On this day in 1978, a “Dragon” was born!

Former UFC light heavyweight champion (and recent middleweight title challenger) Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida celebrates his 36th birthday today, and we’re celebrating right along with him.

Why? We’re fans. How can you not be?

If you love MMA you probably love those guys who keep the “martial arts” in “mixed martial arts,” and no one personifies that more than Machida.

He’s not an elite all-purpose athlete who gravitated to MMA in hopes of fame and riches. He’s of another time, rising from a family of martial artists who woke early to practice their kata outdoors — with ambitions of testing themselves to the limit.

In this clip from the UFC’s Why I Fight video series, Machida explains a bit of his background. Enjoy, and raise a cup of green tea to MMA’s samurai:

Check out this visit with Megan Olivi and Anderson Silva, where a much more relaxed Machida plays a game of “Rapid Fire.” Unlike the playful “Spider,” Machida has no time for Dancing With The Stars or paintball:

Finally, a look at Machida’s unique fighting style from UFC’s series “Signature Moves.”

Jack Slack does a great series of breakdowns as well:

Fightland: Lyoto Machida & The Double-Edged Sword of Competition Karate

Fightland: Angles & Feints With Lyoto Machida

Happy birthday to “The Dragon!”