by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
With the surge of popularity in women’s MMA currently at an all time high, it’s no surprise that more promotions are counting on female fighters to bring in the crowd, both live and on TV. Case in point was the recent all-female episode of BodogFight’s St. Petersburg show on ION [formerly PAX] Television.
Because of the outcome of the fights on that show, the upcoming BodogFight PPV in Russia on April 14th will be featuring not one, but two women’s MMA bouts.
One of the evening’s female fights features a name that’s quickly becoming one of the most recognizable on the women’s circuit, Julie “Jules” Kedzie.
Kedzie, a current Hook N Shoot 135-pound champion rose to instant stardom thanks to her gutsy performance against Gina Carano at EliteXC’s first event this past February. Through that fight, and her BodogFight TV appearance against fellow PPV participant Amanda Buckner, Jules has become a fan favorite for her all-out fighting style.
Now at April 14th’s PPV, Kedzie will look to get off the schnide against Russian Julia Berezekova, in what could be a show stealing fight if Julie has any say in it.
Shortly before leaving for Russia, Kedzie spoke to MMAWeekly to discuss her new team, the fight, and what lays ahead in her future.
MMAWeekly: First off Jules, for people that might not know about it, you recently joined Greg Jackson’s highly successful MMA team in New Mexico. Tell us how that came about.
Julie Kedzie: When I was on the Showtime [EliteXC] card I met Greg Jackson and Joey Villasenor, and I got the chance to talk to them and exchange numbers and stayed in contact. They really liked my performance at the fights and invited me to join the team. So after some thought I realized that it was probably the best thing for me. So I packed up all my stuff and drove to New Mexico.
MMAWeekly: It’s got to be hard for any fighter to leave a team they’ve been with for a long time and practically move across the country to join a new one. What’s that been like for you?
Julie Kedzie: I kind of have this strong sense of loyalty. I mean, leaving James Klingerman, it was pretty difficult for me. They understood that I needed to move on. I owe them so much, in terms of gratitude and where they took me in my fighting, but here I think I belong a little bit better. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like this is the place that is going to push me to the next level.
I mean, I was working with [World Champion female boxer] Holly Holm yesterday, and she’s one of my heroes. She’s been helping me with my boxing and the whole time I’m thinking, “Holy crap!” I get to train with girls that are going to push me to the next level. I just feel like this is the best move I could have made for my career, I really think this is where I belong.
MMAWeekly: Okay, now let’s talk about your career. Most fans know you from your EliteXC fight with Gina Carano and for your BodogFight TV appearance against Amanda Buckner, both losses. Are you at the point now where you’re feeling the pressure to step up and get back on track, or possibly face losing the attention you’re receiving if you don’t win?
Julie Kedzie: I think that’s a legitimate concern, however, I feel I’m still young. You can still have like a million losses in a row or whatever, and still come out as a champion in the end.
In terms of my career, I’m still young, too. I feel like I’m off to a rough start to the American public, but when you fight, someone has to walk away not winning the fight. I don’t think that’s going to be me anymore. I really don’t think I’m going to be losing any fights.
I know it’s a pretty bold statement, but I’m going into this fight knowing I’m going to win. I know everybody says that before they fight, but its how I feel with the confidence I’ve gotten in training just a couple weeks at Jackson’s.
MMAWeekly: All right, let’s talk about your opponent for the BodogFight PPV, Julia Berezekova, what do you think about fighting her?
Julie Kedzie: From what I’ve seen in her fights, she’s a really good striker, a really good boxer especially. I think she’s got some pretty good ground foundation and stuff like that. But I think once it comes to banging, you’re going to see a war on our feet. That’s kind of what I’ve been training for, but my ground game is also getting better, just for having been training here [at Jackson’s], and I’m getting a lot better at finishing on the ground.
She looks tough, she doesn’t look like a joke, and she trains with the Red Devil Team. So I’ll be fighting a member of the Red Devil Team in Russia, so it’s like I’m going against someone in their hometown, but it’s cool, I like being the underdog. That’s the position I’m best at, because I have no quit in me.
MMAWeekly: What do you feel about the fact that now promotions like BodogFight are not only putting together all-female TV shows, but also putting them on their main cards and are banking on them to bring in the crowd?
Julie Kedzie: I think it’s absolutely fantastic. The more women’s shows, the better; the more women headlining [events], the better. I think that they’re finally starting to realize that it’s worth something. People really do love to see the girls fight.
I’ve read stuff like, “Girl fights aren’t as good as guy fights,” bullshit, watch them. [Laughs] We may not be in the UFC or PRIDE shows yet, but we’re going to carry shows I think in the future. At all-women cards, now you’ll get to see not only experienced, established fighters like Jen Case, but also up and comers, like Cassandra Blasso, who people should look out for.
MMAWeekly: Moving on, tell us what you’ve got lined up after the PPV fight and what kind of goals you have set for yourself in the coming year.
Julie Kedzie: I know that I’m going to be fighting for EliteXC soon, and I’m pretty sure I have to defend my title for Hook N Shoot in May, I think, but I haven’t had a confirmation on that yet. I’ll be fighting Jan Finney for that, which will be cool because she’s real, real good, so that’ll be a fun fight after this.
I really want to take it one fight at a time, so the fact that I don’t have definite dates for that [Hook N Shoot] or EliteXC is good, because I want to focus on this one [Bodog].
I think that I’ll be able to step back a little bit and concentrate on straight-on training and get as good as my teammates, so that’s a goal right there. I might want to try something at 125, but I don’t know if that would be healthy for my body, and I haven’t accomplished all my goals yet at 135.
MMAWeekly: Before you head out let’s get your thoughts on the PPV main card bout between your one-time opponent Amanda Buckner and Hitomi Akano.
Julie Kedzie: I’m kind of skewed towards Amanda because I admire her so much, but I’ve seen [Hitomi] Akano fight once and she looks real, real good too. But I’m going to go with Amanda with this one because in the heat of the moment she’s really collected and technical, and I think she’ll win this one on technique and toughness. I think Amanda will probably get her [Akano] down and submit her.
MMAWeekly: Good stuff Jules. Is there anything you’d like to say before we close out this interview?
Julie Kedzie: Definitely, thank you to FighterGirls.net, 1001 Submissions, and Alpha-Female Fight Wear. Huge thanks to James Klingerman and the Indiana Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, my old school, and to Greg Jackson’s MMA team, they’re amazing, so huge thanks to those people. I don’t know if I’ll be on the PPV, but check it out, because there will be great fights, especially the Fedor [Emelianenko versus Matt Lindland] fight. And cheer on Amanda Buckner, because she’ll be kicking ass too.