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Chris Oth | Knuckle Junkies

Worden has constructed Destruction MMA

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

Through his own sweat and toil, Joe Worden has slowly but surely built a powerhouse MMA gym in Farmington.

Destruction MMA has made a name for itself both in and out of Missouri, and a main reason for that, is the work put in by its owner.

Worden, 35, has been training since he was 10-years old, earning brown belts in tae kwon do and judo. From the ages of 16 thru 18, Worden was a top-flight kickboxer, winning the Missouri state kickboxing championship. After high school, he went on to teach defensive tactics in the Marine Corp and at the police academy.

"I've done a lot," Worden said. "I've been sticking with this forever. Its what I like to do."

Worden has brought Destruction MMA back from the ashes, literally. The gym was located in Ironton but a fire last year destroyed what he had created (More on this story tomorrow.)

It was in the Marines that Worden got his first taste of MMA training.

"I was stationed in California and guys were training with the Gracies out there, so we started training in the barracks at night," he said. "It was kind of crazy but that's how I learned."

Worden is the head coach and striking coach at Destruction; for the groundwork he brings in Jason Smith along with Steve and Jon Menke.

"Anybody who knows jiu-jitsu knows Steve Menke and his son John," Worden said. "Studs. Straight studs."

But coaching is something Worden never foresaw himself doing.

"I never thought about it," he said. "I was a fighter and I loved to fight. But I was always that guy that people would say, ‘Can you show me how you did that?' But I never thought that I could break it down like I do. But that's what everyone says. I have UFC vets, Strikeforce vets here and everyone says the same thing; you break it down for each individual fighter. It's not cookie cutter."

In his first year, Destruction fighter went 78-12 and from there it has only gotten better.
"I get calls for title fights every day," Worden said. "It's been a whirlwind."

Destruction houses some of the state's top fighters. Alex White, who is getting ready to make his pro debut, is one of the top-ranked amateurs in the state and the Midwest. Eric Irvin has solidified his position as an amateur and is now working on his pro resume. Nearly all of Destruction's regular amateur fighters are ranked in the top five in the state. This hands-on approach to bringing up fighter's is something that Worden relishes.

"It's easier to buy a house than it is to build a house," he said. "I built my house. My guys pretty much came to me with no background whatsoever. I have brought fighters up from ground zero. No striking, no wrestling, no jiu-jitsu. To me, it's more rewarding than to buy a fighter."

Destruction MMA was recently recognized by Spire Sanctioning when it won 2011 Team of the Year.

Worden says keeping his nose to the grindstone and the fact that he is located well outside St. Louis keeps him and his team away from petty distractions.

"I've never gotten into the politics of the local MMA scene," Worden said. "I've stayed away from that. I'm down here by myself and I kind of like that. In Nebraska and Iowa we're known as the Midwest's best kept secret. When they call us that, to me, it's good."

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