Many people (including myself) became interested in BJJ because of UFC 1. Rorion created the event to let the world know the power of BJJ. I think it worked.
Some highlights from the link above:
"Everybody told me to pick Rickson Gracie," he said. "He would be a huge success, he would obviously beat all of them, but the reason why I picked Royce is because he’s a tiny, skinny guy, and that would prove that jiu-jitsu is a better martial art no matter who you’re fighting. If Rickson goes there and wins, big deal! He’s huge. It would be like a tank running over everybody. The idea was showing that even a small guy could beat a bigger opponent using jiu-jitsu."
I always thought they picked Royce because Rickson would be their trump card if Royce lost...I guess I was half right...I thought this was Helio's reasoning for picking Rickson to fight Zulu although Rolls was the family champion. Why put your best at risk when your second string is guaranteed a victory?
And more to the point:
"At UFC 5, my partners Art Davie and Bob Meyrowitz said we had to change the rules because of TV, so I realized that the TV had changed the philosophy of my tournament. I wanted real fights on TV. My partners wanted a TV show with fights. They were the pockets of the UFC at that time, and I disagreed with them, so I left. I sold my share of the company and left, and I don’t regret it. I wasn’t there to make money. I just wanted to show jiu-jitsu to the world."
And indeed he did...