As the melting snows of spring gave way to the long hazy days of summer, the MMA news cycle went through a gradual but pronounced metamorphosis of its own. When Nick Diaz's ongoing saga with the Nevada State Athletic Commission wrapped itself up in May, we in the MMA community let out a collective sigh of relief at hopefully never again having to make the inane distinction between a test failure for marijuana and one for "marijuana metabolites" and turned our eyes towards the looming rematch between the greatest fighter alive in Anderson Silva and the brashest trash talker to ever put on a pair of five ounce gloves in Chael Sonnen. Little did we know at the time that UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones would soon enter upon the most embattled period of his career and dominate the headlines to an even greater degree than everyone's favorite midnight toker from the 209 did in the early months of the year. Join me bellow as I march through the days and relive the summer that was...
May 5th: Johny Hendricks earns a narrow split decision win over Josh Koscheck at UFC on FOX 3.
May 5th: Nate Diaz/Jim Miller is witnessed by a mere 2.9 million viewers, down 52% from the 6.1 million who tuned into the UFC on FOX 2 main event of Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis on January 28th.
May 5th: Johny Hendricks says he would like to sit out and wait for the victor of an eventual title unification bout between interim welterweight champ Carlos Condit and injured champion Georges St. Pierre.
May 7th: Dana White claims the Las Vegas Culinary Worker's Union - who have lobbied heavily to keep MMA illegal in New York and have attempted to alienate blue chip sponsors from the UFC - stand to make an additional $10.8 million a year if they are successful in their efforts to get the Fertitta owned Station Casinos chain to unionize.
May 7th: The New York Daily News reports that a bill to legalize MMA in New York will not receive a vote by the assembly despite passing the state senate.
May 7th: UFC bantamweight champion and TUF: Live coach Dominick Cruz is forced to pull out of his title fight with opposing coach Urijah Faber at UFC 148. This marks the second main card match UFC 148 has lost since the lineup was finalized on March 21st.
May 10th: Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal signs contracts with both Bellator and the pro wrestling company TNA. The concurrent deals make King Mo the first American fighter of the modern era to attempt to balance a career in MMA with a full time schedule in the squared circle.
May 11th: A Nevada district court judge throws out the Diaz camp's request for an injunction and schedules Diaz's hearing with the NSAC for May 21st.
May 12th: Former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres - who was once cut from the UFC for tweeting a joke about what he called "rape vans" - sends out the following tweet: "They should never say stop, no, and don't. What you should hear is no don't stop."
May 13th: Nick Diaz no-shows his World Jiu-Jitsu Expo main event with Braulio Estima. Ten percent of the proceeds from the $12.95 internet pay per view event were scheduled to go to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, in addition to Diaz's entire purse
May 13th: Braulio Estima offers the following opinion on Nick Diaz, "He has a problem. He has a social issue. This isn't his first time doing this."
May 14th: The Ultimate Fighter season nine winner James Wilks announces his retirement from MMA after being diagnosed with severe spinal stenosis, a condition which puts him at "significantly high risk of paralysis" according to his doctors.
May 15th: Cesar Gracie claims Nick Diaz peaced out on the World Jiu Jitsu Expo main event because he was informed at the last minute there wouldn't be a pre-match weigh in. Gracie also mentions that Diaz donated the amount he would have received for his purse to St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
May 15th: Chan Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier put on the fight of the year in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 3. Despite coming in a huge underdog, Jung emerges the victor in an epic battle after Poirer taps to a D'arce choke early in the fourth round.
May 15th: The most overworked man in MMA takes a rare day off, as Dana White's struggle with an inner ear condition known as Meniere's disease causes him to miss his first UFC event since Zuffa purchased the company in 2001.
May 16th: DREAM and K1 parent company Fighting and Entertainment Group (FEG) declares bankruptcy in a Tokyo court.
May 18th: Urijah Faber is as surprised as the rest of the world when at the end of the 11th episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Live his opponent for the interim UFC bantamweight title match at UFC 148 is revealed as Renan Barao.
May 19th: Jon Jones is arrested on suspicion of DUI after crashing his 2012 Bentley into a tree near his hometown of Ithaca, NY. Police report he smelled of alcohol, had difficulty walking normally, and was slurring his speech when they questioned him. There were two 25 year old female passengers in the car at the time of the accident.
May 19th: USA Today reports that the UFC spent $110,000 in the first quarter of the year lobbying Congress to take tougher measures against online piracy. This figure puts them second among all major sports leagues, behind only the NFL.
May 21st: The NSAC vote unanimously to uphold Nick Diaz's twelve month suspension for a positive test result for marijuana metabolites after his February 4th loss to Carlos Condit. Diaz doesn't present a medical marijuana card at the hearing.
May 22nd: Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney states that the only way Eddie Alvarez will get a shot at the belt he lost to Michael Chandler is to enter the next lightweight tournament.
May 23rd: Jon Jones includes the following statement in an apology for his recent DUI arrest, "It has literally been sickening to have so many people try to kick me while I'm down."
May 25th: Collectively all ten combatants on the heavyweight only main card of UFC 146 weigh in at a staggering 2,485 pounds.
May 26th: Dan Hardy snaps a four fight losing streak dating back to early 2010 by knocking out Duane "Bang" Ludwig in the first round of their undercard battle at UFC 146.
May 26th: Elsewhere on the UFC 146 prelims, Jason "Mayhem" Miller is defeated soundly by opponent C.B.Dollaway in a lackluster three rounder.
May 26th: Cain Velasquez returns from his first round knockout loss at the hands of Junior dos Santos back in November and answers any questions looming over him in characteristically violent fashion when he elbows the bridge of Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva's nose into a bloody gorge en route to a quick first round TKO.
May 26th: UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos secures his place at the top of the mountain for a few more months when he pounds out challenger Frank Mir to earn a second round TKO victory.
May 26th: Former UFC heavyweight champion and all-time pay per view record holder Brock Lesnar attends UFC 146 and meets with Dana White after the show. Speaking to the press before the meeting White coyly states, "He was here. I think that says it all."
May 27th: Dana White cuts Jason "Mayhem" Miller citing "some crazy s***" that took place backstage as the reason for his dismissal.
May 28th: Mayhem Miller announces his retirement on The MMA Hour. He also claims the "crazy s***" White alluded to was nothing more than a dispute over whether or not he could walk to the Octagon wearing a gas mask.
May 29th: Jon Jones pleads guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated stemming from his May 19th arrest.
May 30th: The UFC's ultimate company man takes another one for the team as Rich Franklin is yanked from his UFC 148 bout with Cung Le and thrust into the main event of UFC 147 against Wanderlei Silva. With this move three of the top five bouts initially announced for UFC 148 have now been altered or removed from the card.
May 31st: Three-time UFC title contender Kenny Florian announces his retirement from MMA due to a nagging back injury.
June 1st: UFC officials attempt to book Glover Teixeira against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua when a training injury scratches Thiago Silva from UFC 149, only for Rua to turn the fight down. According to Dana White, "Shogun wants nothing to do with Glover."
June 1st: NSAC head Kieth Kizar reveals that Frank Mir became the fourth fighter to receive a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone replacement therapy in the state of Nevada prior to his UFC 146 loss to Junior dos Santos.
June 1st: Mike Chiesa - whose father passed away during the early weeks of The Ultimate Fighter: Live - gets the feel good victory of the year when he chokes Al Iaquinta unconscious and wins this season's tourney.
June 4th: EA Sports acquires the license to produce UFC video games from the financially beleaguered THQ.
June 4th: Carlos Condit says he is willing to defend his UFC interim welterweight title against Martin Kampann if GSP's recovery from ACL surgery should take longer than expected.
June 4th: Speaking to host Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Rory MacDonald expresses his desire to fight B.J. Penn.
June 5th: The retired B.J. Penn takes to his website and offers a succinct answer to MacDonald, "Rory, I accept your challenge!"
June 6th: Johny Hendricks expresses his dissatisfaction with Carlos Condit mentioning Martin Kampmann as the likeliest candidate to fight for the interim welterweight belt. "I feel like I've done everything I could to get that No. 1 spot, and somebody else is keeping it from me," Bigg Rigg laments. "I'm the No. 1 contender, and if he's going to be fighting anyone, I think it should be me."
June 6th: UFC middleweight Nick Ring helps thwart a gang of ten thugs assaulting a couple outside a Calgary Starbucks.
June 9th: Dana White describes a recent sit-down between UFC officials and the notoriously high maintenance Brock Lesnar at UFC 146 as, "probably the worst meeting we've ever had with Brock Lesnar."
June 10th: In yet another change to UFC 148, the Urijah Faber/Renan Barao co-main event for the interim UFC bantamweight title is moved to UFC 149 to replace the scratched Jose Aldo/Erik Koch bout.
June 12th: B.J. Penn invites Rory MacDonald to join him in undergoing more extensive random drug testing through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) as a supplement to the comparatively easy to outsmart day of competition testing typically employed by state athletic commissions.
June 12th: Rory MacDonald accepts B.J. Penn's invitation to undergo independent third party drug testing through VADA.
June 21st: Fedor Emelianenko officially retires from the sport. The Last Emperor leaves behind a superlative 35-4-1 record, including an epic nine year unbeaten streak from April 6th, 2001 to June 26th 2010. This statistic is even more impressive considering his lone career loss up until 2010 came due to a cut opened up by an illegal strike in a tournament bout with Tsuyoshi Kohsaka.
June 22nd: Clay Guida secures a place for himself in the "Worst Gameplans of All Time Hall of Shame" as the Greg Jackson product spends five rounds frenetically dancing around a bemused Gray Maynard en route to a split decision loss in the main event of UFC on FX 4.
June 24th: UFC 147 doubles as the finale of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil and reportedly does a monster 20 million viewers in that country. The numbers aren't as kind in the US though, where it draws the lowest UFC pay per view buyrate of the modern era with a mere 140,000 buys according to MMAPayout.com Blue Book.
June 24th: Despite a shortened training camp due to last minute card shuffling, Rich Franklin earns a unanimous decision victory over Wanderlei Silva in the main event of UFC 147.
June 25th: During a media conference call promoting UFC 148, Anderson Silva offers the following prediction through interpreter and manager Ed Soares, "I'm going to beat Chael [Sonnen] like he's never been beaten before. The joke is over. There's no more talking. I know he's on the line listening, and the game is over. I'm going to beat his ass out of the UFC. He's never going to want to fight again after I'm done with him."
June 25th: The normally witty Sonnen can only muster up the following reply to Silva's furious tirade, "Tell him I've got two words for him: medium rare." The line is in reference to an interview where Sonnen said he would have Silva's wife make him a steak after he took the middleweight title from around the champion's waist.
June 25th: Alistair Overeem breaks his media silence after his March test failure for elevated levels of testosterone. On UFC: Tonight the 'Reem mentions he has enlisted a service to conduct monthly drug tests on him in order to, as he says, "prove to the world I am a clean fighter."
June 26th: Former UFC fighter and current Strikeforce contender Nate Marquardt revels he quit using TRT earlier in the year and will therefore be all natural going into his upcoming welterweight title bout with Tyron Woodley.
June 26th: UFC website hacker Josh the God - real name Mir Islam - is arrested by the FBI for taking part in an international credit card fraud scheme.
June 26th: Longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan is awarded his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by Eddie Bravo.
June 27th: Cesar Gracie weighs in on Nick Diaz's apparent retirement, "There's retired and there's retired...[Nick] is temporarily retired."
July 5th: Chael Sonnen lets it slip that he has dialed down his trash talk in recent days after receiving a stern admonishment from Renzo Gracie.
July 6th: In an interview with ESPN's Todd Grisham, Dana White admits he believes TRT should be illegal in MMA. "To me the bottom line is you don't need that junk," the UFC president opines. "If you don't abuse stuff younger in your career, you'll never need to use that junk."
July 7th: Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz is inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame at the pre-UFC 148 Fan Expo. Despite a well-documented history of animosity between the two, Dana White says of Ortiz, "The story of...Tito Ortiz is really part of the history that helped build [the UFC into] what it is today."
July 7th: Tito Ortiz loses his retirement fight to Forrest Griffin in a three round decision. In a bizarre post-fight twist, Griffin snatches the microphone from Joe Rogan as he attempts to get Ortiz's thoughts on his career and instead conducts a rambling, self-indulgent interview with the retiring Huntington Beach Badboy.
July 7th: Anderson Silva seemingly makes good on his promise to break Chael Sonnen's face when he lands a picture perfect lunging knee to a downed Sonnen that on first glance appears to hit him in the face. Subsequent replays reveal the knee landed in Sonnen's sternum, but at any event the strike gives Silva the opening he needs to head in for the kill and pound his heated rival out for the 2nd round TKO victory.
July 7th: Anderson Silva invites Chael Sonnen to a barbeque at his home in Brazil.
July 7th: Chael Sonnen is gracious in defeat and humbly concedes, "The better guy wins every time. The better guy won tonight."
July 7th: At the post fight press conference, Anderson Silva states he will not fight Jon Jones.
July 10th: Jon Jones puts a further damper on speculation concerning a superfight with Anderson Silva when he says he has no interest in fighting the middleweight champion. "I respect Anderson Silva so much that I don't want to be the guy to beat him," Jones claims. "I don't want to lose to him either. It's a lose-lose situation for me."
July 11th: Strikeforce women's bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey graces one of the covers of ESPN the Magazine's "Body Issue" and appears nude inside.
July 11th: Undefeated UFC middleweight Chris Weidman goes from prospect to contender after demolishing Mark Munoz in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 4. After the victory he calls out champion Anderson Silva.
July 12th: News breaks that Forrest Griffin became the sixth fighter to be granted a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone use in the state of Nevada prior to his UFC 148 rubber match with Tito Ortiz.
July 14th: A TRT-free Nate Marquardt knocks out Tyron Woodley to become the Strikeforce welterweight champion.
July 15th: B.J. Penn offers to pay for VADA testing out of his own pocket if the non-profit testing agency will agree to hold the results of his and opponent Rory MacDonald's drug tests until after they fight. Penn sites concerns over having the fight cancelled in the event of a test failure as his reason for the stipulation.
July 21st: Renan Barao outclasses Urijah Faber to capture the interim UFC bantamweight title. The loss for Faber marks his fifth consecutive deafest in a title fight since losing his WEC featherweight title to Mike Brown in November of 2008.
July 21st: Following a lackluster UFC 149 card, Dana White says he is "embarrassed" by the performances on the main card despite breaking the gate record for Calgary's Saddledome.
July 26th: B.J. Penn acquiesces to VADA's demand that testing results be reported immediately to the Ontario Athletic Commission and the UFC.
July 27th: Cesar Gracie writes a blog stating that not only will Nick Diaz return to the UFC, when he does so "he will respectfully ask for a fight with Anderson Silva." That's right: a fighter coming off a loss and a suspension for marijuana thought he could walk right back into the promotion and land himself a title fight with one of its biggest stars. What was he smoking? Oh, wait...
July 30th: Dana White confirms that the winner of the upcoming Mauricio "Shogun" Rua versus Brandon Vera main event at UFC on FOX 4 will be next in line for a shot at the light heavyweight title. At the time Vera was 1-2-1 NC in his last four outings in the Octagon.
July 31st: Proving once again the most effective way to change Dana White's mind is to bug him on Twitter, the UFC president responds to outrage on social media over Shogun/Vera being deemed a title eliminator and announces that the winner of the Lyoto Machida/Ryan Bader co-main event will also be eligible for a title shot depending upon who turns in the most impressive performance.
July 31st: Jon Jones pleads guilty to his May 18th DUI charge. He is issued a $1,000 fine and his license is suspended for six-months. Incidentally, the fine amounts to an infinitesimal 1/400th of the disclosed $400,000 payday Jones pocketed for his UFC 145 victory over Rashad Evans. Afterwards Jones sends out a tweet saying he feels, "blessed."
August 2nd: Dana White offers the following thoughts on Nick Diaz fighting Anderson Silva, "Nick Diaz just lost to [Carlos] Condit at 170, so that gives him the opportunity to move up to 185 and fight the pound-for-pound best in the world? In what f****** universe does that make sense?"
August 2nd: Dana White feels B.J. Penn and Rory MacDonald undergoing VADA testing is "stupid" because local athletic commissions should be the ones to handle screening for PEDs.
August 4th: Joe Lauzon takes home not only his tenth but also his eleventh career post-fight bonus when he is awarded Submission of the Night and Fight of the Night for his victory over Jamie Varner at UFC on FOX 4.
August 4th: Lyoto Machida knocks out Ryan Bader in a dominating performance. Later at the post fight press conference Dana White will pronounce Machida next in line for the winner of the upcoming Jon Jones/Dan Henderson light heavyweight title bout at UFC 151.
August 4th: UFC on FOX 4 is witnessed by an average 2.4 million viewers.
August 4th: Rory MacDonald is forced to withdraw from his UFC 152 date with B.J. Penn due to a cut suffered in training. UFC officials will later opt to reschedule the fight for UFC on FOX 5 rather than find another opponent for Penn.
August 9th: UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones signs a landmark international sponsorship with athletic apparel juggernaut Nike.
August 11th: Dana White and recently-cut middleweight Jason "Mayhem" Miller engage in a Twitter war. The heated back and forth exchange reaches its climax when Miller tweets to White, "Kill yourself...we are all begging you."
August 11th: A rematch between UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson and former champ Frankie Edgar proves even less conclusive than their first meeting when Henderson gets the nod in a controversial decision.
August 14th: Mayhem Miller is arrested for suspicion of burglary after Orange County California police investigate an alleged break-in at a Mission Viejo church and discover him inside sitting naked on a couch.
August 14th: Ending weeks of speculation as to what his next move will be after coming up short in a second bid for the middleweight title, Chael Sonenn announces he will be moving up to light heavyweight and facing Forrest Griffin at UFC 155.
August 14th: Chael Sonnen launches his initial salvo in a promotional campaign to drum up interest in a fight between Jon Jones and himself with the following quip, "I could go up to 205 and I could take Jon Jones' belt the same as I could take his candy on Halloween: a little punk kid, I'd snatch it away all I want."
August 15th: Dana White says he believes light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is "in a good place" heading into his UFC 151 bout with challenger Dan Henderson.
August 15th: Jon Jones replies to Chael Sonnen's taunts on Twitter, "Dude, you're not worth my time. Earn a title shot instead of trying to talk your way into one, and I'll be glad to hurt you."
August 18th: Strikeforce women's bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey defends her title for the first time and wins by - what else? - first round armbar in a bout with ex-champ Sarah Kaufman.
August 18th: Miguel Torres announces he has been cut from the UFC. MMAFighting.com's Dave Meltzer will later report in his Wrestling Observer newsletter that Torres' firing was disciplinary in nature leading many to speculate Torres' May 12th tweet was what brought the axe down on him a second time.
August 20th: Jon Jones tells MMAJunkie.com the only way Chael Sonnen will get a shot at his title is by going on a win streak and earning it. "Chael Sonnen will not get a title fight from using his mouth," Jones proclaims."I will make it very clear to everyone that there [are] people who are way more deserving of a shot."
August 20th: News breaks on UFC: Tonight that former UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar will move down to featherweight for his next fight.
August 21st: Dana White shoots down speculation that Chael Sonnen might be one win away from a light heavyweight title shot. "He's a long way away," White reveals. "He's not coming off the [Anderson] Silva fight and just talking his way into a 205 pound world title shot."
August 22nd: Dana White claims Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre both want to face each other in a superfight sometime next year.
August 22nd: Jon Jones keeps it real with the following admission, "I fight to make money, quite frankly."
August 23rd: Dan Henderson pulls out of his upcoming UFC 151 light heavyweight title bout with Jon Jones due to an MCL injury in his knee.
August 23rd: The UFC offer Chael Sonnen as a replacement for the injured Henderson, but Jon Jones shoots the fight down after consulting with his coach Greg Jackson. The Jones camp cite concerns about facing Sonnen with only eight days to prepare.
August 23rd: Dana White announces the cancellation of UFC 151 just nine days before the show, marking he first cancellation of an event in promotional history. A source within Zuffa will later estimate the company's losses for the aborted show at somewhere around $20 million.
August 23rd: The blame game begins for the UFC 151 cancellation. "Lorenzo Fertitta and I are disgusted with Jon Jones and Greg Jackson," exclaims an incensed Dana White. "UFC 151 will be remembered as the event Jon Jones and Greg Jackson murdered."
August 23rd: The UFC announce Jon Jones versus Lyoto Machida for the light heavyweight title at UFC 152.
August 24th: Lyoto Machida turns down the shot at Jones' light heavyweight title at UFC 152, citing insufficient time to prepare.
August 24th: Vitor Belfort steps into the vacant UFC 152 main event slot against Jon Jones.
August 25th: Embattled UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones takes to Twitter and issues the following statement: "[I'm] carrying the cross for my company's decision. If someone has to take the blame, I will accept full responsibility for the way UFC 151 was canceled."
August 26th: Top UFC featherweight Chad Mendes is charged with battery after allegedly punching a man in the face during a July 29th altercation at a Hanford, California bar.
August 30th: Erik Koch is forced to withdraw from his UFC 153 title match with featherweight champion Jose Aldo due to an MCL injury in his knee, the exact same injury that scratched Dan Henderson from UFC 151.
August 30th: Frankie Edgar steps up and takes the vacant UFC 153 main event title fight against Jose Aldo.
Look for part three of this feature and more year in review columns from me over the next few days.
Follow me on Twitter @BorchardtMMA