Aikido is about transcendence, I tend to agree.
On transcendence - from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/transcendence
1. a state of being or existence above and beyond the limits of material experience
2. the state of excelling or surpassing or going beyond usual limits
How do I go "beyond the limits of material experience" or "beyond usual limits" without first knowing what those limits are? How do I transcend the need for conflict without truly understanding the nature of conflict and how it relates to my own nature?
Imho Ueshiba M. transcended because he understood what he was transcending. He met his demons, faced them, forged his spirit through them and at some point moved beyond them. He deeply studied combat, conflict and fighting to find a way beyond these things. So I wonder where do folks get the impression that by not understanding conflict, by always engaging in an artificially created harmony we will be able to transcend conflict?
The good thing about MMA and the like is that facing yourself is part and parcel of facing your opponent (Budo should also provide this option). Your opponent is your teacher, he shows you your weaknesses via the medium of challenge and you need to find a way to transcend these weaknesses to excel in training. When you transcend your own weaknesses you transcend your opponent through the visible manifestation of winning a bout or submitting him or whatever.
If one does not ever have to deal with adversity one is never challenged to truly look at the self and find ways to transcend. In this light the absence of true conflict in Aikido training is actually a good way to ensure that one never transcends it, since one never really gets the chance to see the true self when it appears to face its own demons.
The negative traits that people exhibit when in the pressure of competition or conflict are precisely what they need to bring out their true selves and find ways to truly transcend conflict.