For the Ultimate Fighting Championships, being on the cutting edge of the sport's growth is not unfamiliar territory. MMA is approaching its 20th birthday as a mainstream sport in 2013, and the UFC has been the tip of the spear from day one.
From the days of literal no-holds-barred bare-knuckle fighting to today's refined and defined mixed martial arts competition, the UFC has set the bar, both with their athletes and their organization.
Considering the strength they have gained through years of peaks and valleys as they navigated their way to the heights they have achieved, it is no surprise to see the UFC continue to lead the charge of MMA.
This Thursday represents a perfect example of their ability to set a tone of quality combined with availability. In the end not everyone can afford to drop half a c-note every month to support this sport. The UFC is finding a way to facilitate their fan's thirst for MMA regardless of their PPV contributions.
UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann will be aired for nothing more than a sports subscription package with many television providers. Not only will the event be shown live and free on VS, but two preliminary matches can be found streaming on Facebook as well.
This card is every bit as quality as many cards that fans have been asked to purchase on pay-per-view, yet it will be shown virtually for free. There was a time when such a gesture by the UFC would have been unheard of.
Today it is just another representation of their commitment to setting a tone that will lead this sport to its fullest potential. Another example is the fact that this free card live on VS will be the first ever UFC event broadcast in 3-D.
The thought of punches and kicks flying out of the TV into a fan's living room gives the event a unique flavor unlike any UFC event ever. The possibilities of MMA in 3-D are limitless, with potential ranging from fighter interviews or training video all the way to Bruce Buffer's introduction and, of course, the combat itself.
The UFC takes its first steps towards achieving all that and more this Thursday, as they showcase this supreme fight card free for their loyal fans. The critics of the organization are many but no one can ever question their intent and ability to force this sport forward in every area imaginable.
Their quest to seek out every platform possible to deliver their product to their consumers has driven MMA to places many doubted it would ever achieve. Now fight fans can find the UFC on Spike TV, Live on VS, Facebook and, of course, live on pay-per-view.
The UFC is utilizing a diverse and dynamic approach to showcasing their wares. As they continue to grow and influence all things MMA, it is extremely compelling to think about where this sport is headed.
Many improvements have yet to be made and polishing MMA to its fullest potential will be a long road, a road that won't be traveled in less than 20 years time. Even still what has been shown thus far, both negative and encouraging, leads an MMA enthusiast to believe the story has really just begun to be written, and it can only get better.
This weekend Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampann will emerge into living rooms for free via the first ever UFC 3-D broadcast. What can fight fans expect after 10 more years of MMA progression?
Time will tell, fight fan, time will tell.
This article originally featured at Hurtsbad.com.