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MMA fighter Michael Whitehead makes no-contest plea in sex assault case

Fighter’s plea does not admit guilt, but he will have to register as sex offender

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Michael Whitehead

A mixed martial arts fighter who was featured in Spike TV's "The Ultimate Fighter" series is expected to be sentenced to probation early next year for an alleged sexual assault on two women that occurred April 10, 2010, in his Las Vegas home.

However, the plea Michael Whitehead negotiated with prosecutors will still mean he will have to register as a sex offender — and will face a lifetime of court supervision.

Whitehead, 30, known as "Iron Mike" Whitehead, pleaded guilty this morning under the Alford court decision to a charge of attempted sexual assault at his arraignment in Clark County District Court.

Whitehead will be sentenced at 9 a.m. Jan. 19, 2012, before Judge Douglas W. Herndon, following a presentencing psycho-sexual evaluation of his case by the court's parole and probation division, according to Arraignment Hearing Master Melissa De La Garza.

Whitehead, who appeared out of custody, was represented by attorney William Terry, who declined to make a comment after the arraignment.

During Whitehead's arraignment, Terry told the judge that Whitehead had negotiated with the district attorney's office to make the Alford plea to the lesser offense. Whitehead had been arrested on charges of sexual assault, attempted sexual assault and open and gross lewdness and also faced possible drug charges involving marijuana found growing in his home.

Terry said that under the negotiated agreement, the state would make no recommendation at the time of sentencing, providing Whitehead is not found to be a high-risk offender. He also said that any of Whitehead's weapons that were confiscated by Metro Police will be forfeited.

"You understand that you're being charged with attempt sexual assault, a category B felony? How do you plead to that charge?" De La Garza asked.

"Alford," Whitehead said.

"Guilty pursuant to the Alford decision?"

"Yes," he said.

"Sir, do you understand that decision allows you to enter into a plea where you're not admitting that you did anything wrong, but you want to accept the negotiation rather than go to trial and face a harsher penalty? Is that what you're doing here today?" the judge asked.

Whitehead told her yes and said no one was forcing him into entering that plea.

The judge told him that because of his plea, the court would have to sentence him to state prison for a term ranging between two and 20 years, along with the requirements to pay an administrative assessment fee.

She also told him that he would not be eligible for probation unless the psycho-sexual evaluation certifies he does not represent a high risk to re-offend.

The judge told him that by his guilty plea he would be subject to lifetime supervision and would be required to register as a sex offender.

De La Garza also told him that sentencing would be up to the court and that the district attorney could not promise him leniency or special treatment.

The alleged incident happened April 10, 2010, when a woman filed a police report that the MMA fighter had assaulted her.

The woman told police she and a friend had gone to Whitehead's home for a barbecue, then after drinking, decided not to drive home, according to a police report.

The report said Whitehead told the women they could sleep in his bed.

One of the women said she awoke to find her pants down and Whitehead having sex with her in the bed. Although she repeatedly demanded that he stop, he didn't for about three minutes, according to the police report.

After the alleged incident, Whitehead sat in a chair in the bedroom, police said. The second woman, who had been next to the woman on the bed, said she witnessed the alleged assault, according to the police report. The second woman alleged that Whitehead had also groped her during the incident, the report said.

When police went to Whitehead’s home with a search warrant, detectives discovered that one of the upstairs bedrooms was being used to house a marijuana grow operation with more than 40 plants, according to a police report. However, no charges were filed concerning the marijuana plants.

After turning himself in on April 14, Whitehead was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on a charge of sexual assault, attempted sexual assault and open and gross lewdness. Whitehead posted $14,000 bail and was released that same day.

Police said after Whitehead surrendered to authorities, police were contacted by the woman, who said she received a text message from Whitehead’s phone that said “Babe I’m really sorry about last night!! I’m very ashamed!” Police said the woman thought it was in reference to the sexual assault incident.

According to, Whitehead’s record is 26 wins and seven losses. The 6-foot-1, 261-pound fighter lists Salt Lake City as his home.

He became more widely known when he was featured in the second season of Spike TV's "The Ultimate Fighter."

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