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UFC referree Josh Rosenthal set for early release from prison after serving half of three-year sentence

Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

Long-time mixed martial arts (MMA) referee Josh Rosenthal -- who was a fixture under the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) banner -- was sentenced to 37 months behind bars with no possibility for parole in July 2013 by the U.S. District Court in Oakland, California.

Why?

Rosenthal plead guilty to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, as well as possession with intent to distribute after federal agents found him running a weed warehouse in "O-Town" with 1,356 marijuana plants (details).

The estimated street value was ... get ready for it ... a whopping $6 million.

But, after serving 18 months in the joint (pun intended), Rosenthal is blazing out early, as MMA Junkie confirmed that the in-cage official is set for release next month.

According to the report, part of the reason for early release is because Rosenthal participated in the Residential Drug Abuse Program (R.D.A.P), as ordered by a judge, after serving one year in prison. If the program is completed successfully, then early release is granted.

All a part of the federal system's attempt to "lighten up" on non-violent drug and financial crimes.

Rosenthal will serve his last few days in custody in a halfway house in Sacramento, Calif., and will be on three years probation.

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