On a non-intellectual level... It's weird to have sporting favourites among athletes you've never personally met, and it's not entirely beneficial when martial arts become spectator sports. (According to Bertrand Russell, yer ancient Greek intelligentsia - whose MMA-equivalent was of course the pankration, the number-one Olympic discipline - thought that spectators were superior to athletes. Even though Plato was a grappler.) But I'm rooting for Lyoto Machida and Ronda Rousey in the UFC this weekend, even though their opponents seem to be perfectly nice, respectable people (and Rousey's into trash-talking).
Lyoto is of course the poster-boy (poster-36-year-old) for shotokan karate, although every MMA fighter needs to add to their core discipline, whichever art it is. (You want to know what the ultimate martial art is? The really, truly ultimate art? ...It's the one you actually train in.) And he respects the people he fights. He's aiming to take the middleweight world title, having dropped down from light-heavyweight, where he had the belt but didn't hang onto it.
And Dana White, president of the UFC, referred to Ronda Rousey as "the new Chuck Liddell", which has to be the highest compliment he could possibly pay any fighter. (Chuck was DW's friend as well as an amazing champion who showed that striking could beat grappling, so long as your grappling defence was good.) Rousey won silver in the judo world championships, plus Olympic bronze, before moving into MMA. Her mother won gold in the 1984 judo world championships, and Rousey trains with Gene LeBell and his guys. The USA isn't a particularly strong judo nation (perhaps because they still have serious competitive wrestling, which certainly disappeared in Britain with the advent of televised "show" pro wrestling), but these people are the best.
Meanwhile, didn't I say I wasn't going to do any writing for four months? Well, I thought I was telling the truth...