Hmm. Interesting, Larry. I do think that MMA contact will improve one's aikido methodology. But what I can't shake is the argument from the MMA types that really, the take-home lesson should be, "Aikido doesn't work; stop doing it!"
As an aside, I'd invite people here to take a look at this thread I just started, on just what sorts of rulesets aikido might work well
I hear you bro. The thing is we have as many people inside Aikido who say pretty much the same thing that the MMA-ers do. In the end imho the only way to really resolve issues in Budo (since they came from Bujutsu and still hold the martial essence) is to at some point meet others and test what you think you know without letting ego get in the way and learn from every instant of the experience. The way I see it folks can talk only so long, after a while someone has to get dropped or pinned to see the light and remove all questions. This is why I like MMA-ers and their ilk, the serious ones are no-nonsense folks and if you have the skills and can execute it on them you have their respect and they don't jibe about Aikido (or at least your Aikido) any more. But they have to be convinced and many in Aikido are either incapable or unwilling to do it. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
My experience however is that Aikido can be scarily effective against quite a lot of what is out there in close quarters engagements if one really understands how it is supposed to work strategically, understands how power generation and distribution works (regardless of fine or gross motor skills) and develop base skillsets that provide a solid foundation for one to develop ones Aiki skills. The foundation for this is found in drills and kihon designed to develop instinctive basic reactions that put one in place to execute waza (tsukuri) and body alignment, coordination, sensitivity and nervous system connection drills that give one the perceptive ability to detect, create and instinctively exploit the openings for waza. This must all be tested with resistance training (have someone not cooperate) and when things fail don't give up but seek to find out why without looking outside of Aikido for the answer. So far it has not failed me while sparring in Judo and Jujutsu while using their rules or when attacked on a dark night.
Just my thoughts. For those who really want to understand it the answers are there in plain sight.