I got to speak with Julie Kedzie after an evening training session, and she discussed her upcoming fight on Showtime, her training with Greg Jackson of Jackson’s MMA, as well as some of the other characters in the camp, and her favorite TV show.
Michael Hess: You have been a martial arts competitor for virtually your entire life, with a background in Tae Kwon Doe, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, submission wrestling, and Muay Thai, but recently you have displayed your striking skills with a couple of TKO victories, which of those styles do you enjoy the most?
Julie Kedzie: I think that mixed martial arts is the best area for me to show my skills, I love the judo, I love the ground and pound, I love the jiu-jitsu, so really I would say that it’s mixed martial arts in general. I want to be able to transition from a good striking game, to a good clinch game, to a good ground game, to a good jiu-jitsu finish. If it happens that I am pounding them out, I like that too. (laughs) My striking instructors here are just absolutely amazing, so I am able to learn and hone my skills in the environment that I am in now. I think that shows in my game.
MH: You mentioned your training, is that still with Greg Jackson of Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts?
JK: Yes, I’m still training with Greg Jackson, and my kickboxing instructor a man named Mike Winkeljohn.
MH: You have faced world-class competition throughout your life, including a bout last year with Julia Berezekova –
JK: That was a tough one.
MH: She is with the legendary Russian Red Devil Team, do your emotions leading up to a fight vary depending on your opponent?
JK: No. I would say that pure terror is basically the emotion that I display before every single fight. It never changes. I usually go “alright this one I am going to be calm, this one I am going to be ready for,” and then I am just like “oh my God I am just terrified.” (laughs) It’s all frightening, it never changes.
MH: The fight with Berezekova started off with an amazing flurry, you maintained your composure while landing your own strikes, and then transitioned to the clinch, how were you able to stay focused on fighting your style while so much is being thrown at you?
JK: We were prepared, we game-planned for Julia to be an extremely fast striker. She is probably the fastest female boxer in MMA right now. She’s amazingly fast. We knew that she was going to come in with a barrage, that’s her style. So what we wanted to do is work around that. I am training with some of the best female boxers in the world, including Holly Holm. I was able to train with these women whose styles are very fast, very sharp boxing, and get my composure there. We knew that the takedown is what would get me control of the fight. So we worked with me handling the flurries, and then keeping my head in and going for the takedown. My chin was still sky high in that fight, I am not going to lie. There was a lot that I did wrong, but I think I did a lot more right.
MH: You have intense training going on at Jackson’s MMA camp, what do you do to relax after your training sessions are finished and your day is all done?
JK: I actually work for Greg Jackson, I am his personal assistant, so I am very close with his family. I lived with his family for the first 4 months of actually living in New Mexico. A lot of my down-time actually involves spending time with his family, which is my family now. So his wife and I go out to the movies, I hang out with their kids, I hang out with Greg, who is hilarious. We’ll do work and I re-focus on the business side of the school, and get the nerve of fighting out of my head when I can focus on “ok there’s a contract on this,” there is a part of me that is this, there is a part of me that is that. And I watch a lot of TV.
MH: Alright, me too as a matter of fact!
JK: Plus I read a lot.
MH: That is good too. What are some of the TV shows that you like to watch?
JK: Well I am so embarrassed, but I’ll tell you. America’s Next Top Model.
MH: Oh no.
JK: It is just like the Ultimate Fighter show. They’re definitely the same. Except with girls. Don’t tell anyone though! I mean seriously though, it is just drama, drama, drama. It’s this whole completely feminine world, it’s this world about how people look and everything like that, and honestly it is kind of refreshing after a day of being in this tough environment, with beating on this and beating on that. It is like “ok, we’re going to talk about how to do their hair.” That’s kind of nice. So that is my girly side right there. (laughs)
MH You got to have that kind of a balance.
JK: (laughs) I am a big reader too. With my downtime in between training sessions I will be sitting there with my book in the office. It happens when you are bored in the gym.
MH: What, if anything, are you doing differently during your training for your upcoming bout with Tonya Evinger on January 25th on Showtime?
JK: If I don’t have a fight directly in front of me, I am real competitive, so I still put myself in the gym against people, and I try to keep my cardio up. So what I do with an upcoming fight is I up the intensity of my cardio, and we gameplan, we go for specific stuff. Year round I am working on developing myself as a fighter, training, and fixing some stuff that I do wrong. It is just a little more focused pre-fight, toward a particular opponent. Other than that, just basically keeping my weight down, adding cardio, working a lot of sparring.
MH: Earlier tonight you had a cardio session, what did you do for that particular session?
JK: This was actually kind of a light cardio session for me. We have these Aerodyne bikes – I actually burned up the treadmill the other day, which was kind of crazy, I didn’t smell the smoke and it burned out. It wasn’t like there was a flaw in it, I was just running on it and didn’t realize it. So the treadmill is down, and that’s my favorite thing, other than running outside, so now I’m on the Aerodyne bikes. I did a session on there, trying to get my RPMs up. I just did 20 minutes on it, because I did a pretty big session this morning. I just try to split it throughout the day. It wasn’t that hard of one (this evening), I had my phone on me and stuff. We have all sorts of characters at our gym, you’re on the bike, or you’re working out, and it’s just non-stop entertainment with people interacting with each other. It’s a zoo, it wonderful.
MH: You gotta tell me, I know you have some famous fighters who could be the characters you’re mentioning, can you tell me anything about the other guys at Greg Jackson’s camp?
JK: Well Joey V is amazing and funny. He’s a brilliant tactician in the ring, brilliant fighter, but in person he is just hilarious, just funny all the time, jokes all the time, always gets me going like with jokes. Georges (St-Pierre) isn’t there full time, and he’s really funny too, just really earnest, just wants knowledge all the time. He’s awesome. He’s really great, really fun. Keith Jardine is my absolute hero there. So anytime I see Keith working out, I just get this urge to workout, I want to work out too, because I want to be just like Keith. His work ethic is just impeccable. We have Mike Seal upstairs, he’s kind of our Hollywood guy, like he does a lot of movie stunts, and he is one of the guys who lives in our dorms upstairs, and he does impressions of people that are just amazing, just hilarious. Rashad Evans is so, so funny, all the time. Like Rashad is a character, heart of gold, but just so funny, he always makes people laugh. He does Mike Tyson impressions, impressions of his mother, he is hilarious, I love Rashad.
MH: Does anyone have a stellar Georges St-Pierre impression?
JK: We all do Georges, can’t help it, it is so cool. “Oh my God, coach!”
MH: “Uh Matt Hughes, I am happy you won your fight, but I am not impressed by your performance.”
JK: (laughs) Yes, oh my God, that gets quoted to him all the time and that is so not his personality. “I’m not impressed by your performance.” That’s so not the Georges that we know. He’s so humble, and sweet. We all do a little Georges impression, this place is crawling with characters. Everyday you see people and they put their hearts out there training, forcing themselves to do better and better, everyday. And the relief from that I think comes with the inner relationships we have with each other. So everybody just relies on everyone to be just so funny. If you are breaking down somebody is going to make you laugh. We have this guy Cowboy, Donald Z, oh my gosh that just cracks me up. He’s is an amazing trainer, and a fighter, but the way he can just rip on people is so funny.
MH: How great is it to compete in an organization with the foresight to include female mixed martial arts fights like ShoXC and EliteXC?
JK: I think it’s great, I am amazed, they are bringing women to the forefront of this organization. Whether or not it’s me or another woman they’re pushing in one of these fights, or to be another spokesperson. The fact that I get to be a part of women in mixed martial arts getting recognition, I think it’s amazing. I am totally honored by it.
MH: Absolutely. You are front page on the EliteXC website for the upcoming bouts on January 25th.
JK: Oh am I? (laughs) I will have to go look. (laughs) That is so exciting. I never really thought that for myself, like that’s what kind of role I’d be taking. I hope I represent the female fighters well. There are so many women who deserve that kind of recognition, I am glad that somewhere out there somebody felt that I did. That’s great.
MH: I agree. Have you studied Evinger’s previous fights to get an idea of what she is going to want to do in this bout against you?
JK: Absolutely. We gameplan for every fight. We try to find as much footage as possible. So far we have been really impressed, she’s a very well rounded, tough fighter. I really think it’s going to be a war. I’m excited. We always go into every fight expecting a 3 round war, or 5 round war, whatever it is. We study footage and we work on my stuff. Mostly it is about honing my skills. They’re going to throw what they are going to throw at me, but it’s about my game and what I bring to the table.
MH: The two of you have one common opponent in Gina Carano, who you went to a 3 round decision with, and Tonya lost to her in a first round submission, have you taken anything away from studying those two fights?
JK: No, because they are different fights, and we’re different fighters. I am a different fighter than I was back then. I think that Evinger is a different fighter than what was displayed there. Every fight is completely different. You take elements of what you’ve learned from previous fights. I don’t fight the way Gina fights, so I don’t necessarily think Evinger is going to fight me the way she fought Gina. I think it’s going to be different, I think she’s planning for a different Julie Kedzie, I’m planning for a different Tonya Evinger. You take elements, you study the way people do things, but I focus on honing my own skills. And making myself the best fighter that I can be. What you can take away from it is that we both lost to a tough fighter. We both face tough fighters. Losses aren’t necessarily losses to me, they are just not winning. Really it’s gaining new knowledge from what you just did. I think that works in both of our cases. We gained new knowledge of ourselves in each fight, and we are going to apply it to the next fight. You gain so much experience from it, you are adding so many more tools to your arsenal, or so much more knowledge, it’s just another stepping stone.
MH: How do you see this fight with Tonya going from your perspective if this were perfect?
JK: From my side, I would want a 3 round war against the best Tonya Evinger I could face. The toughest, the strongest, the best technique that she possibly has, so that I can see where I am at when I am fighting her. See what my level is, because I am going to bring the best Julie Kedzie to the table, that’s my goal. You fight. You have a war, you learn through the war, and then it’s over, and you just poured your heart out. That is what you are going to expect from me.
MH: Are you willing to make a prediction as to how this fight will go?
JK: (laughs) I’m always going to predict that I am going to win. I definitely expect a very hard fight against a very hard opponent.
MH: Anything else you would like to add?
JK: I just want to extend my thanks to everybody involved with FighterGirls, it is an amazing company and website. I have been following it for a long time, since I started fighting. I really appreciate all the work of Debi (Purcell) and everybody else is putting toward it. Much thanks to them.
MH: Well thank you very much for your time and I wish you the best of luck on your bout on January 25th on Showtime.
JK: Ok, thank you so much!