“I want to taste blood in this next fight because I’m so mad at myself, because I just under-performed, and I just hate that,” Julie Kedzie told BJPenn.com in a recent interview. The UFC women’s bantamweight fighter recounts her UFC debut and uses that to get fired up for her next fight, a December 6 bout against promotional newcomer, Aleksandra Albu.
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
UFC fighter, Julie Kedzie, certainly does not lack experience in the cage. She has fought professionally 28 times, and she has taken on some of the sport’s top names including Miesha Tate and Gina Carano. Currently she finds herself among the top ten contenders in the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division, with the opportunity to climb the rankings in her upcoming bout against Aleksandra Albu this December.
Kedzie spoke with BJPenn.com about her upcoming bout and how she is preparing to fight overseas on December 6.
For Kedzie, this next fight is crucial. Having lost her last three bouts, including her debut for the UFC, she needs to win this next fight. When looking back on her last fight against Germaine de Randamie at UFC on FOX 8, Kedzie is understandably upset; but not being one to hold onto the past, she is using her disappointment in her performance to train harder for her next one.
“I thought my last fight was a total dud. I was so furious with myself; I hated myself after my last fight. After the Miesha fight, I was OK with it, because I got caught in an armbar, I lost, I tapped; but this last fight, I just didn’t perform. I was so angry with myself, I was furious. It just wasn’t true to who I am in my last fight. You know, in this next fight I’m just kind of transforming into a beast already, like I’m furious. I’m mad, like I don’t care who I fight right now, I want to rip their throat out. I have nothing against this opponent, I don’t even know her, I know nothing about her. She seems tough as hell, she seems really talented, she’s young, she’s pretty, she’s marketing herself. Whatever, I don’t care. Give me Anderson Silva, I don’t care! I want to taste blood in this next fight because I’m so mad at myself, because I just under-performed, and I just hate that. I want the victory, but win or lose, I want a good fight. And I didn’t get it, and I was just mad – really mad. I’m a little bit motivated, if you can’t tell.”
That motivation brings her, day in and day out, to Jackson’s MMA where she trains and works with famed MMA coaches, Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn. That relationship began in 2007 shortly after Kedzie’s infamous fight with Gina Carano, and it has brought her most recently to Strikeforce and the UFC.
“Honestly, the talent at Jackson’s has always been sky-high,” Kedzie replied when asked about the growth of Jackson’s MMA. “Before I even got there, not that I brought it up, I’m sure I didn’t. There’s always been such tremendous talent… Really honestly, every day that you walk into that gym you have amateur fighters in there who nobody’s heard of who are just going to whoop in on the scene. Then you have female fighters like Holly Holmes who’s just on a tremendous run of knockouts lately, tremendous fighting where it’s got to be before too long before they give her a UFC contract. She’s just so good. I don’t know. I think the fighters and the talent and the training is always there, it’s just people kind of focus on us every now and then, and then they don’t, it’s just wherever the great, giant eyeball of the media chooses to settle.”
As far as Greg Jackson’s job as head trainer and coach, Kedzie shared that he and Mike Winkeljohn have built something truly incredible.
“If he could, he wouldn’t do any of it. I mean he loves the guys he does interviews with and stuff like that. But if he could, he would give all the other coaches… do the interviews. He’s really somebody who’s – he’s not a fake. It’s not a false modesty or anything like that, I mean I work for the man, I see him every day. He’s got tons of confidence in himself and his fighters and what he does. He’s got a lot of pride in it. But it’s not to the point where he feels like he has to talk about it; he lets the results kind of speak for themselves. If people interview him, he’s happy to talk about it. But it seems like, when I listen to him talk, he spends most of the time talking other people up – which I think is really cool. I admire that a lot, because it shows what kind of leadership we have in the gym. The relationship that he and Mike Winkeljohn have, it’s truly incredible. It’s a partnership, it’s a family. I don’t know how to explain it, but the two of them are truly amazing, and I think the results show in the results of the fights. Maybe not in my fights… but in the success of the gym. There’s something really special there. You really can’t take away from it. People can try and downtalk it, and they will. But the truth is it’s the formula that they’ve had for 20 years, and it’s continuing to build success. It evolved, the training evolves, they bring new coaches on, they respect the fighters, they respect each other, and everybody is just really happy to be there.”
It’s with the tutelage of Jackson and Winkeljohn that Kedzie will be heading to Australia to fight UFC newcomer, Aleksandra Albu. For Kedzie, there is more stress about preparing for the days leading up to the fight than the fight itself. Case in point, the weight cut.
“The last time I fought overseas – I guess I fought in Canada, but there’s pretty good availability of food and everything pretty normal there – the last time I fought overseas was in St. Petersburg, and I was much lighter. I was walking around much lighter then. I walked around at maybe 142. At this point, I’m not going to tell you what I weigh, but I weigh a lot more. It’s been a tougher cut for me these past few years, because I put on some more muscle, I put on some more mass, which I think is good to me as a fighter – which I don’t know as a girl, I don’t care, I’ll worry about that later – but as a fighter, I think it’s good to me. I feel much more confident in my execution of things having put on more muscle. It’s going to be interesting, I can’t really tell.
“My plan is to hopefully come in a little bit lighter this time around, but you know, we’ll see what happens… In Australia I have a very good friend, Kyle Noke, who’s a teammate of mine, and he’s already spoken to some people in Australia to kind of help me out when I get there, so hopefully I’ll have some people around helping me get the things that I need. If not, a lot of fighting isn’t just the fight, it’s the struggle beforehand; I think that’s one of the things I almost excel at, is fighting through difficult circumstances, like that’s what actually puts me in war-mode, so that might actually work to my advantage to not have everything available, to not have these spoils and everything set up for me and to work hard, you know, I like it. Why do it if it’s not a challenge, you know?”
Of course, one of the biggest challenges coming into this fight, Kedzie admitted, was learning how to say her opponent’s name correctly. Having done broadcasting, it’s an issue that has come up before.
“When I was doing the commentary when Bec Hyatt fought Jasminka Cive, I freaked out because we were doing all the pre-fight videos and all those things, I kept mispronouncing her name and we’d have to re tape. I kept getting it all wrong: one was from Australia, one was from Austria, and I had to redo that take like 40 billion times, because I kept mixing up Australia and Austria; I’d get their name right, but I’d get their nationality wrong.”
Of course, after Kedzie fights Albu, she’ll be able to relax and watch the night’s main event: a heavyweight matchup between Mark Hunt and Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva.
“I honestly didn’t pay any attention to it,” Kedzie admitted. “I just heard my name and that I was fighting. I didn’t even know who was headlining until you told me. Well, I’m a fan of both of them. I might actually go with Hunt on this one. I like Bigfoot a lot, I think he’s a fantastic fighter; I don’t know, there’s something about Hunt that’s been real special lately. Yeah, I’m… going to call this one for Hunt. I know everyone at ATT is going to hate me.”
On a final topic Kedzie, who is a huge fan of Fedor Emelianenko, was asked about the UFC’s talk of going to Russia and the possibility of somehow involving the long-time pound-for-pound great with the event. While excited at the possibility, Kedzie had some reservations about traveling to Russia.
“Oh, jeez, I don’t know if I’d be allowed to fight in Russia again. If Vladimir Putin met me, he’d be like, ‘Hey you’re the girl that left shitty panties in the towels, aren’t you?’”
For any readers unfamiliar with the story, Kedzie gives some clarification.
“It only comes up, and I don’t mean for it to be a thing to identify me by either because I’ve had great fights I swear! But yeah, I had a little accident one time in Russia during a fight, and I didn’t know what to do about it so I kind of left them there. It’s an old story, Google it. It’s a fun story. I don’t know that Vladimir Putin would be a big fan of mine if he ever met me again. But I did meet him, he’s very nice. I’m not a huge fan of his, but at the time he was very nice.”