MMA referee Josh Rosenthal is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in January to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute — all felonies, according to reports.
Rosenthal is one of the most well-known referees in MMA and has been noticeably absent from major UFC events recently. This likely explains why.
According to MMA Junkie, which obtained a copy of Rosenthal’s plea agreement and first reported the news, federal agents raided an Oakland warehouse owned by Rosenthal and an associate last year and found 1,356 marijuana plants. MMA Junkie says the estimated street value of the weed was greater than $6 million.
MMA Fighting also obtained the legal documents and says the bust was one of the biggest pot-seizures ever in the city.
According to MMA Fighting, documents describe the warehouse in this way:
The warehouse was heavily fortified with reinforced steel doors and surveillance cameras, and four handguns, two assault rifles, two sets of body armor and masks and helmets were also recovered at the scene.
Because of the scale of the operation, the case was referred to the DEA.
MMA Fighting reports that Rosenthal did not renew his refereeing licenses in California or Nevada — two of the most popular states for hosting large-scale MMA fights — after 2012, likely because of his legal problems.
Rosenthal was facing 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine, and five years of probation prior to his plea deal. He is due in US District Court on May 17. The government reportedly is recommending 37 months in jail and five years of probation. The sentencing will be determined by the judge hearing the case.
Rosenthal served as the referee for the notable Dan Henderson-Shogun Rua fight at UFC 139, Anderson Silva’s comeback win over Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 in 2010, and Brock Lesnar’s win over Shane Carwin at UFC 116.
And you thought Sam Hurd was the biggest drug kingpin in sports? Looks like Rosenthal had him beat.