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Free At Last: Josh Rosenthal to Be Released From Prison After 19-Month Stint [UPDATED]

(Photo via MMANuts.)

By CP Reader Bryan Adelman

Ah, Josh, we missed you.

Veteran MMA referee Josh Rosenthal is set for release this March after spending 19 months in federal prison, according to

As you may recall, Rosenthal was sentenced to 37 months back in July 2013 after federal agents seized, get this, over 1,000 marijuana plants valued at around $6 million, a year earlier at an Oakland, California warehouse owned by Rosenthal.

At last, we can finally explain that seductivehypnotic stare he always seemed to bring with him to the ring. Of course, Rosenthal is best known for his, shall we say, laid-back approach to refereeing.

Case in point, the incredibly late Chris Weidman – Mark Munoz stoppage, where Rosenthal found the time to step in only after Munoz absorbed an additional seven bludgeons than were needed (Yes, I counted them). Evidently, Rosenthal felt it wasn’t appropriate to jump in until Weidman had gone full-Donny Donowitz on the unconscious Munoz.

At the same time, however, he was equally beloved precisely because of that reluctance.

Take the hellacious beating Shane Carwin gave Brock Lesnar back at UFC 116. In the hands of a less competent (READ: merciful) referee, “The Engineer” would’ve been the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion and history would’ve briefly skewed onto an alternate path, until being subsequently corrected by a violent, Cain Velasquez ass-beating.

But, alas, it was not to be. We all know the story by now: Lesnar regrouped and took Carwin’s soul in the second round.

And what about the first Shogun – Henderson fight? Could it have been stopped in the third? Maybe.


I digress.

It’s unclear where Rosenthal goes from here. His referee license expired at the time of his sentencing and it seems unlikely he’ll be allowed to ref any high-profile fights, should he even attempt to get relicensed. Currently, Rosenthal is staying at a Residential Drug Abuse Program halfway house, the completion of which will justify his early release.

In a time where Kim Winslow still has a job, Herb Dean is getting punched in the Octagon, and “Big” John McCarthy is getting his ass kicked at a Costco, for Christ’s sake, the world needs Josh Rosenthal to come and set the world right again.

And before you condemn the man, before you call him a dirty, drug-dealing embarrassment to the sport, consider this: In the span of about seven years, Josh Rosenthal had the opportunity to watch some of the greatest fights first-hand and take part in a six million dollar marijuana empire. What have you been doing with your life?

Glad to have you back, Josh, you big, bald, beautiful bastard.


According to our friends at Questionable Stoppage, Rosenthal has already booked his first refereeing gig for a local event in California, despite the fact that his license in the state lapsed while he was in prison. Details below:

While Rosenthal’s referee licenses have lapse in Nevada and California, he is already scheduled to work the next Global Knockout show at the Jackson Rancheria Casino, GKO 3, on March 21. Global Knockout announced that Rosenthal would be working the show alongside Herb Dean, in a January 30th Facebook post. Rosenthal has worked a number of shows for Global Knockout in the past.

Global Knockout 3 will feature undefeated prospect and TUF vet Nick Kohring battling battle-tested super-veteran fighter Jaime Jara for the GKO Middleweight Title in the Main Event.

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