Why was the Japanese Karate stylist Minoki Ichihara so important? His loss to Royce Gracie at UFC 2 helped demystify the legends that were karate black belts back before MMA became popular.
People thought that a black belt in "karate" was nigh invincible. When you added that he was from Japan, it was a guarantee that Ichihara was tough to kill a man with one focused strike.
Ichihara's crushing defeat at the hands of Gracie helped bury this myth. Even though it was Gracie who got the win, the lesson could not have been learned without Ichihara.
In addition, let Ichihara represent all of the fall guys that Gracie needed to make himself and his art popular.
While Gracie went out and fought, the result was practically predetermined since he knew many of the fighters he faced were in over their heads.
Without fighters like Ichihara to beat, Gracie could have never become so popular and MMA would've never taken off like it had.
Furthermore, Ichihara is significant to the grand scheme of the UFC's legacy in the martial arts world as a whole (i.e. disproving the effectiveness of traditional martial arts).