by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy Mike Stratta)
It seems that this is the time in MMA for history to be made. Over the past several months there have been notable firsts, as there will be this coming February 10th when EliteXC makes history as the first live MMA event to be carried on major pay-television when it debuts on the Showtime network.
Not only will the event itself be historic, on the card itself there will be more history made when Julie “Jules” Kedzie and Gina Carano clash in the first women’s fight, MMA or boxing, to ever appear on the network.
While Carano has received much of the fanfare heading into the bout, it is Kedzie who is the more experienced MMA fighter and has been on peoples’ radars for quite some time herself.
“I was very lucky for my first fight to be in Hook N Shoot,” said Julie. “It’s a real reputable organization, and to have my fight be put on the Revolution 2 DVD I think is how people started noticing me.”
Kedzie continued, “I fought for Hook N Shoot for a while, and some other organizations, and then Jeff [Osborn, HNS Promoter] put me into the [Woman's 135lb] Grand Prix and I ended up winning it. That also got a lot of peoples’ attention too, I think.”
Now that she is about to make her major promotion MMA debut, Julie is genuinely enthusiastic to showcase her skills in front of a larger audience, even if, at first, she didn’t realize the significance of the fight.
“I’m just really, really excited to be part of the promotion,” exclaimed Kedzie. “I got a phone call just saying, ‘Hey do you want to fight Gina Carano?’ and I didn’t really realize it was going to be this big of a deal fight, so I said ‘Sure I’d love to fight Gina.’ But as things progressed I realized it was for Showtime and a pretty big deal and I was just like, ‘Wow.’”
Even though Carano is relatively new to our sport, Kedzie is familiar with her thanks to a mutual connection the two interestingly share from reality television.
“I have a lot of respect for her and actually my best friend [Kourtney McCarty] knows her from the [Oxygen Network] TV show ‘Fight Girls’ they were on [together],” explained Julie. “She [Kourtney] said good things about her [Gina], so I had heard of her prior to this and I thought it would be a really good match-up.”
As for her thoughts about the fight itself, Kedzie doesn’t delude the fact that she knows what skills both her and her opponent bring to the match.
“I think I am more of a stand-up fighter than a ground fighter, however, Gina is a Muay Thai Champion, so we’ll see how much of that I’ll want to do,” admitted Jules.
“I come from a Jiu-Jitsu school and team, so I think that they might see me as a stronger ground fighter than her, if it gets there. If not, I think that she’s probably got better kicks than me, and I’ve got probably equal or slightly stronger hands, but I’m not sure, so we’ll see,” added Kedzie.
One aspect of Julie’s game that many of her opponents have brought up is her physical strength and the fact that she likes to use it to push around and intimidate her opposition during fights.
“Yeah, I think that’s a fair estimate, I am kind of a bully,” agreed Kedzie. “I’m very strong for a girl, so you’ll see a bully against a nice girl [in EliteXC] I guess. [Laughs] I think a bully is a good estimate of how I fight, I do a lot of physical stuff, so I’d guess you’d say I’m not as much skilled as I am tough.”
Even though she uses her strength to her advantages in her fights, Julie’s physical gifts have been a double-edged sword for her as some have claimed in the past that she gets her power and impressive physique in unnatural ways.
It’s a sad reflection of the modern sports world that people make such assumptions of athletes and it’s an issue that Kedzie is more than willing to confront.
“There have been rumors for a while, or I’ve heard accusations about me being involved with anabolic steroids because I am muscular,” said Jules. “But honestly, I’ve never touched steroids before and wouldn’t know where to get them.”
Kedzie added, “I’ve never been involved with steroids and never intend to. I do kind of resent that people would take the amount of hard work I’ve put into my physique and accuse me of achieving it through steroids. But as it’s been said before, ‘It’s not my business what people think while I’m fighting, I’m just there to fight.’”
Julie is adamant she is a clean, natural athlete and is even willing to be subjected to testing at EliteXC if the Mississippi State Athletic Commission sees fit to do so.
“Test me for whatever, that’s fine,” commented Kedzie. “I don’t know what goes on in the heads of people that use steroids, I’m not them, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s not in the cards for me whatsoever. I mean, what can I say? I just have broad shoulders and creepy man-arms. [Laughs]”
Another aspect of Jules that stands out, aside from her physical prowess, is the seeming dichotomy of how one of the fiercest fighters in MMA is at heart a peace-loving, Indiana University graduate with a degree in Literature
“I come from a family of basically scientists,” explained Kedzie. “My mother has a PHD in Neurobiology, my father is a quality control engineer, and my sister is getting a double-PHD in Biology and Anthropology. So I guess you could say I’m kind of the dumb one. [Laughs] I’m the one that says in her senior year of college, ‘You know what? I’m going to be a pro fighter.’”
Jules continued, “But do I love literature that’s a side of me that’s different from me being a fighter. Honestly, if I could do anything other than be a fighter, it’d probably be in the Peace Corps. I’d like to work to better people’s lives. I’m very into people diverting their energies towards something bigger than themselves. I’m not generally religious or anything like that, but I think we have a responsibility to help each other make the world better.”
Indeed Julie Kedzie is one of the more unique individuals in MMA, both inside and outside of the ring.
So when EliteXC makes its debut on Friday, February 10th from the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Mississippi, Julie has an opportunity to make history with her opponent Gina Carano, and she urges everyone check out the show and her fight, as it might just change your mind about women in combat sports.
“A big thank you to my team, James Klingerman and the Indiana Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, because without them I wouldn’t be here,” said Kedzie. “I would also like to thank: my manager Debi Purcell and her company, Jeff Osborn and Hook N Shoot for helping put my name out there, and my former manager Chad Wagoner, he did a really great job until we parted ways.”
“If anybody’s in the area, please come check us out and give women fighters a chance. Obviously since its Showtime all the other fights are going to be great, but give us a chance and see what we bring to this. I think if anybody takes the time to watch a female MMA fight they will walk away pretty excited about it and understand that we are the real deal. I’m looking forward to making history and showing what woman fighters are all about,” concluded Jules.