Destrehan martial arts gym Team Oliveira rooted in MMA

In just one year since it opened, Destrehan martial arts gym Team Oliveira, located on Storehouse Lane, has quickly earned a local reputation for excellence in martial arts training.

Team Oliveira is largely the brainchild of Brazilian native Junior Oliveira, 38, a former professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter who has held a Brazilian black belt since 2016. Oliveira is highly skilled in the fighting styles of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai, both styles taught in his gym.

The Oliveira family name may sound familiar to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fans, as it carries major weight in the world of MMA. Junior’s younger 34-year-old brother Charles Oliveira, who is affiliated with Team Oliveira, holds multiple UFC records. The younger Oliveira remains an active UFC fighter, carrying the number one UFC lightweight ranking in 2022 and, as of June 2023, ranked an impressive number seven overall in UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.

Junior Oliveira first began training in his native Brazil, studying Jiu-Jitsu starting when he was just 12 years old. It would eventually lead to a lifelong quest of knowledge in martial arts and self-improvement.

“I suffered from bullying in school,” Oliveira said of his younger days in Brazil. “One day I realized I needed to start to defend myself…and that’s when I started training in Jiu-Jitsu.”

Oliveira eventually would go on to compete professionally as an MMA fighter, fighting in both 135 pound and 145-pound weight classes. He ended his professional career early to travel and work in the United States, where he had dreams of eventually opening his own gym. He fought his last professional fight two years ago, with the idea to focus his time training and coaching others.

“You cannot be [an effective] coach and [an effective] fighter at the same time, in my opinion,” Oliveira said of his philosophy on training and coaching. “If you coach, you need to be 100 percent [focused on] coaching.”

Oliveira moved to St. Charles Parish around 10 years ago to work in Bunge’s Destrehan location and began coaching and training at a local gym in New Orleans in his free time. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, temporarily shuttering many gyms in the New Orleans area, Oliveira says he suddenly had more time to reflect on how he was spending his time, much of it in commuting every day in addition to his normal workday.

“I realized that it was very far for me to drive to New Orleans and back all the time, every day,” Oliveira said. “Eventually, we decided to open up a gym here in Destrehan.”

With his wife’s blessing and his brother Charles’ support, Oliveira and his neighbor Jeff Henderson, an experienced local martial artist also from Destrehan, began operating Team Oliveira last year. With a focus on self-defense and self-discovery rather than competition, teaching both Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai styles, the gym has steadily built up a stable of returning clientele.

“I’m very happy with what’s happening right now [at Team Oliveira],” Oliveira said of his Destrehan gym’s growth. “Most of the people that are training with us, they live locally…we are building this [gym] for the community.”

Team Oliveira’s co-professor, Jeff Henderson, a fellow black belt martial artist of multiple disciplines, said it has been a smooth experience coaching alongside Oliveira at their gym.

“I’ve never met anyone like him before,” Henderson said of his partner Oliveira, both of whom live just four doors apart from each other. “He’s an awesome person – full of life, energy and positivity.”

Team Oliveira offers a varied mix of instruction for adults and kids, personal training and open mat times on Saturdays. Henderson said he particularly enjoys training younger students, and always works to instill some of his own personal philosophy surrounding martial arts into each class.

“I give them my three words: focus, respect and discipline,” Henderson said. “You have to have those three characteristics, and that’s what we’re trying to build up in the kids in this younger generation, so that they are not susceptible to the bad things they can get caught up in as they get older.”

Personal growth and improvement are both themes at the core of Team Oliveira, central philosophies both Henderson and Oliveira echoed in their separate comments regarding their Destrehan martial arts gym.

“I always tell my students – don’t try to be better than your partner or the person you are training with,” Oliveira cautioned. “[Instead], try to be better than yourself, every day.”

For more information on Team Oliveira and its current offerings, visit them on Facebook or on the web at


1 Comment

  1. I just wanted to say I just love the way junior and Jeff work out with us I’m so proud of junior he is the best I love be part this team my daughter just love to go to the training and so do I
    Thank you for the opportunity to part. Thank you for your support Thank you for encouraging me and my daughter to not stop and I’m so happy ❤️

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