Twenty-five years ago, combat sports changed forever. Eight individuals from different fighting disciplines met in a tournament at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver to see whose martial art was supreme. Called "The Ultimate Fighting Championship," the event involved a sumo wrestler, a boxer, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner and everyone in between. In the end, the smallest competitor -- Royce Gracie -- proved size did not matter as he dominated the competition with elite grappling skills.
Flash-forward to today, and the UFC is no longer a small organization encouraging "no-holds-barred" fighting. Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta purchased it in 2001 for $2 million and sold it last year for more than $4 billion. Boasting some of the most talented mixed martial artists in the world, the UFC is one of the fastest-growing promotions in sports.
How did it get to this level? ESPN's MMA team -- Brett Okamoto, Ariel Helwani, Gilbert Melendez, Chamatkar Sandhu, Greg Rosenstein, Jeff Wagenheim, Phil Murphy and Eric Tamiso -- voted for who they believed was most responsible for this success over the years.