Photo Credits: Photos 1 and 2: Tom Bear
Photos 3 and 4: Sherdog
Photos 5: Sportcenter MMA
Julie Kedzie has a resume full of opponents that can match anyones. She has fought a who's who of women's MMA. She adds to that list on August 18th when she steps into the Strikeforce cage to battle former champion Miesha Tate. While Kedzie obviously prefers to stand, she is more than capable of handling herself if Tate takes it to the ground. While she hasn't fought herself in almost a year, she has been training and is surely ready for this fight, one that could be a show stealer.
Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the sport?
A: Well, I have always been involved in Martial Arts. I was a student of traditional Martial Arts, Tae-Kwon Do, for years and years. I was testing for my third degree black belt when I was about twenty-two years old. They require you cross-train in multiple arts. I discovered that I loved Muay-Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I knew my real love was going to be competitive fighting and MMA. I had my first fight in 2004 and have been fighting ever since?
Q: Do you remember anything about that first fight, being nervous or anything?
A: I was very nervous. I was kind of excited because the first all-female fight show I had seen was Hook-N-Shoot that featured Debi Purcell and Tara LaRosa and all these amazing females. It was my first exposure, so when I was offered a fight with them I was super excited. It was against Terry Blair who is a boxer. Whats cool about that is my own teammate, Holly Holm, that was her debut boxing fight, against Terry Blair. So her debut in boxing was against the same person as my debut in MMA.
Q: What advice would you give to a younger girl thinking about fighting?
A: I would tell her to surround yourself with the right people. Good training is essential, but the art is what you need to fall in love with, not the fame or attention, because that may never come. Be patient and surround yourself with people who will help guide you. Use your experience in MMA as a foundation for becoming a better person, or it wont be worth it. You might get some fame or money, and that is happening more for women, but it will be an empty experience unless you are in love with it.
Q: You are fighting Miesha Tate, how do you feel you match up with her?
A: I think I match up very well with Miesha Tate. It is no secret I like to hit people and she likes to wrestle people, but we both have strengths in other areas. My ground game isn't often highlighted because I like to stay on my feet. I have improved a lot on the ground. I think it will be a really good fight between two athletic women.
Q: If it does go to the ground, I assume you are confident you can hang with her?
A: Yeah, I am extremely confident.
Q: Taking away your striking, besides that, is there somewhere else where you feel you hold the advantage with her?
A: I would say my advantage is the time I have put into the sport, being who I am and the people around me. I wouldn't go into a fight thinking I am at a disadvantage in any certain area. I am proud of my accomplishments. I don't have a stellar record, but I have put my time in and love fighting. I am fully prepared to face whoever is put in front of me.
Q: You have not fought in almost a year, is there any worry about cage rust?
A: I really don't think cage rust is an issue. It isn't like I have sat on my butt for a year. I was forced to pull out of a proposed fight in September because of an injury and have wanted back in since. I have teammates fighting all the time and I work at the gym, so it is hard to keep me out of the gym. It is my passion, so I have been training for the past year.
Q: With having so many fights, being someone who has fought the who's who in the sport, can that make it harder to get fights?
A: Not necessarily. It may make it harder to match me up for fights because commissions, no matter how talented a fighter may be, it wouldn't make sense to match me with a fighter with less than six or seven fights, and I would prefer not to fight anyone with less than ten. My opponents and people in my class view me as a legit opponent. Someone with a lot of L's in the record and people feel they can capitalize on that and get the better of me. I am young in my career, and have quite a ways to go.
Q: With Miesha, what is the key for you to winning?
A: Just staying myself. The key to winning any fight is staying confident and good training into the cage, let my strengths shine as I know she will do. There is never one single thing that will win you a fight, and anyone who tells you that doesn't really understand fighting. There may be opponents like Ronda Rousey who wins with the same move every fight, but she gets there in different ways. Just be myself and use my tools and I should have a successful night.
Q: When Miesha fought Ronda, that was the fight getting all the hype but Sarah Kaufman and Alexis Davis stole the show, this time Sarah and Miesha is getting the hype, but I can see you and Miesha stealing the show, would you agree?
A: Absolutely. What I am concerned with is my performance and my opponent. I used to run around saying I am gonna be fight of the night, but these days it is just I am gonna face who I face and implement my will. We are well matched and bring enough into the cage that there should be fireworks.
Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: No, I don't predict.
Q: Does a win over her put you in line for a shot at the winner of the title fight?
A: I cant really look that far ahead. The Strikeforce title, I wouldn't say is something I don't have my eye on because we all have ambitions, but Sarah Kaufman is my teammate and friend, I have respect for Ronda Rousey, but I want Sarah to win and I believe she has the skill set to win. So I am concerned with Miesha Tate, not the title or where I am in the bazillions of rankings, I don't care. I just care about beating Miesha Tate.
Q: You recently did commentary for Invicta, how did you enjoy that?
A: I really enjoyed it. I was intimidated to work with Mauro Ranallo and Mo Lawal. They were so kind, and Shannon Knapp made me feel comfortable. I want to look into doing that after my career, giving a female perspective. When I had doubts, my coach said "all you do is work with female fighters, talk about female fights, you know what is going on, you will shine". I felt I delivered and hope I do the same thing in the cage.
Q: So you can see yourself doing more of that?
A: Absolutely. I don't have intentions to retire soon, but I can see myself being a coach for a female team and calling fights. Promoting female fighters and pushing for the sport.
Q: Where you surprised at how good the reviews were for how you did?
A: I was extremely surprised. I would love to take credit for all that, but to be honest, Mauro Ranallo cued me, he helped me out, and once I got the hang of it, it felt great. My only problem is I was too excited so I have to calm myself down. It was hard not to catch the enthusiasm of these women. I have respect for all the women on the card and future ones.
Q: Is it hard not to get caught up in the excitement of a fight and remember you are supposed to be talking?
A: Well, you don't want to completely talk over what they are doing, you want to let them deliver. It is hard to not jump up and say "wow did you see that?". I consider Kaitlin Young to be a good friend, I don't know Leslie Smith as well, but I do respect her as well as her next opponent Liz Carmouche so when I watch Kaitlin Young fight, it is hard to be critical of someone you admire. So I need to be analytical and take a positive slant on everyone, and that's when I did really well.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: Always Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, my coaches and all the staff and teammates at Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts. And a shout out to Michelle Waterson who is a good friend of mine. She is getting married next weekend and I have to miss it because I am promoting the fight.