Since the dark ages of MMA, when it was known as "human **** fighting" and barred from PPV, several fighters have stood up to make MMA what it is today. These fighters have done everything from introduce new styles of fighting, to put on epic bouts that caught mainstream attention, to becoming an iconic figure, and role model.
Starting off our list:
# 10. ANDERSON SILVA
Coming to the UFC all the way from Brazil, Anderson Silva took the world by surprise when he annihilated Chris Leben, knocking him out via knee in only 49 seconds. Since then, Silva has gone 10-0 in the UFC and has become Dana White's poster boy. He is believed by many to be the top pound for pound fighter in MMA, and his highlight real finishes has attracted the attention of millions of people. He has been nominated for an ESPY for " Best Fighter " and stared in the movie "Never Surrender".
# 9 Ken Shamrock
Ken Shamrock was one of the original legends of the UFC, being a part of two of the most famous rivalries in the history of MMA. The first was with Royce Gracie, which climaxed in a 36 minute draw in the Superfight at UFC 5. This fight, along with another 33 minute draw against Oleg Taktarov at UFC 7 made the UFC adopt judges at the fights, thus eliminating long, drawn out rounds with no winners. Ken Shamrock was also in a heated rivalry with Tito Ortiz, which began when Tito won the UFC Light Heavyweight belt from Ken and continued onto The Ultimate Fighter 3, when the two coaches almost threw down in the middle of the gym, only to be held back by the other contestants. This set up Ortiz v. Shankrock 3 The Final Chapter. This event was the first real blockbuster event held by the UF. Tickets sold out in two days, and the event had an incredible 5.7 million viewers. Ken Shamrock was important to MMA for fighting in some of the most anticipated, and viewed fights in the history of MMA.
#8 Mark Coleman
Mark " The Hammer " Coleman is responsible for introducing what is known as ground-and-pound to MMA. He perfected the technique and used it to win the UFC 10 and 11 tournaments as well as the Pride 2000 Openweight GrandPrix. He became one of the most wellknown fighters in both the United States of America fighting for the UFC, and in Japan where he fought for Pride. He has appeared in a documentary called "The Smashing Machine, The Life and Times of Mark Kerr", and was one of the first fighters inducted into the UFC Hall Of Fame. He continues to fight competitively at the age of 45, and will be in the main event of UFC 109 against fellow UFC Hall Of Famer Randy Couture. For all Mark Coleman has done for the sport, he claims the #8 spot.
#7 Georges St Pierre
At only 28 years old, Canadian Georges St Pierre is one of the most well known and well respected fighters in MMA. He almost single-handidly put MMA on the map in Canada, and has become the first MMA fighter to be sponsored by major marketing companies like Under Armour and Gatoraide. His incident involving vaseline being unintentionally put on him in his superfight with BJ Penn caused the UFC to a change a rule, allowing only independant "cutmen" to apply vaseline to the face of fighters. He has won the Welterweight belt on two seperate occasions, and has since defended it 3 times. He won the"most outstanding fighter" award by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and has been the Sportsnet Canadian "Athlete of the Year" in both 2008 and 2009, beating out Sidney Crosby for the award twice. At such a young age, he still has many years of exciting fights ahead of him.
#6 Tito Ortiz
The Huntington Beach Bad Boy was one of the first stars of MMA to be recognized by a mainstream audience. He was the biggest PPV draw of 2006, when he fought against Forrest Griffin, Ken Shamrock, and finally for the belt against Chuck Liddell. He defended his UFC Light-Heavyweight belt five time, finally losing it to legend Randy Couture at UFC 44. He is the CEO of MMA equipment and clothing line Punishment Athletics, and has made headlines on countless occasions for his feud with UFC President Dana White, his fights with Chuck Liddell and Ken Shamrock, and even his relationship with Jenna Jameson, with whom he has two children. Tito has written a book called " This is Going to Hurt - The Life of a Mixed Martial Arts Champion" and is signed on to coach for his second time on the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter.