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Kedzie on ‘Personal Growth’ Plan

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The cry came from Michelle Waterson’s corner on a winter night in North Dakota, a “Sweep the leg” mantra for a new generation.

“Break that (expletive),” screamed Waterson’s Jackson-Winkeljohn teammate, Julie Kedzie, as the “Karate Hottie” applied a flying armbar to finish Rosary Califano in a mere 15 seconds.

Kedzie is somewhat sheepish when she looks back on that night: “I was shocked when I heard myself on camera. I thought I was being the calm, cool, collected corner person.

Saturday
Jackson’s MMA Series I:
Matt
Leyva vs. Doug Moore, Julie Kedzie vs. Malissa Sherwood Tickets: $25-$125
available at tickets.com or Hard
Rock Hotel and Casino box office
Pay per view:
web streaming at jacksonsmmaseries.com 

“Some people are double-jointed, and they can let their arms go all the way back,” she explains. “It was a really embarrassing moment because Coach (Greg Jackson) is teaching me how to be a good corner person. You’re never supposed to get emotional like that.”

Sometimes emotional is good, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who is more passionate about women’s mixed martial arts than Kedzie.

In her utopia, a fight card like the Jackson’s MMA Series — which has two women’s bouts on the main card Saturday, including the main event — would be more than just an anomaly. It would be the norm.

“It would be a female fight on every card, including the UFC,” says Kedzie.

When Kedzie spoke to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva about the subject, he told her that there weren’t enough women to build a division.

Some evidence points toward Silva being correct. Strikeforce, perhaps the premier promotion featuring women’s divisions, isn’t able to put a women’s fight on every card. Its most visible female fighter, Gina Carano, hasn’t fought since August.

Kedzie hasn’t fought since July, but it isn’t for lack of trying. Two of her fights have fallen through this year.

“I lined up three fights in three months. I had one for April, May and June because I knew this was going to happen. And two of them fell through,” she said.

Kedzie’s professional experience (13-8) can be intimidating for potential opponents. More than 20 fights of experience in women’s MMA is equivalent to twice that number in men’s.

“A lot of people back out of fights and it’s one of those things, because she has so many fights it can be rough,” Jackson said.

The one that didn’t fall through is Saturday night’s bout against Malissa Sherwood at the Jackson’s MMA Series I. While Sherwood doesn’t have a lofty ranking or reputation, her style is one that could give Kedzie fits.

Sherwood played with the boys in high school, earning a spot on her high school football team in California. After that, she decided to give wrestling a try.

She was so successful there that she earned a wrestling scholarship to Missouri Valley College.

“That’s always been her weak spot is those wrestlers who can take her down,” Jackson said of Kedzie.

The matchup is one that Kedzie sought as part of what she calls her “personal growth plan.”

“What she does stylistically, her strengths are my weaknesses. I don’t care if I end up going 0-10 in my next 10 fights, if I’m growing each time I fight, then I’m going to be the fighter that I want to be,” she said. “I know how that sounds, because I’m not going to lose. …

“In some cases it’s the performance, but in other cases it’s just one step on the ladder. There’s a lot of duality in it.”

Kedzie clearly has very specific designs on her individual growth, but what about her sport as a whole? How do you convince powers-that-be such as Silva that there is enough talent to stockpile a women’s division?

“We’ll just have to have female fights, all the time,” Kedzie says. “The more women that come out and fight, they’ll see that there are enough women to build a division. And then they’ll see that it’s also very marketable.”

 

Saturday
Jackson’s MMA Series I: Matt Leyva vs. Doug Moore, Julie Kedzie vs. Malissa Sherwood
Tickets: $25-$125 available at tickets.com or Hard Rock Hotel and Casino box office
Pay per view: web streaming at jacksonsmmaseries.com

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