MMA coming back in Texas with live, but limited audience

When the COVID-19 global pandemic first hit hard, professional combat sports shut down to an extent not seen, ever, in the 20th and 21st centuries. The drop was more severe than WW I, the Great Depression, or WW II. However, professional boxing and mixed martial arts are returning. In the latest step, for the first time since March, Texas has been accepting licensing requests for MMA events, beginning on Friday, October 2.

As is the case virtually everywhere worldwide, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) has new protocols in place to help lessen the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Nolan King for MMA Junkie received a statement from a TDLR public relations representative:

“TDLR will accept applications for combative sports events in the state in preparation for a phased-in reopening with a limited number of events. 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 total of eight events have begun the approval process; the first show is expected to take place on Saturday, October 21, in San Antonio.

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

While the UFC has held events in Florida and Nevada, they have been in an empty arena. As noted above, Texas will consider a live audience, at 50% of the facility capacity. Texas is a major MMA hub, with regional promotions like Fury FC, Texas Clash Bash, Valor FL, and XKO, and national/international promotions like Combate Americas, LFA, and UFC regularly holding events.

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