Brazil’s Nunes (11-4) is the fourth-ranked fighter in her division, behind Saturday co-main event fighters champion Holly Holm and No. 2-ranked Miesha Tate, and a Saturday night showcase on the UFC 196 pay-per-view portion of the card against Valentina Shevchenko should boost her profile.
Asked if she expects a title shot with a victory, Nunes answered, “Yes, for sure. I think, especially if Ronda doesn’t come back, I have the opportunity. I’ve had some good victories, and after Saturday, I think I’ll be the next.”
Nunes said she hasn’t had a conversation with any UFC executives to know their thinking, but based on Holm’s interest in staying busy and past talks with Tate, the possibility is more than an outside chance.
Nunes, 27, ranks behind Cat Zingano in the UFC rankings and she lost to Zingano in 2014, but Zingano’s 14-second loss to Rousey last year diminishes her position.
In August, Nunes’ victory over former title fighter Sara McMann was voted the performance of the night.
“I’m deserving,” she said. “I’m going to try and finish this fight as fast as I can. And if it goes three rounds, I want to make it a complete victory. Striking all the time. Being active. My goal after this fight is for the belt.”
Mike Brown, Nunes’ coach in Florida, said his fighter is angling to emerge as “the candidate, she’s the one. She’s a killer. She can be mean. She’s got a complete skill set. Good on her feet, good on the ground. It’s a tough, experienced fighter she’s dealing with, and I think she’s going to shine.”
Nunes said she “hopes” Rousey remains sidelined for 2016, “to give me the opportunity.”
From Nunes’ vantage point, Rousey “made mistakes” in her November loss to Holm, “that she’s always made. Holly’s very intelligent. She watched that and had a very good strategy.”
Yet, Nunes said she predicts Tate will defeat Holm Saturday.
“She has a big chance with her ground game and wrestling,” Nunes said. “With a good strategy, you can take a striker out.”