After history had been made on Saturday night in Anaheim, California at UFC 157, long after the post-fight presser and post-fight shows were over; I did my usual stroll through Twitter: looking at reactions, critique and praise for the first ever women’s fight inside the reverent UFC octagon ending in Ronda Rousey’s patented arm bar submission victory over Liz Carmouche. My eyes stopped at a telling Tweet from Julie Kedzie. It said she wiped tears away while watching the two female combatants walk out for the main event, and that it brought her back to a time in her life–nine years ago–that she made only $150 a fight while working three jobs to get by.
“It just hit me, like how far we’ve come– and still have so much work to do– all of us,” Kedzie said recently as a guest on Darce Side Radio. “Just because one fight happened–we’re all going to have to prove ourselves time and time again. That’s a challenge that female fighters are more than willing to accept. That’s what we’ve been doing–all of us have been doing since the beginning, and I think it’s something that we relish. I just think the sky’s the limit at this point.”
Or maybe the moon as the coverage of this past weekend’s first ever women’s main event brought the UFC to places it had not been prior to women being in the promotion. Late night talk shows, major newspapers, ESPN, CNN–you name the outlet–they covered it. The question to ask now is will Rousey and Carmouche do for women who want to learn how to fight, what Rosie the Riveter did for women who want to work?
“I can guarantee you there’s hundreds of girls right now, who have suddenly decided to become fighters just from watching that fight,” a proud and excited Kedzie stated.
Kedzie was announced as one of the first ten women in the inaugural UFC women’s bantamweight division along with the likes of Ronda Rousey, Liz Carmouche, Cat Zingano, Miesha Tate, Sarah Kaufman, Germaine de Randamie, Sara McMann, Alexis Davis and Amanda Nunes. It’s been a long road for “Fireball” and her career is coming around full circle. She told the story of winning her first professional fight back in 2004 in Jeff Osborne’s Hook N Shoot promotion–where her goal to make it to the UFC was conceived.
“I remember being asked in my very first interview, my very first fight ‘What’s your goal?’ and I said my dream is to be in the UFC and everybody laughed,” Kedzie confessed. “At that time I was so sure that someday I would be in the UFC. Over the years that sureness kind of drained a little bit. When I got the news and everything, I kind of reached back to that feeling. I was so sure, and it’s true.”
Kedzie believes now is the best time in the sport to be a female fighter, not just for the UFC but also for the all-female promotion supported by the UFC, Invicta Fighting Championships. Certain women in the 135lb division will have the opportunity to fight for each promotion. Kedzie, a member of the Invicta FC commentary team is now part of both promotions, and she feels the two working together is only beneficial to the sport.
“Shannon Knapp is an extraordinary woman, and she understands the fight game,” Kedzie said. “She also understands what the dreams of a female fighter is, and what the platform of the UFC can do, and I don’t think she would ever hold back any of her fighters from an opportunity like that,” she continued. “Dana White and her have established an extremely good relationship around it.”
If it is the best time in the sport to be a female fighter would the allure of the UFC be enough to sway Kedzie’s friend and former opponent Gina Carano away from Hollywood and back to the cage?
“Gina will return to the sport when she feels the compulsion to fight again, explained Kedzie. “Not because of attention, not because of women being in the UFC.”
No fight announcement has been made yet for Kedzie, she did say who she‘d like to face.
“I want a rematch with Miesha Tate, that’s huge for me,” admitted Kedzie, giving the impression that loss to her last summer in Strikeforce is still fresh on her mind. “But she’s got something in front of her right now. So I’m not going to step in the way of that.”
“I’m not medically cleared to even train until April 11th,” revealed Kedzie. “I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me.”
How about a potential matchup with Ronda Rousey?
“It’s a daunting task to take on Ronda Rousey,” Kedzie said. “I hope I get it someday. But, I really want people to know who I am before I run down the gauntlet.”
It looks like we won’t see Kedzie back in action, until sometime in the summer. For her–all roads will always lead back to the feeling of winning for the first time in Hook N Shoot– where her goal to get to the UFC started.
“Every fight we are trying to replicate, in a way the experience and exhilaration of winning your first fight.”
Kedzie will be trying to replicate that in the promotion she dreamed of being in, nine years ago.
Follow Stets on Twitter: @Darcesideradio