Women in Mixed Martial Arts: Fighting for Equality Part II

fightergirls.jpgUltimate Grappling has recently addressed the state of women in mixed martial arts.  Mainstream news agencies like nbcsports.com and newamericanmedia.org have also recognized women in the sport of  MMA as a newsworthy topic.   In the year 2008, www.fightergirls.com  increased its registered fighters to include over 1000 women.  With this type of growth, it is only natural for Ultimate Grappling to continue giving well-deserved exposure to the female patrons, practitioners and pageants of mixed martial arts.  

The
growth of mixed martial arts has aided in giving women a respectful
platform.  The overall increase in
popularity is bringing MMA not only to more cable networks, but also to prime
time television.  Women are no
longer just the eye candy that holds up the round cards.  Ultimate Grappling recently caught up
with Julie Kedzie and Michele Waterson, 
MMA fighters worth watching.

Julie
Kedzie (13-8-0, fights 135lb),  a pro fighter
managed by Debi Purcell who trains out of Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts in
Albuquerque, New Mexico got introduced to the fighting sports when training for
her 2
nd degree tae kwon do black belt.  "We were required to cross-train in other arts to get our
black belt degrees... so I tried muay thai and loved it, " reimiences
Kedzie.  Although Kedzie no longer
practices her tae kwon do, she is grateful that she was required to try other
styles as part of her black belt excellence program.  "Going for my third degree didn't mean as much to me as the
doors that it opened for me in the martial arts, " explains Kedzie.

Kedzie
has been committed to the MMA game for several years now.  Her love of the sport lead her to
re-locate from Bloomington, Indiana to Albuquerque to be able to train full
time.  Leaving her job and
boyfriend behind, Kedzie now trains 4-5 hours a day at Jackson's MMA and has
even taken on a job working for Greg Jackson so she has less distractions
keeping her from training in a well-rounded and intense MMA program.   Kedzie admits MMA hasn't been
always a smooth transition, "When I first came to Jackson's, I didn't have a
sense of the submission game.  My
relationship wasn't good with the ground game - I hated it at first - now it
has grown on
me."julie.jpg

First
class fighters surround Kedzie. 
Her boxing sparring partner is Holly Holm (19-1-2, IFBA welterweight
title holder) and she trains with Keith Jardine (13-3-1), Dan Christison
(11-6-0) and Nathan Marquardt (26-7-2).   When preparing for a fight, Kedzie runs in the early
morning, attends team training at 10:30am, finishing with hard conditioning and
then moves on to technique classes in the evening and more cardio before
bedtime.  A recent fight
earned her a win by an armbar submission against Angela Hayes on April 11
th.  She is currently taking time off of
sparring to have eye surgery, a procedure called PRK, which corrects vision by
re-shaping the eye's cornea. 
Kedzie who admits she is legally blind in her left eye, is turning her
hiatus into an opportunity,  "Since
I need to take a break from fight training to avoid trauma to my eye, I will
have a chance to work more on technique and gain more muscle which will benefit
me when I sign a new contract." 
Previously under contract with Bodog, Kedzie eagerly awaits a new
contract and hopes she will not spend too much time as a free agent.  With aspirations of becoming one the
best MMA fighters out there, Kedzie believes she will be in the game for
another 10 years.  With hopes like
that, she would be retiring from the fight game at the age of 37, not
unreasonable by today's standards. 

Michele
Waterson (6-3-0), a new comer to the sport of MMA has received recognition  from her appearance on the Oxygen
channels' show Fight Girls that aired this past winter.   Waterson a new addition to Greg
Jackson's team in Albuquerque, New Mexico is originally a traditional martial
artist who found the combat sports while vacationing in Thailand.  Her initiating martial experience was
in American Freestyle Karate.  With
aspirations as a little girl of being just like her brother, Waterson took up
karate to be closer to him.  She
stuck with karate from the age of 
11 to 19 and then moved into wushu.  It wasn't until the age of 20 years old, that she had her
first exposure to the fight sports.

Waterson
who is half Thai, visited Thailand with her mother  and asked to be signed up for a two week Muay Thai
camp.  Although the coaches took it
easy on her, Waterson fell in love with the sport and begged the Thai
instructors to train her just like the Thai natives.  "I was the only girl at the camp.  And since they knew I was from America, they wanted to make
sure that they didn't work me too hard and possibly lose the money I would pay
every day to train, "  remembers
Waterson.  Soaking up as much as
she could in the two-week period, Waterson returned to her home in Colorado
eager to find Muay Thai or MMA training. 

Ironically,
it was Waterson's role as a ring girl that led her on a path of MMA
training.  "I was a ring girl at a
local MMA event in Colorado.  There
I was talking to the fighters all about martial arts and how I wanted to fight
MMA.  None of them took me
seriously except for one guy named Donald Cerrone (7-0).  Donald then took me under his wing and
I started learning MMA, "  Waterson
gratefully explains.  After training
with Cerrone for a short period, Waterson took a couple amateurs Muay Thai
fights and applied for the show Fight Girls.  After spending 5 weeks on the show and training with Master
Toddy, Waterson admits, " I didn't now where to go, So Donald suggested
Jackson's MMA .. . I went there for a couple of weeks and lived in the
dojo.  I fell in love with the
place and didn't want to go back to Denver and I have been here at Jackson's
for a year now. "

michelle-waterson-nike-sports-bra.jpgWaterson
who has a 6-3-0MMA pro fight record admits she is very inexperienced.  She explains, " Both of my losses have
been on the ground.  That is why I
am so happy to be with Greg Jackson. 
He is so technical and helpful." 
Although Waterson would like to continue fighting in Muay Thai as well
as MMA, her coach is encouraging her to stay focused on MMA.  "I just jumped into the MMA thing and I
have so much to learn and I need to be patient and understand there is a lot to
learn, "  explains Waterson with an
enlightened tone.   With such
a great attitude, a strong athletic foundation and pure eagerness to learn,
Waterson will be seen in the near future. 
She has recently signed a deal with EliteXC and a clothing company. 

 

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