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Wednesday, 08/15/2012, 07:55 am

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Exclusive | Strikeforce's Julie Kedzie on Tate, "She's not going to use me as a stepping stone"

On Saturday Julie Kedzie stands in the way of Miesha Tate’s rematch with Ronda Rousey, or a bout with Sarah Kaufman for the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship. She has been in situations like this before, and a win over Tate would vault her in to the MMA spotlight.

Kedzie is a familiar face in women’s mixed martial arts. She trains and works at Greg Jackson’s popular MMA training academy. Some of her peers and fans playfully refer to her as the “Queen” of Jackson’s and she’s okay with that.

“I didn’t know that, but it makes a little bit of sense because of the amount of work I do there”, Julie said with a laugh. “It’s kind of funny, but I’m just another fighter. It’s flattering a little”.

The number of women who have begun training for MMA has skyrocketed recently. With Strikeforce featuring more females on their cards, and the emergence of the all women Invicta FC cards it is no surprise. Jackson’s female roster has also grown.

“There are a lot of women here who are active fighters”, Kedzie said. “Then there are women that are crossovers like Holly Holm. Holly is a world champion boxer. She’s had two MMA fights and blew me away with them because she’s so good. Michelle Waterson, the “Karate Hottie”, who trains with us. She’s one of the most talented people I have ever seen in my life. So many up and comers. There are six or seven female fighters and they’re very talented”.

Julie’s role at Jackson’s is more than just an office kind of job. She has responsibilities on the mat as well.

“I would say Greg did say I was the captain of the women’s team”, she stated. “I am not sure what that’s worth really. I am consulted about certain fights and they ask me about this and that. I wouldn’t say a leader, but I would say I am trying to set an example in the gym”.

Despite her experience and seniority, Kedzie draws strength from other women who train with her.

“Holly Holm is my hero”, Julie said proudly. “Her work ethic and intensity are phenomenal. I completely look up to her. I think in MMA I have more experience, but she is definitely a force to be reckoned with. I would defer to her judgment when it comes to any kind of combat”.

With Dana White’s recent comments about women in the UFC becoming a possibility the landscape has changed for female fighters. Julie has seen this coming for years.

“This is America. Things have a way of equaling out”, she said. “I guess female fighting has been a side show to some people, but to us it’s always been just fighting. I remember taking a fight one time as a last minute replacement and I beat the crap out of this girl in eighteen seconds. I remember thinking that this is not honorable and this isn’t fighting. I’m never going to that again. I’ve always tried to find opponents who challenged me and pushed me to train harder. There are better fighters than back then everywhere now. The perception has changed because of us pushing ourselves and female MMA has kind of exploded. It isn’t female MMA specifically. I really never expected fighting in general to be on this level. I’m happy that the fans have embraced it”.

Standing across the cage from her during this Saturday’s Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman card is former champ Miesha Tate. Miesha suffered a nasty looking injury from a Ronda Rousey armbar in her last fight. Kedzie does believe it affected Tate mentally, but not like you would think.

“I think it made her a lot tougher to be honest”, Julie said. “I think she is more angry and more dedicated. I am expecting to see a much tougher Miesha than ever before. I think she is trying to make a statement against me. She wants to get the title back badly and I’m standing in her way. I am glad she’s focused because it pushes me. You won’t see the best Julie Kedzie unless you see the best Miesha Tate. That’s usually how it works. I think we will see that on Saturday. I have to rise to the occasion. She’s not going to use me as a stepping stone”.

On whether or not nerves will play a part in her fight knowing the significance and public visibility of this fight, According to Kedzie she isn’t worried about that at all.

“I’m not afraid of fighting anyone”, she stated. “I will fight anyone. I’m afraid of heights. I’m not a good swimmer. I’m sort of afraid of the water, but I am not afraid of anyone. I’ll fight anybody”.

Julie Kedzie faces Miesha Tate this Saturday on the Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman card. The event will air on Showtime at 10PM ET, and 10PM PT (delayed on West Coast).

Follow Julie on Twitter @julesk_fighter

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