Volume 14, Issue 3 - May/June 2012
Alex Hayworth, a windshield technician at Ultra Bond Inc. in Grand Junction, Colo., has an unusual hobby: he is a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter. While he’s been doing MMA, also known as extreme fighting, for only 1.5 years, he says he started to wrestle when he was 7. “I took up wrestling for self-defense,” he says. “I got picked on a lot. I was a scrawny little asthmatic kid. So I took up wrestling. I got a lot healthier and got to love it.”
Hayworth got his first taste of winning at a school meet that first year. “I’ve won 75 percent of my matches,” he says. “I’ve done about 600 wrestling matches, mostly state tournaments.”
Once out of high school, Hayworth started taking an interest in MMA, he says. “I watched wrestlers, such as Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnon and Brock Lesnar, transition to MMA, and that got me interested in it,” he says. He already has won two MMA promotional fights organized by Cage Wars, an MMA organization.
“Collegiate wrestling is different than MMA,” Hayworth says. “Wrestling is about take down and grappling, it’s point-oriented. MMA is finishing your opponent by submission or knock-out. Wrestling is only one aspect of MMA, which takes kick-boxing, boxing, Jujitsu, Sambo Taekwondo, Karate, Kung Fu, all under one roof.”
MMA’s “brutal but it’s more refined than it used to be,” Hayworth says. “It used to be a pretty barbaric sport.” It started in Japan and Brazil in the 1970s, he says. “It started with Helio Grace and the Grace family in Brazil back in the 1970s. Helio Grace just passed. He developed the style where the littler guy could take on a bigger guy and win.” Even Mohammed Ali did an MMA fight, he says.
Richard Campfield, founder and president of Ultra Bond Inc. and Hayworth’s boss, has watched Hayworth fight. “Having grown up in a family of boxers (my dad, all of my uncles, my brother, myself and two cousins) and my son Adam [who] is a black belt, I can say I was very impressed with the MMA fight I saw Alex fight,” Campfield says. “I was very impressed with how he ended it in one minute. He was careful and in control enough to not break the opponent’s neck, which he was in a position to do about 30 seconds into the fight. I just wish I could use Alex to fight my battles, instead of lawyers.”
Hayworth’s family, however, is not as enthusiastic about MMA. He has broken his hand, his nose, tore a lateral collateral ligament, and dislocated a rib all while doing MMA. “My mother, especially, doesn’t like it,” he says. “She likes the idea of keeping fit, but not the fight. My two sisters don’t like it, either.” His 14-year-old nephew wrestles, though, Hayworth adds.
Hayworth practices five to six days a week. “I work full-time, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and practice from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.,” he says. “I just want to get a lot of wins under me. I’m still pretty new to the game.”
The 23-year-old says his proudest moment so far was winning his first MMA fight through Cage Wars on February 4. “It takes a lot of dedication and practice,” he says. “At this time, it’s a hobby, but maybe some day I’d like to be a professional.”