Ronda Rousey has a lot to thank Julie Kedzie for
32-year-old Julie Kedzie makes her UFC debut vs Germaine De Randamie on the FX televised undercard of UFC on FOX 8 on July 27 card at Seattle's Key Arena.
However, as Yahoo Sports Dave Doyle points out, before Ronda Rousey ever stepped onto an Olympic judo mat, or Gina Carano stepped into the cage that brought her to a Hollywood career, Julie Kedzie was fighting in one-night, 8-woman tournaments.
"All those years, Dana said he'd never have women fight in the UFC, and I didn't believe it," said Kedzie. "I'd tell people: 'I'm going to fight in the UFC one day,' and people would say 'yeah, sure.' You can call it destiny or fate or whatever you want to call it, but I always believed this day would come."
Her destiny began when she came across a DVD of women fighting. It was a HOOKnSHOOT, promoted by the father of women's MMA, Jeff Osborne. She would go on to win three fights in one night, taking the 2005 HOOKnSHOOT Women's Grand Prix.
"Once I saw the fights, I knew that is what I wanted to do," said Kedzie. "I knew it was destiny. I got my degree and then I went out to California and started training. Hook 'n' Shoot being in Indiana was just a happy accident. I came back home and knew I had to give it a try."
"It was such a crazy night," Kedzie said. "I just remember wanting to go out there and finish all my opponents. Ultimately I knew my cardio was strong enough that I was going to be able to go out there and outlast everyone.
"Hook 'n' Shoot was ahead of its time. The promoters were the first to realize that there were women out there who were able to fight and there was an audience out there willing to pay, so they treated us with respect."
"Some fighters would act like you didn't belong, or were taking a guy's spot. Sometimes fans would grab you on your way out to the ring. Some fly-by-night promoter would put your fight on at the end of the night, after everyone went home, and you'd fight in front of a bunch of empty chairs."
Kedzie vs. Carano in 2007 on Showtime's MMA debut was the fight that put WMMA on the map, but rounds had to be three, not five minutes.
"That was the thing that bugged me," said Kedzie. "I didn't care about the other stuff. I fought three times in one night and now you're telling me because I'm a woman I can't fight a five-minute round? Are you serious?"
Carano and Kedzie stole the show.
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"This is going to sound arrogant, but my legacy has already been made," said Kedzie. "I was one of a group of girls who helped push this thing forward and fought when no one wanted us fighting. Anything from here, my wins, I'm doing it for my teammates and all the faith and hard work they've invested in me. My legacy is already there."