Coach Mike Brown: Amanda Nunes matches up well with Ronda Rousey
Bantamweight contender Amanda Nunes hasn't worked with American Top Team and coach Mike Brown for very long. In fact, Brown tells FOX Sports that "The Lioness" only got a full training camp in with him in preparation for her most recent bout -- a KO win over Sara McMann.
Nunes wanted to improve her wrestling and grappling, and Brown says she did that in spades. However, he admits that the Brazilian came to him as a highly tuned and dangerous fighter.
"She was already a really talented striker with a good feel for range, and natural punching power," he says.
"Actually, she has the most power of any girl I've ever seen."
That power served Nunes well against the former title challenger McMann, as she stopped her with a big right hand. Nunes' takedown defense -- which began with her excellent footwork -- also played a big role in the win, however.
"She improved her wrestling tremendously," Brown continues.
"She is so hard to take down, even for a guy with wrestling who is around the same size as her. Especially when she uses good footwork."
Brown was a wrestler in college before going on to become the WEC 145-pound world champion, years ago. After retiring from competition, he switched to coaching, full-time.
He was a perfect fit for Nunes since she was looking to counter a wrestler in Olympic silver medalist McMann. Though Nunes' takedown defense wasn't perfect, her coach was happy to see how she reacted to getting taken down.
"At a certain point in the fight she got a little wild, or courageous, whatever it is, and she began to throw fancy kicks and got taken down off of them. What we got to see is that McMann couldn't hold her down once she did take her down," he explained.
"Amanda was able to pop her hips out and get free, which is huge."
With the win, Nunes propelled herself to the top of the 135-pound contenders list. Former champion Miesha Tate is up next for Ronda Rousey, but after stopping McMann and having an impressive first round a year ago against another title challenger Cat Zingano, Nunes is in the title discussion.
Brown gives Rousey all credit due, but likes the matchup between Nunes and the champ. "I like it. Ronda is a phenom and what she's doing is amazing, remarkable. I think that, especially in terms of style, Nunes has the best style to beat Ronda out of all the girls in the top 10," he announced.
"Amanda is a polished striker and she has enough grappling to keep herself out of harm’s way if it comes to Judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. That's actually what her background is. She just picked up striking really fast. She's a slick athlete. Sara McMann is also a great athlete, which is what makes that performance so impressive."
Nunes' loss to Zingano came before she worked with ATT and Brown. Ultimately, though the loss was a letdown, Nunes' coach thinks that it may have been a blessing in disguise as now the contender has had time to improve a great deal.
"If she'd have won the Cat fight she likely would have already gotten the title fight," he reasoned.
"She wasn't in the best shape for that fight and she thought that she had Cat out so she turned the gas up a little too high and didn't ease back when she should have. She kept burning too much energy. It was good that she lost in some ways because now she's learned, she's with us, at a new gym with new sparring partners and new ideas. There's always a big learning curve whenever you go to a new gym, with new brains. But, Amanda is fitting right in and doing tremendously."