Lion's Den (mixed martial arts)

The Lion's Den is a mixed martial arts team and training facility that was based out of Susanville, California but has recently moved its headquarters to Reno, Nevada. The team was founded in the early 1990s by UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock, and featured such fighters as Mikey Burnett, Vernon White, Jerry Bohlander, Tra Telligman, Pete Williams and Guy Mezger. The Lion's Den now has a clothing line run by Ken Shamrock.


The team was founded out of necessity, as the then-new sport of mixed martial arts began to take off in the early 1990s. Shamrock, who had fought at UFC 1, had trouble finding adequate sparring partners to prepare for fights. Shamrock attracted the attention of American Pancrase fighters Vernon White and Guy Mezger early on, and formed the first ever mixed martial arts team.


Currently, The Lion's Den conducts tryouts by showcasing fighters' skills in a series of drills and live competition put on by Ken Shamrock. The new tryout format allows Ken to evaluate toughness and skill, while making cuts to determine who he wants to represent the Den.

Fighters will apply to try out and The Lion's Den only allows serious competitors with considerable skill to try out.

Historically, The Lion's Den is known for its brutal try-outs because once accepted into the Den, the members would live in Ken's home having their dinner provided by Shamrock. Ken needed to make sure only the best got through. The try out consisted of the following:

  • 500 squats
  • 200 push ups
  • 200 sit ups
  • Sprints while carrying a man of near equal weight on their back
  • 2-mile run with a man of equal weight on your back
  • Repeated runs up and down bleacher steps
  • Bear-crawls up steep hills
  • Lugging heavy barrels of water and sand bags up steep hills

The candidates who were still left at this point would then go on to do as many pull-ups as they can without stopping.

From there, the candidates went to the actual Lion's Den facility for several hours of sparring. Shamrock wanted fighters that could get through this ordeal without quitting, even after their body had failed on them. It was at this point, when the candidate was still trying even long after their muscles had failed, that Shamrock knew he had a Lion's Den member on his hands.

Although not initially trained by Shamrock, the Den took in and taught additional skills to Oleg Taktarov and Maurice Smith, among others.


Shamrock, Bohlander, and Mezger have all engaged in MMA feuds with Tito Ortiz. Ortiz emerged victorious through his competition with the Lion's Den, defeating Bolander, avenging his loss to Mezger, and beating Shamrock three times.


The Lion's Den is now overseen by Ken Shamrock and North Face CEO William A. McFarlane. The newest Lion's Den Location, in Scottsdale, Arizona is a world class facility and descibed by Billy Rush, legendary MMA coach as "the most elite and comprehensive training facility in North America." The Scottsdale Location boast 8500 square feet of training space including a competion ring and cage as well as a second to none coaching staff. Coaches include six time world champion kickboxer Rick Roufus, Bob Karmel (muay thai), Carlos Faria, Black Belt Brazilian Jitsu instructor and several others who offer world class training

Recently, the Lion's Den was reformed, and is currently training new up-and-coming fighters.

IFL Fight Team

The Lions Den is one of the camps participating in the International Fight League. Coached by MMA legend Ken Shamrock, the Lions Den took the place of the Nevada Lions when the IFL decided to focus more on a camp-based system then a team-based system. Most of the member of the Nevada Lions were already members of the Lions Den which is also coached by Shamrock.


All records are IFL fights only

a= alternate bout that does not go towards team record

GP= fought during the individual GP, does not go towards team record

Team record as of 2/29/08: 1-2


def Ray Steinbeiss by decision (unanimous) (01/19/07)

lost to Rory Markham by TKO in the third round (04/07/07)

def Mike Guymon by decision (split) (06/16/07)

lost to Jake Ellenberger by decision (unanimous) (02/29/08)

def Luke Johnson by submission in the first round (04/07/07)a

def Christopher Kennedy by decision (unanimous) (06/16/07)a

originally White was supposed to face San Jose Razor Claws member Raphael Davis on 1/19/07 but due to a California state commission ruling the fight was called off because of the large disparity in experience between White (who has over 50 MMA fights) and Davis (who only has 2). In place of the LHW battle, the two alternate LWs of the teams will face off instead.

def Sam Hoger by submission (rear naked choke) in the second round (04/07/07)

lost to Mike Whitehead by TKO (strikes) in the second round (06/16/07)

IFL Heavyweight Champion

def Vince Lucero by TKO (strikes) in the first round (01/19/07)

lost to Ben Rothwell by decision (split) (04/07/07)

def Shane Ott by decision (unanimous) (06/16/07)

def Bryan Vetell by TKO (strikes) in the third round (11/03/07)GP

def Antoine Jaoude by TKO (strikes) in the second round to win the Heavyweight title (12/29/07)GP

def Fabiano Scherner by TKO (strikes) in the first round (02/29/08)

def Brad Imes by TKO (strikes) in the first round (05/16/08)


def Josh Odom by submission (triangle choke) in the first round (01/19/07)

lost to Bart Palaszewski by decision (split) (04/07/07)

def Gabe Casillas by submission (rear naked choke) in the second round (06/16/07)

lost to Wagney Fabiano by submission (guillotine choke) in the second round (11/03/07)GP

lost to Ryan Schultz by decision (unanimous) (2/29/08)

left to join Team Tompkins

2008 Season Schedule/ Results

February 29, 2008
Date Opponent Result
Team Quest (IFL camp) L 1-2

Notable fighters

Other associated fighters

External links

Ken Shamrock is now the coach of the International Fight League team the Nevada Lions which features Vernon "Tiger" White , Dan Molina, John Gunderson, Pat Healy, and Roy Nelson as starters with fighters such as Joe Martin (who made his IFL debut in January 2007 in lieu of White), Rick Reeves, and Rocky Batastini as alternates. The Lion's Den recently moved to Reno, NV in April 2007

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