Julie Kedzie talks return to the cage this weekend
In many ways Julie Kedzie’s career mirrors the women’s divisions as a whole. In the archives are multiple updates with Julie from her time in HOOK-n-SHOOT through the breakout of the women’s divisions in bodogFIGHT and EliteXC, but like the women’s divisions as a whole since the demise of EliteXC not much was heard from Julie for almost a year. Now as Strikeforce and Bellator are pushing the women’s divisions, Julie returns this weekend to fight in Duke City MMA in Albuquerque, NM.
Julie is coming off an armbar win over Angela Hayes last April. Before joining Jackson’s MMA Julie was known as a good “gatekeeper”, fighting relative legends like Tara LaRosa, Gina Carano, and Amanda Buckner to name a few. After joining Jackson’s she started to seriously climb the ranks, turning Julia Berezikova and Kelly Kobold into the gatekeepers Julie used to be. Her only loss under Greg Jackson was at the next weight class up against tough wrestler Tonya Evinger.
This weekend she faces Sarah Schneider who in her last fight lost a split decision to Jennifer Tate but put on a great performance. Schneider also fought the aforementioned Evinger and defeated Kaitlin Young at Tuff-N-uff.
KM: Tell me about this upcoming fight.
JK: I’m fighting Sarah Schneider out of Kansas City, MO. She is a really good grappler from a tough school. She is really tough, really good ground game, and she can take a beating. It has potential to be a really great war.
KM: She fought in PureCombat against Jennifer Tate.
JK: Yeah. I didn’t see it but I heard she showed great jiu-jitsu in that fight. I’m trying not to let it be a high-pressure situation but jiu-jitsu chicks and wrestler chicks seem to have had my number. This is actually a tougher fight than say a standup fighter. All of my losses have been by jiu-jitsu girls except for Gina.
KM: This one is at 135, but Gina was the next weight class up.
JK: I have absolutely no business fighting at 140.
KM: What does this fight mean to your career?
JK: I was hoping I could get a ring rust fight in before I had a serious fight but this is a serious fight. I know for sure it is. She is going to bring her “A game”. It is a little unnerving, I’m not going to lie, because it has been a year since I fought. That is what you do when you are a fighter so I’m excited to get back in there.
KM: How far out did you hear about this fight?
JK: About three or four weeks but it was still in the works. It wasn’t finalized until maybe two weeks ago. We didn’t know who to fight; I just wanted to fight locally.
KM: Wasn’t your last fight at Battlequest similar where you were looking to stay active and took a fight relatively short notice?
JK: Yeah. That was also affiliated with the Tapout show. You can’t be too picky now because with the economy and female fights a fight is a fight. If I’m healthy I’m going to do it.
KM: Most fans are only familiar with your fights in EliteXC, probably not with bodog. To those fans you have two losses to Evinger and Carano. They don't know about the Kelly Kobold fight or Angela Hayes. They might think you lost to those two, why should they care about this fight. Was it weight issues in EliteXC, did you choke at the higher level….?
JK: It was the weight issue. I fought Evinger at 140 and went into that fight way light too. I was eating on the way to the scale. Very few fighters with the exception of Tara (LaRosa) can get away with just walking around at that weight. She is phenomenal and an exception. I do think it was the weight issue. I didn't choke with Kobold. For the fight with Evinger I was on Jackson’s team so that was my one loss in those four fights. I think early in my career I took every fight without thinking of the consequences. I'm definitely a 135 pound fighter.
KM: What connection does the team have to the show itself?
JK: There is a local promotion called Duke City Brawl. They have always had a couple Jackson’s fighters on it and with the economy and what is going on we have so many fighters who just want to fight including myself and Michelle Waterson. Sometimes the opportunities aren't there but we have to keep busy. It is frustrating going a year without a fight. It just kind of evolved, became a way to showcase our local talent. Kind of like Kim Couture has a show in Las Vegas. I'm not saying we stole the idea but we were like “that is a really good idea to have not in-house but related fights”.
KM: Not everybody but some shows with strong connections to gyms hand those fighters easy wins. I don't notice anything like that with this show.
JK: I have no easy fights left. There is nobody that is going to fight me at the beginner level. I did want a ring rust fight and it is not out there for me. This is going to be a war and every fight from here on out is going to be a war. I don't think it is going to be easy wins for any of our guys here. Having seen the process…maybe not going to get television time but worthy fights. Ricky from our gym is not looking to make a cheap buck. He cares about the sport and cares about the gym and how we present things. From everything I've seen it is crystal and 100% good.
KM: You are also Greg’s personal assistant. With that role and having a year off how prepared are you? To what degree is your job at the gym distracting from your own career?
JK: The nice thing is about what I do is I take complete advantage of my position. He is the best trainer in MMA in my opinion so I literally say “we have an hour, I need to work on this”. Actually I'm in a better position than a lot of fighters in that gym because I have access to him and I'm constantly asking him questions. If he can't work with me I'm always finding someone to work with me. I still go to regular practice. He considers that part of my job. I'm his P.A. which I look at as the best internship in the world because I'd love to be a trainer one day.
KM: How would you say you have improved in the past year?
JK: My cardio is definitely better than it has ever been. We have really changed things up conditioning-wise and cardio-wise. I always want a three-round war now. I wouldn't give up a submission if I got one but I just want to battle. My striking has gotten better, my grappling has gotten better, my wrestling has always been a weak point but that is steadily improving…we'll see how much better in this fight.
KM: What about you getting in Bellator or Strikeforce?
JK: My management has talked to them. Bellator actually signed a girl from Albuquerque I have never met. My management has talked to both and I think they are waiting to see what happens with this fight. We have to get me in people’s eyes again.
KM: Anything else you want to get across to the fans?
JK: I want to thank the fans for supporting the female fighters, those that do. We are still here and getting stronger, especially me. I'm still out here and have ten years of fighting left in me and I intend every year of it getting better and becoming the best in the world. Vote for Julie!
KM: Sponsors to thank?
JK: Tapout and Musclepharm.