NEW YORK (Nov. 11, 2010) - Former NFL player-turned-Mixed Martial Arts fighter, popular heavyweight Wes Shivers, of Brandon, Miss., returns to the cage to face Goldman Butler, of Tupelo, Miss., in the top undercard fight of a STRIKEFORCE Challengers event in Jackson, Miss., on Friday, Nov. 19, at Jackson Convention Complex LIVE on SHOWTIME® at 11 p.m. ET/PT, (delayed on the West Coast).
"I've been kicking it around for awhile that I wanted to get back in there," said Shivers, a star offensive tackle at Mississippi State who was drafted by the Tennessee Titans where he saw action in three games. He also played for the Atlanta Falcons before being released and walking away from the game.
"I didn't really have any motivation to get back to training. I got the phone call from (local promoter) Dave Ferguson who asked me if I wanted to fight again. I thought it was a great opportunity to be able to fight in front of my home crowd. Not to mention it's a STRIKEFORCE show. I had to take the opportunity."
In the main event on the first STRIKEFORCE event in Mississippi, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro (20-4) will face Justin "The Silverback" Wilcox (9-3) of Cincinnati in a lightweight (155 pounds) match.
The 33-year-old, 6-foot-8 Shivers (7-1), a Rankin County Deputy Sheriff, will take on Goldman (1-3) during the non-televised portion of a card that will include many fighters from Mississippi and Tennessee.
Shivers said it was a lifelong dream to play in the NFL, but he has no regrets over his short-lived NFL career, which ended in 2001.
"Any kid growing up in America wants to play a pro sport and I accomplished that goal," he said. "When I got in there I realized what the whole business was about and it really wasn't my cup of tea. I saw an opportunity to walk away from the game without any regrets and I did it. Looking back, I still don't have any regrets. It's a business. Like any sport, if you take the fun out of it, it's not worth playing anymore.
"I had several opportunities to go other places after I was released. I just decided I could do more with my life than play football."
Shivers started training for MMA as the sport began to get hugely popular in Mississippi and he had his first professional fight at the end of 2005.
"I just loved the competitiveness of it and testing myself on a daily basis," he said.
Before Shivers and Butler tangle, Jacob "Pyscho" Noe (3-1) of Memphis, Tenn., will take on Wesley "Pitbull" Little (2-4) of Columbus, Miss.
Other pro bouts will pit four middleweights (185 pounds) against one another: Jeremiah "Bigg Rigg" Riggs (6-5) of Vicksburg, Miss., meets Jason Sharp (7-2) of Biloxi, Miss., while Jamie Houston of Olive Branch, Miss., takes on Dave Martin of Southhaven, Miss., in both fighter's pro debuts.
Among the scheduled amateur undercard bouts: Anthony Mitchel (4-1), Madison, Miss., vs. Jeffrey Hedgepeth (2-1), Silver Creek, Miss, at a catch weight of 200 pounds; Brian "The Law" Hall (2-1), Memphis, Tenn., vs. Thomas "Die Hard Kid" Vasquez (14-3), Horn Lake., Miss., in a bantamweight (135 pounds) bout; and in welterweight (170 pounds) fights, Joel Cooper (9-2), Jackson, Tenn., vs. Brian Burse (8-1), Corinth, Miss.; and Travis Robertson (8-3), Memphis, Tenn., vs. Ken DuBoise (2-0), Jackson, Miss.
Tickets are on sale at all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Coliseum box office and Be-Bop Record Shops, by phone at 800-745-3000 and online at Ticketmaster.com and STRIKEFORCE.COM.
Doors at Jackson Convention Complex will open at 6:45 p.m. CT. The first non-televised preliminary bout will begin at 7 p.m. The first fight on SHOWTIME will begin at 10 p.m.