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Ref Rosenthal facing jail after drug bust

ESPN staff
April 17, 2013
Josh Rosenthal allowed Brock Lesnar time to fight back against Shane Carwin at UFC 116 © UFC

MMA referee Josh Rosenthal faces the prospect of a prison sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute.

According to MMA Junkie, a Rosenthal-owned warehouse containing 1,356 marijuana plants was raided a year ago. The value was estimated at over $6 million.

Rosenthal has been absent from the MMA circuit for a while, previously blaming a staph infection. However, he will appear at a US District Court on May 17.

Rosenthal agreed to a plea deal in January, potentially saving him from the prospect of 10 years in prison as well as a $10 million fine. The government is recommending three years behind bars plus a fine and probation.

The referee has officiated in some of the most high profile bouts in MMA, including the Brock Lesnar v Shane Carwin heavyweight title bout at UFC 116, when he allowed Lesnar to fight back from heavy adversity to submit Carwin in the second round.

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