'A U.S. Soldier w/ Warrior Spirit' [Interview/Column]

Ken Shamrock’s Lion’s Den Fighter
Devin “The Extreme” Conkling

“A US Soldier With A Warrior Spirit”

Written By: Foreman

The one thing that MMA legend and UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock looks for in a Lion’s Den fighter is heart. If you want to be a den fighter, you better be prepared to dig deep. Most quit before achieving such a title. Devin “The Extreme” Conkling, on the other hand, doesn’t know the meaning of the word. Faced with financial hardships and death early in his life – Devin just keeps pushing forward toward his dreams. At the youthful age of twenty-three, this young fighter’s heart is more extreme than most!

Before earning Den-fighter status, Devin survived a childhood filled with street fights and trouble before serving in the US Army as a forward observer (the lead into enemy territory) in the Afghanistan war. After graduating with honors in basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and receiving his wings from the 1st Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry, he served his country in battle on the frontlines. Devin was allowed to come home in 2006 to Susanville, CA, with the impending possibility he might be called into the war at anytime. Nevertheless, he shook off any fears he might have of a possible deployment and jumped back out into the civilian world. His first job: working at the home of the Shamrock family. As fate would have it “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” – Ken Shamrock and his team of pro MMA fighters recently made their home in Susanville from San Diego, CA. Devin’s second job: Lion’s Den fighter. He past the infamous and brutal tryouts a few weeks later that Ken Shamrock holds annually and was invited as an official Den fighter. During these tryouts Devin endured hours of physical and mental strain only to prove he is unstoppable.

Devin’s most recent fight on April 21, at WinRiver Casino in Redding, CA, showcased Conkling’s extreme fighting style. His opponent, professional boxer Josh “The Hammer” Hammock (8-1-1 record), taller, bigger and more experienced in the ring — rocked Devin with a full-bodied left hook that should have laid him out. Instead, it woke him up. He was unstoppable and the fight ended with a deep rear-naked choke and tap out by Hammock. With a warrior win like that in the cage, it is no wonder the Army vet has come this far in MMA in such a short amount of time.

What would you say is your greatest strength in the ring?

I don’t care — explosive aggression. I can’t compete with most fighters because of my size, so I just go out there and go crazy!

When did you know you wanted to be a fighter?

When I met Bob Shamrock (Ken’s dad). He said I had “intense eyes”. I saw all the fighters coming out of Ken’s house. I spoke with Bob and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

What do you think of Ken Shamrock so far?

I love Ken; he is like my brother, my dad and my role model. I am in debt to Ken for the rest of my life. What he has done for me I will never be able to pay him back.

Gratitude for all he has, loyalty to his country and other soldiers and an unfailing positive attitude are characteristics you can’t help but notice about Devin immediately. Could be from his time spent overseas? An experience I’m sure that turns boys into men.