Jackson's MMA product Julie "Fireball" Kedzie (16-12) is on the cusp of having spent a full decade on the frontline of women's MMA. Though the numbers on her record are rather unremarkable, the bulk of Kedzie's losses were dealt by upper-echelon opposition, as portrayed by the three-fight skid (Alexis Davis, Miesha Tate, Germaine de Randamie) she'll be looking to snap against undefeated Brazilian newcomer Bethe "Pitbull" Correia (6-0).
As insinuated by her nickname, Correia reps the "Pitbull Brothers" fight team, which is captained by Bellator MMA siblings Patricio and Patricky Freire. Correia made her MMA debut halfway through 2012 and has emerged unscathed after six outings with decision-heavy victories (5 decisions, 1 TKO).
Correia, who seems to be well versed and confident in all aspects, will take an astronomical leap in competition against the battle-hardened Kedzie. Despite being a relatively inexperienced prospect, Correia conducts herself with veteran savvy and has a cold-blooded and methodical demeanor. She's yet to panic or be rattled and her unwavering composure might be her best asset. When factoring in the other facets in which Correia excels -- such as her high level of aggression and overall diversity -- the 30-year-old Brazilian has enormous potential and room to grow, and could develop into a force at 135 pounds.
With a 3rd degree black belt in Taekwondo, Kedzie is a striking-based fighter with a wide arsenal of kicks; her front push kicks, low kicks and high kicks are the most prominent and effective. Despite the common sentiment that wrestling and grappling are Kedzie's weak spots, her offensive submission game, sweeps and defensive scrambling are quite sound. Submission defense and takedowns, however, are not amongst her more refined capabilities.
Correia utilizes her jab well and waits for the right time before unloading high-volume salvos with both hands, but does so with her chin dangerously exposed. She's imposed a lot of successful top control but had to work hard to secure takedowns through striking set-ups and timing. On the mat, Correia is more of a positional pounder than a submission whiz.
The betting odds favor Kedzie here, likely because of her dramatic edge in experience, and so do I. While she's yet to demonstrate her prowess at the top level, Correia undoubtedly has the mentality, skill-set and potential to announce her arrival with a workmanlike upset.
My Prediction: Julie Kedzie by decision.