Julie Kedzie had a dream. A dream to become a top mixed martial artist. The only problem with Kedzie’s dream—it wasn’t even a possibility. You see, eight years ago when Kedzie strapped on her gloves for her first professional fight, women’s MMA wasn’t even close to shore. In fact, it wasn’t even on the map.

But Kedzie held close to her dream. It was something that she couldn’t let go of. It was something she knew she could accomplish. However, some close to Kedzie didn’t even know what MMA was—including her parents.

“My parents actually didn’t even really understand what mixed martial arts was all about at first,” explained Kedzie in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “Over the years, they were able to see how happy I am with the sport and how dedicated I am to the art of fighting.

Julie Kedzie (R) battles Gina Carano (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

“They’ve become very supportive of my dream and I’m grateful for the fact that they have stood behind me all these years. I’ve been involved with and have loved MMA my entire life. MMA became the natural progression of my competitive nature and past.”

Over the course of the past eight years—behind the support of her parents—Kedzie has competed in a whopping 26 professional fights. She has seen her hand raised in 16 of those contests, including six finishes. Over the length of eight years, we have seen Kedzie fight no less than two fights a year and up to seven times in a single year.

However, it’s been over a year since we’ve last seen Kedzie enter the cage for action. It’s the longest break in action Kedzie has ever seen. But according to the Jackson’s MMA product, this absence won’t play a factor when we see her next.

“I didn’t exactly choose to take a year off. It was a combination of injuries and lack of fight availability. However, it’s been a great year for me in terms of personal growth. I feel fantastic right now. It’s pretty hard to get ring rust with all the great people I work with, so I think this year has actually been very beneficial,” admitted Kedzie.

While Kedzie has appeared in action more than 20 times over the course of her career, none will come bigger than her Strikeforce showdown with Miesha Tate on Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego.

“I think that this fight is a great opportunity for me, but it’s also simply just a fight. The key to winning is to concentrate on staying myself and listening to my amazing coaches. In terms of how I win this fight, everyone will just have to wait and see,” said Kedzie.

“I don’t think too far ahead in terms of how the fight will play out. Instead, my job is to go out there and scrap,” Kedzie added. “My goal is to try to finish the fight at any given moment.”

Julie Kedzie (top) battles Sarah D'Alelio (Daniel S. Archuleta/Sherdog)

When Kedzie enters the cage on Saturday, she’ll not only be representing herself, her family, and Team Jackson, but something much larger. Kedzie will be representing the entire mass of women’s MMA. It’s a task that the Albuquerque native doesn’t take lightly. As women’s MMA continues to emerge into the mainstream, Kedzie proudly remains an ambassador of a sport that was nearly non-existent eight years ago.

“It’s really been amazing to see the growth of women’s MMA. I’ve always been an optimist when it comes to female fighters, because I’ve seen how determined my peers are and how hard we all train. I’m happy that people are beginning to embrace a wider view of the sport, and I’m very grateful for Invicta and Strikeforce and all the organizations that promote the women,” admitted Kedzie.

“I hope that Strikeforce sticks around, but I actually think Invicta and the UFC have a strong possibility of holding the future of women’s MMA. I think that the UFC would be more geared towards promoting female super fights and Invicta would concentrate on building the divisions,” said Kedzie. “I really have no idea what is planned for the future.”

“Whatever happens, I think it’s pretty clear that the women have made a huge impact and deserve respect in the sport.”

Kedzie would like to thank Team Jackson/Winkeljohn’s and all of her coaches and training partners. Kedzie would also like to thank Strikeforce, Invicta, and all of the organizations out there that continue to make a place for herself and the other female fighters out there.

Top Photo: Julie Kedzie (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)