When Miesha Tate (12-3) faces Julie Kedzdie (16-9) on Showtime, Tate is considered to be a heavy favorite. But, Kedzie’s story is equally compelling.
While Tate is the more dominating fighter (According to ProMMANow, odds are currently listed as: Tate -465 vs. Kedzie +365) with a more storied history, these are two of the most fascinating veterans in women’s MMA. When Kezdie takes on the former bantamweight champion, she will certainly look back on the roads that she has crossed to get where she is today.
At 18, Kedzie faced severe depression and anxiety and was plagued by a horrific eating disorder to give her momentary pleasure.
"It was definitely a dark period for me," she told Loretta Hunt of Sports Illustrated. "It was a six- or seven-year struggle."
In her time of recovery, there were many things that she had to do to rediscovery herself as an individual and as a fighter. She moved in with her sister to curb the attacks, saw a therapist and started to devote her life to a passion.
Kedzie dropped out of college to pursue women’s mixed martial arts, but has since earned a degree in English literature. She had also moved from Indiana to New Mexico for training at a world-class gym among some of the world’s best athletes.
The endearing athlete has since made a name for herself among the other athletes who train among her.
"I always say she's the Lucille Ball of MMA," said trainer Greg Jackson in his Sports Illustrated interview with Hunt. "She's very smart, but things happen to Julie that don't happen to other people. She'll always dropping her phone or accidentally running her car into a garage. Just stuff like that."
But according to the article, Kedzie, 31, still suffers from occasional relapses.
"It's a legitimate illness that can cause a lot of damage, so I just tried to attack it as head-on I could. I'm not a trained psychologist, but I tried to support her as much as I could. I tried to create a positive atmosphere that supported her not doing that any more, but ultimately the change had to come from her."
"[Bulimia] wasn't something I mentioned in my career [until now] because I don't think it made me sound very tough, but I emerged from it and here I am," said Kedzie (via Sports Illustrated).
And here she became. The fighter became the first woman to ever be shown on Showtime and earned “Fight of the Night” honors in her first match.
“I didn’t really think it was that big of a deal,” Kedzie explained to Sherdog inside trainer Greg Jackson (via Tristan Critchfield of Sherdog). “I’m pretty sure my manager had explained it to me, but to me, it was another fight. I like everything just being another fight.”
That’s the kind of mentality that she will need to take when she faces Miesha Tate on Saturday night.
“I’ve been asked whether Tate is the biggest bout of my career a lot, but she’s just another opponent. I don’t disrespect her or her marketing schemes or whatever she does, but she’s just another fighter. That’s how I see it,” said Kedzie (via Sherdog).
Tate seems to have echoed these sentiments.
“I'm preparing for her as though I am fighting the number one girl. I figure if I was training to fight Ronda [Rousey] or Sarah [Kaufman], then I'll make if through Julie and move on to fight one of those girls,” Tate told David Ciapala of Yahoo! Sports. “So I'm just training as hard as I can - just preparing myself the best that I can.
And not that I have much of a game plan, honestly. I'm just going to go out there and let my skill set and my instincts kick in for me.”
But Kedzie has remained level-headed.
"I think I match up very well with Miesha,” said Kedzie to Carlin Bardsley of SportsNet. “We've had a couple of similar opponents, but we've never actually fought each other so it's about time. I think I match up very well technically, and I bring a lot to the table that people aren't necessarily aware of from my past fights and I'm looking forward to showing them a fully developed fighter."
Kedzie is an inspirational fighter given all that she have achieved to reach the success that she is now familiar with today.
The two face off at 8 p.m. ET and PT on Showtime Extreme.