Julie Kedzie has never lost three in a row. | Photo: Will Fox/Sherdog.com
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A mixed martial arts pioneer, Julie Kedzie has been awarded her rightful place in the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight division.
The “Fireball” will make her promotional debut at UFC on Fox 8 on Saturday, when she meets American Kickboxing Academy-based muay Thai stylist Germaine de Randamie at KeyArena in Seattle. One half of the first televised female MMA match in history -- she lost a unanimous decision to Gina Carano at EliteXC “Destiny” in February 2007 -- Kedzie has been in the MMA business for nearly 10 years.
When the UFC scheduled its inaugural women’s bout between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche in February, Kedzie made sure she was in attendance at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
“[There was] no way I was going to miss this historic moment,” she said. “They gave us pretty good seats. I thought, ‘What nice people they are.’”
During the event, Kedzie was approached by a member of the media requesting comment on her being added to the UFC roster. The news caught the 32-year-old by surprise.
“That was how I found out,” Kedzie said. “I never actually got a call telling me that I was in the UFC.”
A Strikeforce veteran, Kedzie is also a two-time HOOKnShoot women’s grand prix winner and has fought for various other promotions, including King of the Cage, Bodog Fight and Jackson’s MMA Series.
Kedzie’s last appearance took place under the Strikeforce banner, as she engaged in an all-out war with Miesha Tate. “Fireball” was in charge until the last two minutes of the bout, as Tate cinched a fight-ending armbar with 92 seconds remaining.
“Honestly, it wasn’t the armbar by itself that did me in,” Kedzie said. “Somewhere in the second round, my left labrum was torn. I thought something was weird when I went to post on it, and it just collapsed. The last round it was just me overcommitting, getting crazy with my ground-and-pound. Not making excuses, though. It really was the armbar I tapped to.”
“My mentality was, ‘I am going to be in the UFC,’” she said. “If they hadn’t told me I was in, I was already making plans to work my way in.”
While the UFC currently only promotes one women’s division, Kedzie believes other weight classes will be added in time.
“I think that eyes have been opened,” she said. “People are watching, and they now demand female fights on every card.”
Now that she has reached the Octagon, Kedzie remains cautious about her showdown with Randamie, a woman she was originally slated to face in September 2011. Though far less experienced in MMA than the Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts veteran, “The Iron Lady” has won three of her last four fights and sports an extensive background in muay Thai.
“Sometimes it’s even more dangerous facing someone with less fights,” Kedzie said. “You don’t know what they are bringing to the table. I know she fought in a higher weight class than me, and all her world titles in kickboxing are now blended with high-level wrestling at one of the best MMA gyms. Jackson’s is the best, but AKA is still a world-class gym.
“You take a striker and teach here how to wrestle,” she added, “and you’ve got someone who can take the game wherever they want it.”
Randamie last fought in August, when she earned a unanimous decision over the highly regarded Hiroko Yamanaka in Strikeforce. Before she was matched with Randamie, Kedzie held out hope for a rematch with Tate. However, an injury suffered by top contender Cat Zingano opened the door for Tate to coach opposite Rousey on Season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series. Rousey will defend her UFC women’s bantamweight crown against Tate in December.
“I thought if I won my fight I was going to challenge her, but now, because of ‘TUF,’ it will be a while before I can face her,” Kedzie said. “I’d rather be active then wait. If she wins that title, I know it would be a hell of a rematch, but I’m pretty sure they don’t see me as the number one contender. I’m maybe two to three fights away, and there are a lot of women in the UFC now that I really want to fight [and] some I’d like to rematch.
“For right now,” she added, “it’s Germaine, Germaine, Germaine.”