Julie “Fireball” Kedzie (16-12, 0-1 UFC) vs. Bethe “Pitbull” Correia (6-0), at UFC Fight Night 33
Kicking off the main card of UFC Fight Night 33 is the lone women’s bout on the schedule featuring WMMA veteran Julie Kedzie taking on up n coming UFC debutant Bethe Correia. Will the veteran reestablish herself as a force or will yet another new contender emerge out of Brazil?
Julie Kedzie is a bona fide WMMA veteran having started fighting back in 2004 for the fondly remembered HOOKnSHOOT promotion in the mid western USA. She got her start in Tae Kwon Do, later added Muay Thai, and rounded her skill set out with submission grappling with well known trainers Erik Paulson of CSW and eventually Greg Jackson of MMA super gym Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA in Albuquerque New Mexico where she still trains today. As can be expected Kedzie has faced almost all of her fellow WMMA vets along the way and despite losing to most of them she has truly progressed into a very solid fighter today with strengths like:
-Experience– Alexis Davis, Meisha Tate, Kaitlin Young, Gina Carano (remember her), Germaine de Randamie, Kedzie’s fought them all. In fact Kedzie and Carano hold the distinction of being the first 2 WMMA fighters featured on premium cable when they squared off in a 2007 EliteXC show. She has also had fights in The USA, Russia and Canada so heading to the land down under should not be an issue.
– Kedzie is also no slouch in the striking arena. Her Muay Thai and especially her Tae Kwon Do are highly visible as she lands nice side kicks to the body as well as the occasional high kick and outside leg kick. Her hands can also be useful when in close or mid range punching her way in close, landing nice knees to the thighs or body while in there, and hitting a nice with sneaky punch or elbow when exiting the clinch.
-Let us not forget the Fireball moniker and what got it for her, aggression. Julie goes hard from the opening bell and is ALWAYS WORKING! Seriously it’s as if this girl never stops fighting, even when stuffing a takedown or scrambling on the mat she is looking to attack.
With 12 losses on her record and 3 in her last 3 fights, obviously Kedzie has some room for improvement.
-Kedzie is often on the wild and reckless side. Especially when faced with a good striker she relies way too much on her incredible ability to eat a punch, at times appearing too tough for her own good. This gets her into trouble on the ground too with her unsuccessfully resorting to some unconventional scrambling to get out of bad spots.
Working with such a great striking coach as Mike Winkeljohn it is surprising to see such pedestrian defense from Kedzie fairly often. It can be deceiving that she has no KO losses on her record but again that is thanks to her great chin. Being in the UFC now means facing the hardest hitters in the game and after a long career and many punches eaten, Kedzie needs to sow this up.
Facing the American WMMA veteran is Bethe Correia, a Brazilian fighter making her first trip to the Octagon in her first time fighting out of her homeland Brazil. She is faced with a tall task fighting such an established pro under these circumstances but there is no better way to create some buzz than to make a statement here.
-Bethe’s primary strength is her striking; she keeps her hands held high and her chin tucked as she engages and when she opens up she possesses good power in her punches and leg kicks. Most of her attacks seem to be created off her jab which she paws with quite often to get her range and timing down. On the feet and from top position she hits hard with both hands.
-Also strong is Bethe’s defense, which is not usually strong in young fighters but has served her well thus far and may be her best hope against the better competition she will face in the UFC. She doesn’t get hit often, is good at shrugging off takedown attempts, and she is very good at catching opponents body kicks and countering very effectively. In fact, most of her best offense comes from countering. It seems she has won most fights in her young career by countering/shutting opponents down and producing enough offense of her own to get the judges nod.
Being a bit green in MMA means there is still much work to do and many skills to sharpen. Some of the ones that can use the most work are:
-Attacking early and often needs to become more a part of her strategy. She’s had little trouble completely nullifying her past opponent’s offense and it may be quite a shock when she eventually encounters a more dangerous, dynamic, foe. Strike first.
-Then there’s the quality of her competition so far. Of the 6 pro fights Bethe has had, 3 of them were against fighters who normally fight a weight class down, and together all of them have a combined record of 12-12, not exactly a murderer’s row.
-Finally there is the issue of her movement, or lack thereof. While big and strong, Bethe has had a habit of being all light on her feet when there is nothing going on and then becoming plodding and flat footed when engaging. And throwing wide right-left combos is not gona cut it against the better fighters out there; they will see openings a mile away.
Whenever we have fights like this with a veteran fighter on a losing streak facing a largely unproven rookie, it can be very tough to pick a winner. But in this case I am going with the veteran Kedzie. Looking at her record does not show that in many of her losses she made a hell of a fight out of it. Even in losing to Meisha Tate in 2012 Julie was dominating the fight up until that point. You never know, Correia could come to this fight and make a statement but my money is on Julie Kedzie taking a decision win in a tough fight.