by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
When six young hopefuls arrived at Ken Sharmock’s estate in early December for Lion’s Den tryouts, no one was quite sure what to expect. Quickly these six prospects realized they were possibly in over their heads and in for the physical endurance test of a lifetime. WATCH IT TODAY ON MMAWEEKLY TV!

After already having completed various tasks in temperatures around 30 degrees at Shamrock’s five acre estate, the six young fighters were moved to the Lion’s Den training facilities to finish their day-long tryouts that would see them tested to the very brink.

Upon arriving at the facilities and being put through further physical challenges, one fighter drops out, hopes dashed of joining the re-emerging Lion’s Den. With one fighter down and five to go, things get more intense and serious as the challenges only get tougher from here on out.

After finishing crab walks and barrel walks, Shamrock sits down the remaining five hopefuls and explains to them what is to come next. They must do a rotation of various skills without rest, one after the other, for five full rotations. Each station is specifically designed to test a fighter’s preliminary skill in that area and further test their stamina, both mentally and physically.

Of course not only are medical professionals looking on to rehydrate the fighters and check their physical well being, but members of the Lion’s Den, Vernon “Tiger” White, Richard Montoya, and Ashe Bowman, are on hand to give their own special brand of “encouragement” to the prospects.

Constant belittling and encouragement to quit is the order of the day for these three fighters turned drill instructors. Reminding the prospects that they can quit and that they don’t have what it takes to be part of the Lion’s Den, they force the participants to reach deep within themselves to defy the criticism and overcome their obstacles.

After Shamrock explains what is to be done, the fighters begin to set up at their stations. First is a grappling station where the hopefuls will grapple, without strikes, against a member of the Lion’s Den. Next is a focus mits exercise, where a prospect’s ability to put together combinations and fallow instruction is tested. Finally is a gauntlet of bags, each one representing a station. One is a heavy bag where fighters must constantly punch and use elbows, the other a knee bag where prospects focus their Thai kneeing ability, then another heavy bag where kicking along with striking is used, finally a uppercut bag where the hopefuls must focus their uppercut skills.

Each fighter will spend a couple minutes at each station, rotating non-stop without rest, constantly working and being evaluated for technique and drive. Already worn down from the earlier exercises the five hopefuls rotate twice around the stations, testing their grappling, striking, and endurance. Unfortunately one fighter is seen taking it easy and the rotation the hopefuls have made is ruled invalid, thus another has to be made for a total of six rotations.

It’s hard enough to grapple a fresh fighter, work focus mits, and stay sharp on the bags when someone is at full strength, but after hours of hard work and verbal assault from others makes it extremely difficult to focus and put in the proper technique and work. Just surviving becomes the order of the day, and to think, possibly the worst is yet to come.