Whitehead returns to television in fight

Mike Whitehead is used to the spotlight.

So tonight's live televised mixed martial arts fight in San Jose, Calif., is nothing more than another opportunity to beat someone up.

"I've fought on TV enough times where it's just another day at the office," says Whitehead, who won a state wrestling title in 1999 as a senior at Crater High School.

Whitehead, a 6-foot-1, 255-pound heavyweight with a 26-7 professional record, is facing a relative rookie with a lot of hype in Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal (5-0) in a fight on the main card through Strikeforce. The event is scheduled to begin with the undercard on Showtime at 5 p.m. Pacific.

"He's just a real talented wrestler," Whitehead says of his opponent. "Definitely his weakness is his standup. I've been fighting a lot longer than he has. I'll take it wherever he wants to go.

"He's trying to use me as a stepping stone. He's definitely gonna know he's in a fight."

Whitehead, who estimated he has fought on TV 10 times, is coming off a fight he used as a stepping stone last June.

The 28-year-old defeated Kevin Randleman, a former UFC heavyweight champion, by unanimous decision in arguably his best performance. Whitehead was scored by all three judges as a winner in each of the three rounds.

"That springboarded me up and this time around, (Lawal) definitely has a lot of hype around him," Whitehead says.

Whitehead, who trains and lives in Las Vegas, is returning to Medford to visit his family for the holidays next weekend. His first big break in mixed martial arts came as a featured fighter on the Ultimate Fighter television show.

Reach reporter Shawn Miller at 776-4469, or e-mail smiller@mailtribune.com

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