Obstacle courses and tug of war don’t sound scary, especially to someone who’s been fighting professionally for years. The stakes get a little higher when your opponent is more than 8 feet tall and weighs 1,400 pounds.
The Lewiston Sun Journal reports that Auburn native Jesse “The Viking” Erickson took on these challenges and more as a contestant on the Discovery Channel’s new competition show, “Man vs. Bear,” which aired Saturday night.
According to the show’s official site, every episode will feature “five distinct challenges inspired by what bears do naturally in the wild,” from scaling trees to rolling massive logs. At the end of the episode, the top two contestants face off against Bart, the largest of the show’s three bears, for a final challenge. The person with the most points at the end of the challenges wins.
Erickson, 32, began seriously training at Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2008, and is now a mixed martial arts coach at the facility. Although he’s fought in more than 15 professional MMA matches, nothing compares to a grizzly.
“It’s kind of naive to think that there’s something physical that you can do or some way you can train that’s going to prepare you for a grizzly bear,” Erickson told the Sun Journal last week. “All I did was just continue to do my normal kind of day-in-day-out things — keep exercising and stay healthy.
“And maybe I ramped it up a little bit, kind of like I would for a fight camp, make sure that I’m getting two or three workouts in a day,” Erickson said. “Other than that, there’s not really much you can do — it’s a bear, you know?”
Erickson is scheduled to go back to fighting humans at Merrill Auditorium in Portland on Feb. 8. for the Symphony of Destruction event.