Texas MMA judge Seth Fuller uploaded a video directed at Joe Rogan, Jon Anik and Daniel Cormier in response to their comments about his judging at UFC 277. The video, which is nearly 30-minutes long, is an extremely rare example of an MMA judge publicly discussing fights they have adjudicated.
What spurred this action from Fuller is the UFC broadcast team’s criticism revolving around the scorecards for Hamdy Abdelwahab vs. Don’Tale Mayes. Abdelwahab won the fight by split decision with two judges scoring 29-28 for the Egyptian and Fuller scoring 29-28 for Mayes.
When Rogan heard a judge had given the fight to Mayes, he said (on air) “that guy needs a talking to... we need to check to see what he’s been on.”
According to Fuller, those words from Rogan lead to an immediate backlash including a test from an anonymous number asking “did you even watch the fight f***tard?” Fuller said the comments have also damaged his standing with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation; the organization that oversees combat sports in the state of Texas.
“Joe Rogan you’re still my hero,” said Fuller in his video (ht MMA Fighting). “But I have to face that [criticism], and everybody I know has to face that, and this is the important part, the commission has to hear that. Now the commission goes, hey, this is why we shouldn’t have put this guy on the main UFC. ... And that’s to me, a bunch of BS, because if I’m doing it wrong, then cite me for doing it wrong. But if you’re pretending that I’m not experienced, or I was careless, or I didn’t think, and do my absolute best, and I don’t care about these fighters and care that the result is the correct result according to the rules that they agreed to, you’re just plain wrong.”
Fuller added that he hoped his video won’t cost him his “future judging career.”
“Maybe it’s just my ego causing me to do this whole thing,” he continued. “It’s probably a bad idea. I probably can’t win here. But I think it will bring education. It could bring understanding.”
Fuller also offered a full breakdown of why he scored the fight for Mayes. In his opinion the fighters were even heading into the final moments of the third round. According to Fuller a late flurry by Mayes earned him the third round and thus the fight.
“If I had it in my head as even, then I would go to control, and there’s no doubt in my brain, Abdelwahab would win,” he added. “However, that’s not what I’ve been told, that’s not what I’ve been trained, and that’s not what the unified MMA rules state, and therefore not the rules that these two men agreed to, and it would be unfair to do anything else.
“Two other judges obviously disagree, and I have no problem with that. But I just wanted to show you, I’m not an idiot, I’m not bad at scoring, I don’t not know what I’m looking at. I do know what I’m looking at, and in fact, I would say I know the rules that I just said to you better than the announcers, because the announcers just went through the course that I went through 12 years ago, and their scores were all over the place.”
Fuller, who claimed to be a Brazilian jiu jitsu black-belt with 10 years of refereeing and judging experience, added that comments from Rogan and a recent article about the standards of judging and officiating in Texas, resulted in him not getting to oversee a fight on the main card at UFC 277.
“I wasn’t trusted to do the main card of the UFC despite my lengthy experience and dedication to this sport. And that’s OK. I’m not mad at all. ... This sort of thing, these sort of articles, gets to the commission and it goes toward my reputation and it goes toward whether they are going to use me again in the future. But the reputation is a huge one. This is my first time in the UFC, and now I have a reputation of being a bad judge. Millions of people heard those comments. So this is why I’m responding.”
The TDLR have since released a statement to MMA Fighting about Fuller’s comment.
“TDLR asks all judges to refrain from commenting publicly on scoring, and they are instructed to refer all questions to our public information officer, Tela Mange,” read part of that statement. “All judges are made aware of this policy and we expect them to act accordingly.”
This isn’t the first time judges and referees have been criticized for their work on a UFC card in Texas. In 2020 the TDLR responded to Rogan directly after the UFC commentator accused a judge at looking down at the floor or his phone just before a controversial score was given after a fight between Lauren Murphy and Andrea Lee.
The TDLR claimed that judge was looking down at a monitor below the floor level of the Octagon.
In 2021 UFC fighter Steven Peterson vowed never to fight in his home state of Texas after calling the commission “f***ed”.
“I have nine losses in my career, five of which I would highly contest, sit with you, watch the tape and argue with you how I won the fight. Those decisions were all lost in Texas,” he said.