Scott Bessac OG MMA/Lion’s Den AMA

I recently asked Scott Bessac aka Gunthug1 to describe some of the brutal Jump Ins that occurred at The Lion’s Den after he mentioned the tapes would never be released. After that he asked me if I had any other questions and I suggested he start a post and he asked me to start it. He was there at the beginning and is a no nonsense dude who will tell it how it was without pulling any punches. Here below is the post on another thread that started this. So ask him anything in this thread. Thanks Scott for opening up your chapter in mma/nhb history.

My question to start - how did you get involved in the Lion’s Den and who was the toughest guy that you encountered in your years of nhb? Describe what made them so tough.

We don’t get much interaction these days from OGs of mma, so enjoy this one.

Also mods, get this guy his green name or whatever it is now!



I can tell you about a few
Frank had just got out of folsom prison and Bob brought him right to the Den. I asked Ken if I could jump him in he said he wanted to do it so Frank feared him. Then for the next 30mins Ken basically committed attempted murder on Frank. Knocked him out hit him with knees to the face that were beyond brutal and submitted him over and over. It wasn’t til about 15mins in that us guys watching realized nobody had told Frank he could tap so 1of us yelled to him about tapping. It was brutal and Ken got his point across. Frank made it and became a young boy. Vernon jumped guy in that was a war. Vernon submitted guy alot but standing it was brutal guy made it both were beat up. I Don’t remember anybody I jumped in that made it they usually had to be taken to Lodi memorial hospital. But that’s because Ken would let me jump in the big mouth,I’ve had 300 street fights,if I kill you your fam can’t sue me guys. Or Hickson Gracie chief instructor who wanted to be in Pancrase but not train at the den,forgot his name. After Ken and him had a meeting in Ken’s office Ken called me back there and said what he said and said Scotty fuck him up. In the first 10secs I hit him with a overhand right that when it landed sounded like a gunshot in the warehouse he was out fell into the corner of the Thai ring I ran up started kneeing him in the face while he was still out everybody jumped in to pull me off him when they finally did inside karate was there writing a story about us,I threw my mouth piece at the writer dude and Jason got me to come outside with him so he could calm me down. But back in thòse days if you were disrespectful or condescending to the Den you were gonna get seriously fucked up. I was the only lion’s den fighter that had no martial arts experience of any kind nor was I a wrestler the only time in the real world I had been on the ground with a guy was when I was pistol whipping him. So for me it wasn’t a sport or entertainment it was being given free reign to inflict as much damage on another man as possible. Jason jump in jeff masalgia who was a ex airborne ranger. Great fight til Jason dropped him and when he got up I told him to come over to me. He had a blown pupil I told Ken Ken asked do you still want to fight Jeff said yes Ken said your in now take him to the hospital. Vernon jumped in Zane Fraiser after he had been in at least 2 UFC’s. Lasted like 3mins Zane quit. Vernon also jumped Roland Payne in after he was in ufc3 lasted about 3mins. Dozens and dozens more and hundreds of challenge fights which all ended bloody and viciously. If it happened nowadays with all the cellphone with cameras we would have all done serious prison time. Lion’s Den was a very unique dojo because some fighters were sportsmen,some competitive in the ufc and Pancrase but didn’t want to really mame or kill a guy. And then a couple of us that in things we did before curb stomping some dope boy was a normal thing. It for me was perfect. I remember one time Ken and I were lifting out of the blue he sez. You know Scotty we have the greatest job ever we get paid alot of money to fuck guys up and not get locked up for it. I said with a smile I know what a great life we have. Like I tell all the interviewers and book writers. Just ask me a question and I’ll answer it. I don’t bullshit if it happened I’ll tell you and it didn’t the same no matter what the question cuz I give 2 fucks about whether anybody thinks I’m wrong or not. I am an APEX PREDATOR. A Lion never loses sleep over the opinions of sheep. And thanks for all your support for the Lion’s Den over the years it’s much appreciated. :spades:


Was there a legit lions den member named Josh Maldonado?


The team was founded in the early 1990s by UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock, and was the most dominant fight camp in the early UFC. It featured fighters such as Frank Shamrock, Guy Mezger, Vernon “Tiger” White, Jerry Bohlander, Tra Telligman, Pete Williams, and Mikey Burnett .


I got started because I got kicked off a ton of leagues playing football cuz I was considered a dirty player. For a couple yrs the NFL had a minor league system. I played for the Oakland Outlaws for the raiders.finally my wife at the time said hey you are making $1,750 a month and thats not even what you used to make a day so find another job.I started working for Bob at his boys home for delinquent kids. Became friends with Ken and saw all his fugiwara Gama tapes and asked him over and over to train me he said he didn’t have the time and he didn’t know how to train me. One day Bob and Ken were at the house when I was getting there for my afternoon shift. I asked Bob if he could move over a lil so I could get in the door. Bob told me I can’t allow you in the house anymore because your fingerprints came back and he had a folder in his hand he said this came with was a FBI jacket. I had a attempted murder on a police officer and was investigated for 4 homicides in Stockton so I couldn’t work for him anymore. I turned to Ken and asked will you train me now he said okay and we started training at the racquetball court,his backyard,wherever til lion’s den opened. Toughest guy? If you mean the most skilled, vicious and ruthless guy Ken by far in the beginning. He hurt you cuz he liked to. If you mean would never tap even when he is clearly getting murdered Paul Varleans,Mark kerr,kimo,tank,Igor were killing him he wouldn’t tap or quit. So pure heart he was top of the heap.


Never even have heard that name.

You still living in Galt?

If you think you have a crazy question just ask .

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Yep,have real long hair and lay low but still get recognized out of the blue which still trips me out, lol.


Can you talk about sparring? Any guys that consistently got the better of others? Did Bohlander get the better of Frank?

Gonna watch the Raider game,but I’ll be back.

Thanks for the Q&A BTW.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!

  • what was your experience with the Dutch fighters in Pancrase: Bas Rutten, Andre van Oetelaar, Toon Stelling and Leon van Dijk? Any stories?

  • according to the tapology website in 1996 you were scheduled to fight Oleg Taktarov. Why was this fight scrapped and what were your chances in your opinion if this fight would have taken place?


Jerry was a young boy so we didn’t spar him 100%. He fought at 100 we would go around 40%. Frank was just there to get the shit kicked outta him on the daily. He was never even a thought much less a threat. Since I am always honest I have to admit Jason was no walk over,he kept your head on a swivel. You made a mistake with him you paid for it. Jeff and Noah were great to spar cuz they never quit. Noah and I still laugh that I would kick him so hard he’d go through the ropes land on the cement and than just get back in and start banging.


We had a great relationship with the Dutch guys. Bas was a blast to party with. I asked to fight Oleg. When he trained with us at the Den he never submitted me or even took me down not once. I liked Oleg but I wanted to be the first to knock him the fuck out. Was gonna wear gloves figured he would be able to stand with me for a few minutes til I turned his lights out. I had broken my hand on Joe in the ultimate ultimate 95 cut my cast off to train for Oleg broke it a gain and couldn’t fight so Oleg fought in Pancrace instead end of story with a really Kool but with a weird poster thrown in,lol.



So many questions, thanks again.

How exactly did you end up at Bob’s in the first place?

What’s the worst beating you ever put on someone, describe please.

Did anyone who got jumped in ever get kicked out of the Lion’s den and if so, why?

Do you see any fighters today that you think could handle a jump in or are they all pussies now?

Were you there when Ken got accused of saying “Petey, my heart” in Japan? If so, did that get back to Ken and tell us about that?

Was everyone on steroids or some enhancers back then?

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Tell us about the infamous tryouts?! What kind of stuff did they do? I heard about the 500 squats!?

Ended up there cuz my wife at the time said your football days are over,we can’t afford to have you play in these nothing leagues for peanuts. Worse beat down? I was a bone breaker and put in work for Crack dealers in Sacramento. Smashed a dude’s face in with brass knuckles and popped both his pinky fingers off. That’s about as far as I can go with stories without truly upsetting someone.


Left before the petey towel thing. And I only ever speak for myself never for another man. I started taking juice when I was 17 and a freshman college football player until I retired from fighting. No tests from the UFC or Pancrase for anything.could have been shooting elephant tranquilizer and if I was winning nobody cared


Guys made it in than got booted. I think Scott Smith, Diego Sanchez, Clay Guida,Melvin Manhoff,Sean Strickland and Gerald Moussai would have fit right in.