Everyone knows the role the Gracie family played in creating modern mixed martial arts. Royce Gracie, the first UFC champion, isn't just an important figure in MMA. Gracie is, without reservation, one of the most important martial artists of the twentieth century.
The UFC, however, wasn't created by Gracie's brother Rorion alone. Although he came to America to spread his family's art, it took many creative individuals to turn his dream into a reality.
MMA became a worldwide phenomenon, and though the Gracies were without a doubt the most important early pioneers, they weren't the only men responsible for building a new sport from nothing. Here are 10 other pivotal players in the early growth of MMA.