into the No. 4 spot on the UFC's media-generated women's bantamweight rankings. And there's not much more higher she'll need to get.

Even if the UFC decides to go forth with a Rousey-Tate trilogy, the general lack of depth in the division means that one more good win is likely all Nunes would need to land the next shot at the title.

"I think she could beat Ronda now," Brown said. "I don't know, maybe you try to build her a little more and get her a little more experience? But she's more than capable."

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