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Combat sports allowed to return with fans in Texas after seven-month COVID-19 hiatus

For the first time since March, the state of Texas is accepting licensure requests for combat sports events, including mixed martial arts.

In a document obtained by MMA Junkie on Tuesday, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) announced its entry into the early stages of reinstatement as of Friday, Oct. 2. The declaration opens the door for promoters to begin the process of applying to hold events within the Lone Star State.

Like many other governing bodies that have resumed operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, the TDLR has implemented a handful of new protocols to deal with minimizing the pandemic’s spread.

“TDLR will accept applications for combative sports events in the state in preparation for a phased-in reopening with a limited number of events,” a TDLR public relations representative said in a statement. “Events will be able to include spectators, with a cap of 50 percent of the total listed occupancy of the venue.

“Promoters must submit their own operational plan to TDLR and to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The operational plan must detail the promoter’s plans for daily COVID-19 screenings, providing protective equipment and staffing, as well as cleaning and disinfecting the event venue and athlete delegation housing.

“When deciding whether to allow an event to proceed, TDLR will monitor factors including positive test rates and hospitalization rates in the area where the event is scheduled. If there’s a localized spike in cases, the agency may cancel an event any time up to the beginning of the bouts.”

A TDLR rep told MMA Junkie that the commission is already in the process of approving an event for Oct. 31 in San Antonio. Eight events have already been submitted to take place for October, November and December.

“We’ve received several other requests for later dates in other parts of the state and are evaluating the protocols they have submitted,” the rep said. “We will not schedule multiple events on the same night as we did in the past, at least when we first get going again.”

Texas, unlike Nevada, which the UFC has called its lone domestic home since late May, will allow for a live audience to attend MMA events. The audience will be capped at 50 percent of the venue’s listed capacity.

Prior to the pandemic, Texas was frequented by the UFC, LFA and Combate Americas, as well as regional promotions Fury FC, XKO, Texas Clash Bash, Valor FL, and more.

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