Invicta FC, the premiere women's MMA organization around the globe, just enriched their ranks despite having lost the bulk of their strawweight division. Former UFC women's bantamweight standout, Julie Kedzie has been named the new matchmaker for the promotion by president, Shannon Knapp.
We last saw Kedzie fighting in the Octagon just nine days ago, dropping a tough split decision to Brazilian, Bethe Correia. It was a decision that a large contingency of fans felt she won, but the 32 year old Jackson's MMA fighter had already made up her mind to retire from competition prior to heading into the bout that night.
I conducted a quick interview with Julie a few moments ago who detailed her plans for the future with both Invicta and Jackson's MMA, as well as some of the duties she'll undertake and the goals she plans to achieve with her new career and if she ever plans to fight again. Here's what she had to say:
At the moment, my decision to retire is permanent, and it feels like the right decision for me. If I have an itch a year from now or two years from now, like 'Oh, I've got to get back in there and fight', I'm not going to deny myself that, but I really don't have any desire to fight anymore. It's pretty much permanent, however, it was 29 fights in my career, so if I decide that it has to be 30, you know [laughs]. My coach said that I should allow myself the luxury to change my mind in the future, but it's just not what I'm feeling.
When it comes to her newest assignment with Invicta, Julie says she'll be under the wing of Shannon Knapp while she learns the ropes of matchmaking.
I knew that Shannon wanted bigger things for me, a stronger presence within the company. I mentioned to my manager that I was interested, and she got right into contact with me. Yesterday, we were on the phone for two hours and she said, 'You're it, you're hired.' She's giving this old, broken fighter a new career, and it's awesome [laughs].
I'm going to be learning as I go, so really, at the moment, I'm going to be writing up some plans and suggestions, trying to make contact with new fighters, and do all that first. As far as the signing and hiring of new talent, until she gives me more of an outline of what she expects, I'll be following her lead. She promised that she'll groom me for this role and help me to live up to the expectations of it.
Obviously, Shannon has been doing everything since Janet (Martin) is no longer with the company, so it will be good to take some of that burden off her shoulders. She's going to train me and teach me what she expects from me. I don't know everything up front yet; it's just something that I will be learning as I go.
As far as her work with Jackson's MMA day to day running and being the personal assistant of Greg Jackson, not much will change. Julie says it will be a similar schedule to when she's training for fights.
I don't think it's going to hurt too much. I'll be around for the training sessions and to help the women out with coaching and sparring. I'll just set up an office here in the gym, and be doing my work in the afternoons and evenings here, after morning practice sessions. Greg considers it to be like when I was fighting. Fighting was a full time job, in addition to working for him full time. It should work out pretty well.
Kedzie says her goals are to get contenders lined up for the title holders and to make sure that acquiring girls with some type of experience, whether it be amateur or professional, is top priority when refilling the diminished strawweight roster.
My first goal is to make sure all the title holders have contenders to make fights. We owe all the women fights, if they're signed to our organization, we owe them fights, but especially the belt holders, they need to be insured that there are valid contenders. That's something that I really have my eye on, making sure we get the right match-ups for title fights.
Strawweight is pretty much vacated at the moment, and there's talk of adding a 155 pound division, so it's going to be fun to find and develop new talent. From what I understand, there's quite a few women trying to get in to fill the strawweight vacancy already, so I'm pretty sure we'll be in a position to groom a strawweight title fight in this next year.
I want to see girls who have a lengthy amateur career or solid pro fights before we sign them. I'll be following Shannon's guidance for a while, so I'm secondary in this, but for me, I want to make sure that these women have enough combat experience so that we're not just throwing people in there to get hurt. If it's a pro debut, they should have lengthy amateur experience.
We want to make sure we get people in that are used to fighting and know that they love fighting and want to make it a career in earnest. The women that are already a part of Invicta are amazing, and anybody that comes in to fight them should really prove themselves.
While she's not sure of an exact timeline for Invicta's next scheduled outing, she did give a rough estimate of sometime in February or March. Plenty of time to get her feet under her and on firm ground, especially with Shannon Knapp guiding her. I definitely look forward to seeing all that Julie brings to the table. It's a perfect match indeed.