This is quite an interesting post, and one that I wanted to sit on before responding. You've said a number of things that I wholeheartedly agree with, and a handful of things that I do not.
Let me first clarify by saying that musically, philosophically, and practically, I am an Individualist. I believe in the army of you; your innate, natural abilities, whether cognitive, artistic, emotional, etc. There is no other like you, and any attempt to recreate the entity that is you, would be an utter failure.
Now. I say all that because I'm reading a tremendous amount of names listed in your post. 16 drummers you've named, if I'm not mistaken. That's a whole lot of talking about people who.... are not you.
And that is not to say that you cannot, or should not have influences. Each drummer you mentioned has given great gifts to the drumming community, and I'm certain that we share a gratitude and respect for their works. We all stand on their shoulders, and there's no way around that.
However, it seems to me that you're seeking to find which of their jackets might best fit you. And the answer to that my friend, is that each one fits like total shit.
The catch is, they all had custom made jackets. Individuals like the 16 that you've mentioned were those who's voices stood out. What they said had meaning, purpose, intent, and a hefty dose of individuality. If it didn't have the latter, you'd call them a phony, and likely exclude them from your list of greats. Whether we realize it or not, we tend to dislike those who do not behave as individuals, and gravitate towards those who are more individualistic.
If there's a single common thread between each musician you named, it's that they were all uniquely individualized in their play style. (Not the hardest point to land, as this applies to literally every one. Lol.) My point being, they were hopelessly themselves. They were not collective lists of those who influenced them. At a certain point in time, they began to speak *as individuals* through their instrument. That very speech; the individualized human expression, is precisely what you love and remember about them.
I really like your MMA analogy, and I do think that it's a valid point here. Some people choose to be the specialist, and focus in on a very specific skill set, which makes them a formidable, hyper-individualized opponent. Others choose to be a jack of all trades, and balance their skill sets, as to become formidable to a wider range of opponents.
MMA and music aren't very different here, in that there is no one correct path to choose. Killers across the board have made varying decisions at these very crossroads, and superstars emerge from the end of each path. Sure, it's a particular a customization of the jacket, but it doesn't seem to matter which way you go. Mere preference, like a color, or a fabric.
For me, this type of thinking lead me down the path of truly just playing what I want to play. I know that sounds oversimplified, but it's truly that simple for me. Now, that doesn't mean I disregard my influences, or pretend that I don't have any. I do play some things because I saw someone else play them, and that influenced me. But this does mean that I actively reject the guard rails, or the metaphorical boxes that musicians often place themselves within. Choosing a genre, for example, is one of the early boxes that drummers can place themselves within; a needless distinction that many of us grow out of with time.
For example, a young MMA fighter may feel that they need to decide whether or not they'll be a Kick Boxer, a Wrester, or a BJJ Master. The reality is, you don't know until you get in the gym. You don't yet have the authority to make such a claim, before the work has been done. Your strengths and weaknesses will emerge *in training* (not before) and as you begin to put in the work, your style takes shape. It will inevitably be a style that you could not have described with any level of accuracy before going through the process itself.
The guy standing in the parking lot of the gym doesn't get to tell you what kind of fighter he is. He does not yet know, and cannot possibly make such a claim. He is style-less, for the time being. However, if he DOES make such a claim, as to know his own style, this comes with the implication that he can simply determine, decide, or even construct his own style before he has truly crafted it.
I don't find this to ever be the case, in reality.
For me, it's as though your musical identity can only form from the trenches. The practice of practicing (pun intended) is where the answer to your question can be found.
Don't get me wrong; there is malleability on the top end of this. You do get to shape your style to some degree, and you do have the ability to follow whichever musical paths you choose; just like the fighter can be inclined, or drawn to a specific style. Much of this malleable portion of your musical identity will be determined by the drummers who influence you, just like the young fighter who looks up to the legends of his sport.
But ultimately, it is my belief that you are UNCOVERING your own style, which is innate. You're discovering something within you, that already exists. Any attempts to determine that style by means of other drummers, metaphorical boxes, genre, or even historical references, will result in a relative failure.
You aren't acquiring your style from others. You aren't building your style from mere components that you gather from the world. You aren't decoding the secrets of the greats, and adopting them as your own. You may speak their language, but your voice will never be theirs.
And the best part is, their voices will never be yours. If they spent their entire careers seeking to mimic you, adopt your mannerisms, or otherwise assume the musical identity of Rod, all 16 of them would fail miserably. How cool is that?
You are you, and that's that. Finding "you", however, is usually on the other side of a bunch of really difficult shit. And it's only when you decide to swim in that difficult shit, that you start to get a decent view of the picture that is your musical identity. This website that you've paid for, is in fact one large pile of difficult shit, under the domain of drumming. I hope that swimming through it will better serve to answer this question of your musical identity; an answer that I anticipate will be painfully, mystically, and beautifully individualized. Any answer that is not those things, is improperly formed, likely unearned, or merely incorrect.
This is the best I've come up with in my measly 3 decades of consciousness. ;)
Please let me know if this has been helpful, and my sincere apologies if this is too abstract. Your post leads me to believe that it will not be taken as such. All the best my friend!