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Julie Kedzie credits MMA for helping her overcome serious eating disorder

Photo of Julie Kedzie (middle) by Esther Lin for Invicta FC.
Photo of Julie Kedzie (middle) by Esther Lin for Invicta FC.

Julie Kedzie will take on former Strikeforce women's Bantamweight champion, Miesha Tate, this Saturday (Aug. 18, 2012) at Strikeforce: "Rousey vs. Kaufman" in a fight that can have major title shot implications.

Training at the world famous Jackson-Winkeljohn gym in Albuquerque, N.M., Kedzie has polished her mixed martial arts (MMA) skills alongside world class fighters such as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones and interim Welterweight champion Carlos Condit, among others.

Having not seen action since a unanimous decision loss to Alexis Davis at Strikeforce: "Fedor vs. Henderson" back in June 2011, "Fireball" looks to get back on the winning track by taking out "Cupcake" and handing her a second consecutive loss.

Heading into Saturday's fight, Kedzie recalls a long and hard battle she had with the eating disorder bulimia, dating back to her teenage years. While enduring her parent's divorce and battles with acne medication, binge-eating was a temporary escape from her personal issues.

Now, 13 years later, Kedzie openly talks about her battle with the eating disorder and how fighting helped her escape the potentially destructive path.

Sports Illustrated has the details after the jump:

"[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. It was definitely a dark period for me. It was a six- or seven-year struggle."

Hiding her problems from her family, Kedzie made it a habit to stock up on plenty of junk food, only to vomit it back up, a vicious cycle that went on for many years before she sought therapy to help deal with the issue.

In 2007, before her fight with then unknown superstar Gina Carano, Kedzie had a chance encounter with Greg Jackson that changed her life for the better. Making the move from Indiana to New Mexico to train proved to be a very wise move for the fighter. As Jackson recalls, Kedzie's toughness in the Carano fight showed him she had what it took to mix it up with the elite level fighters in his own gym:

"There were two things about Julie that stuck out to me. First of all, she was sweet. She loaned her sauna suit to Joey (Villasenor) when he forgot his. She really went out of her way with her own fight coming up to help out a complete stranger. Her tenacity in the fight with Gina -- she'd get rocked and knocked down and she'd keep coming back. I thought anyone who's that sweet and that tough could be a member of my team anytime."

Serving as not only as a coach, but as a friend, Jackson did his part in assisting his student with her eating disorder as much as he could:

"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."

Overcoming such a devastating illness, Kedzie is now focused on another task: Climbing the ranks of women's MMA. With Ronda Rousey currently enjoying the view from the top, Kedzie can set herself up nicely to potentially challenge "Rowdy' for her throne, should she prevail victorious over Tate.

Assuming, of course, Ronda can get past the very tough Sarah Kaufman, too.

To read more on Kedzie's struggles with bulimia click here.

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