With how fast things change in the ever-volatile world of mixed martial arts it can be hard to catch your breath, let alone process everything that's going on.
However, with the benefit of hindsight we often see things clearer than we can in real time. Patterns begin to emerge from what at the time seemed to be disparate stories and occasionally a narrative structure presents itself.
Perhaps most importantly - as anyone familiar with George Santayana's famous quote about the consequences of forgetting history is already well aware - an understanding of the past not only gives us a better grasp on the present, it also provides us with clues as to what the future might look like as well.
With this in mind I sat down early last week and devoted numerous hours to researching the MMAFighting.com and MMAJunkie archives in order to compile an MMA timeline for 2012. Due to the voluminous nature of this project it was necessary to divide it into three parts. Here is part one focusing on the the period between January 1st and April 30th (with one quick blip on the timeline from December 30th, 2011).
December 30th, 2011: Johny Hendricks, fresh off a first round knockout of perennial number two welterweight Jon Fitch, delivers a simple message at the UFC 141 post fight press conference: "I want a title shot."
January 1st, 2012: Thiago Silva's one year suspension for steroid use comes to an end.
January 4th: Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, who twice-failed to make weight at 170 pounds, states that he finds his new home at 185 pounds, "easy" and "a lot of fun."
January 4th: UFC Tonight debuts on FUEL TV and does 39,000 viewers
January 5th: Jacob Volkmann is placed on administrative leave from his job as assistant wrestling coach at White Bear Lake High School for suggesting his arch-nemesis President Barack Obama call him to schedule an obscure medical procedure known as a "glass-ectomy."
January 6th: Former UFC fighter Hermes Franca is sentenced to 42 months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of first degree sexual abuse and one count of unlawful penetration of an underage student at his gym.
January 6th: The Nevada State Athletic Comission suspends Strikeforce women's featherweight champion Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos for one year and fines her $2,500 after she tests positive test for the anabolic steroid Stanozolol.
January 7th: Santos apologizes for her test failure and places the blame on a tainted supplement.
January 11th: Former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez declines a spot in the promotion's season six lightweight tournament in favor of a one off fight with Japanese submission ace Shinya Aoki.
January 14th: The UFC sell out the 15,000 seat Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden in just three hours.
January 14th: Vitor Belfort submits Anthony Johnson by rear naked choke.
January 15th: Anthony Johnson is cut from the UFC.
January 16th: Ultimate Fighter season one competitor and longtime lightweight contender Kenny Florian is named as the color commentator for the UFC's secondary shows on FX and FUEL TV.
January 17th: Zuffa announce that all incoming UFC and Strikeforce talent will now be required to undergo a pre-contract drug screening.
January 17th: NSAC head Kieth Kizer informs the media that former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal has tested positive for the anabolic steroid Drostanolone.
January 18th: King Mo undergoes surgery to repair a torn ACL.
January 18th: Heading into the main event of UFC's inaugural show on FX, Melvin Guillard vows to avoid making the same mistakes that led to him losing via rear naked choke to Joe Lauzon in the first round of their fight at UFC 136.
January 19th: UFC 145 is officially announced for Atlanta's Philips Arena on April 21st despite being originally scheduled for Montreal's Bell Centre on March 24th.
January 20th: Chael Sonnen "guarantees" he will never cross paths with Anderson Silva again.
January 20th: 1.3 million viewers tune into the first ever UFC on FX card.
January 20th: Jorge Rivera KO's opponent Eric Schafer at UFC on FX 1 and subsequently retires from the sport.
January 20th: Melvin Guillard loses via first round rear naked choke to Jim Miller.
January 23rd: The dreaded tainted supplement curse strikes again as King Mo's camp identifies the over the counter testosterone supplement S-Mass Lean Gainer as the culprit responsible for his failed test.
January 23rd: Longtime fighter sponsor The Gun Store is banned from sponsoring athletes competing under the Zuffa umbrella.
January 24th: Dana White says he is trying to gain more control of the production of Strikeforce events from Showtime.
January 26th: After a group of hackers protesting the Stop Online Piracy Act temporarily reroute the UFC website, an incensed Dana White issues the following challenge, "You want to keep hacking our site? Go for it. Watch what happens."
January 26th: Responding to the UFC president's challenge, a hacker who goes by the self-aggrandizing moniker "Josh the God" posts a link to White's alleged social security number, home address, and telephone number.
January 28th: The address released by the hackers turns out to belong to a Las Vegas woman with no connection to White named Julie Breeler.
January 28th: Chael Sonnen gets the nod in a close decision over Michael Bisping at UFC on FOX 2. Afterwards he gives an interview lifted almost word for word from a classic "Supertstar" Billy Graham promo from the seventies but doesn't mention rival Anderson Silva by name.
January 28th: King Mo is contacted by his surgeon and informed he needs to undergo an immediate procedure to take care of an infected micro-fracture in his knee. Over the next twelve days he will undergo at least four more additional procedures to combat a particularly nasty staph infection.
January 30th: Dana White pays a visit to Julie Breeler to apologize for the inconvenience his feud with anti-SOPA hackers has caused her. She greets him with a gun in her hand due to paranoia engendered by a steady stream of harassing calls and visits after her information was erroneously released as White's by hacker "Josh the God."
January 31st: Alistair Overeem is charged with misdemeanor battery for allegedly pie-facing a woman in a Las Vegas casino.
January 31st: Injured UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre claims he wants a fight with Nick Diaz as much as he wanted his first title shot.
January 31st: Jacob Volkmann returns to work at White Bear Lake High School after spending the better part of the month on administrative leave. No word on whether or not President Obama ever contacted him to schedule a glass-ectomy.
February 1st: Leading up to a bout with Carlos Condit for the UFC interim welterweight championship Nick Diaz states, "I'm not out here trying to put on an act like I'm crazy. In my opinion everybody else is crazy."
February 3rd: Troubled Bellator fighter War Machine is forced to withdraw from the company's upcoming welterweight tournament due to an impending jail sentence for what he describes as "some old s***."
February 4th: Greg Jackson product Carlos Condit utilizes a conservative and rather dull gameplan to outpoint Nick Diaz and capture the interim UFC welterweight title in the main event of UFC 143.
February 4th: A frustrated Nick Diaz announces his retirement from the sport of MMA, "He kicked me in the leg with little baby leg kicks the whole fight," Diaz complains, "[If] that's the way [you] win in here, I don't want to play this game no more."
February 4th: Nick Diaz tops the announced payroll for UFC 143, netting $200,000 for his loss to Condit.
February 4th: At the post fight press conference Renan Barao asks for a shot at Dominick Cruz's UFC bantamweight belt.
February 8th: Despite Nick Diaz's apparent retirement, UFC officials begin working towards a Diaz/Condit rematch.
February 9th: Nick Diaz's UFC 143 post-fight drug test comes back positive for marijuana metabolites; his second test failure for the sticky icky.
February 14th: News breaks that 46 year old former Pride slugger Gary Goodridge has been diagnosed with early onset CTE/pugilistic dementia due to all of the blows to the head he has endured over his long career.
February 15th: Following what many felt to be an indecisive conclusion to the three round Ellenberger/Sanchez main event, UFC brass decide that all future main events will be contracted for five rounds whether or not a title is on the line.
February 15th: Dana White tells the press Showtime has granted him more control over the production of Strikeforce events.
February 17th: UFC Octagon Girl Brittney Palmer graces the cover of Playboy.
February 21st: After years of dealing with visa-issues, light heavyweight prospect Glover Teixeira finally inks a deal with the UFC.
February 22nd: The NSAC temporarily suspends Nick Diaz pending a formal hearing for his marijuana test failure.
February 25th: Former Pride star Quinton "Rampage" Jackson marks his long awaited return to the Land or the Rising Son by weighing in five pounds overweight for a light heavyweight battle with Ryan Bader.
February 26th: Mark Hunt - who entered the UFC through the backdoor thanks to a technicality in his old Pride contact - knocks out Cheick Kongo and notches his third straight victory in the Octagon at UFC 144.
February 26th: Rampage Jackson drops a unanimous decision to Ryan Bader.
February 26th: Ben Henderson captures the UFC lightweight title from Frankie Edgar in a razor close main event.
February 26th: King Mo undergoes a seventh procedure to battle the staph infection that has ravaged his knee since his ACL surgery in January.
February 27th: In order to ensure a planned mini-tournament for the inaugural UFC flyweight championship goes off without a hitch, Zuffa announces that the Joseph Benavidez/Yasuhiro Urushitani fight and the battle between Demetrious Johnson/Ian McCall at UFC on FX 2 will both be three round affairs with a sudden victory round in the event of a tie.
February 29th: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson reveals he was on testosterone replacement therapy leading up to his loss to Ryan Bader.
March 3rd: A barn burner between Demetrious Johnson and Ian McCall is initially ruled a victory for Johnson but a calculation error is discovered after the fight that reveals the judges actually scored the bout a draw. An incensed Dana White makes an immediate rematch.
March 3rd: Somewhere in the land down under, a frustrated math teacher beats his head against the wall at the thought his former student Craig Waller has yet to master basic addition despite rising to the position of head of the Australia Department of Sport and Recreation
March 4th: Dana White says he is once again hands off when it comes to Strikeforce. "I'll never make that mistake again," he proclaims to MMAJunkie.com.
March 6th: During a press conference for UFC on FOX 3, Dana White lets this nugget drop, "I do believe there will be a day when [the UFC] probably isn't [on] pay-per-view."
March 7th: Nick Diaz's lawyer sends a letter to the NSAC claiming that since he tested positive for an inactive metabolite of marijuana he must have toked up at least two weeks before the fight, which would mean his adventures in tube ripping took place outside the range of time the NSAC consider to be "in competition."
March 9th: The Ultimate Fighter: Live debuts on FX featuring coaches Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber. It draws 1.3 million viewers.
March 13th: The Wrestling Observer reports Zuffa are planning to pursue legal action against not only pirates who stream pay per view events online, but also those who watch them.
March 14th: The Nevada State Attorney General Office's public information officer calls shenanigans on the Diaz counsel's line of defense. She claims that if Diaz does indeed own a medical marijuana card that means he lied on his pre-fight forms when he claimed he hadn't taken any prescription medicine before the fight.
March 20th: Jason "Mayhem" Miller brags that upcoming opponent C.B. Dollaway, "shouldn't be in there with me."
March 21st: Anderson Silva/Chael Sonnnen II is informally announced for UFC 147 at an 80,000 seat soccer stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Yours truly immediately begins scanning the internet for flights to Rio.
March 25th: The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil debuts on the Brazilian network Globo. The show will go on to be a huge ratings success.
March 27th: Alistair Overeem's misdemeanor battery case comes to an end when a Las Vegas court orders he attend impulse management classes and complete 50 hours of community service.
March 27th: King Mo Lawal, fresh off dealing with the surgical complications from hell, receives a nine month suspension and fines totaling nearly $40,000 for his January steroid failure. Adding insult to injury, NSAC official Pat Lundvall condescendingly asks Lawal if he knows how to read when questioning him.
March 27th: King Mo takes to Twitter and calls Lundvall, "a racist b***."
March 27th: Dana White cuts King Mo from his Strikeforce contract.
April 2nd: Nick Diaz's counsel claims there was no need for him to apply for a therapeutic use exemption before his February bout with Carlos Condit because the Stockton scrapper typically refrains from hitting the nugs at least eight days before a fight.
April 3rd: Former UFC heavyweight champion and all time MMA pay per view king Brock Lesnar returns to the WWE and lays out their biggest star John Cena in a white hot show closing angle on the company's flagship Raw program.
April 4th: Alistair Overeem - he of the conditional license stipulating two random drug tests a year - pees hot fire when the NSAC hits him with a surprise test after a press conference for UFC 141. His testosterone to epitestosterone turns out to be fourteen times higher than that of a normal man.
April 5th: With Alistair Overeem appearing to be out of his UFC 141 main event bout with heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos, fans rally behind Mark Hunt on social media and demand the resurgent Super Samoan get a crack at the belt.
April 6th: The Ultimate Fighter: Live episode five draws a franchise-low 947,000 viewers.
April 9th: The California State Athletic Commission shoot down Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos' appeal to reduce her year long suspension to six months.
April 10th: Nick Diaz agrees to face world champion BJJ ace Braulio Estima at the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo, which will be broadcast via internet pay per view on May 12th.
April 11th: NSAC head Kieth Kizar says that the state's Attorney General's Office is still waiting for a copy of Nick Diaz's medical marijuana card.
April 14th: Dana White proves he doesn't know a good time when he sees one by officially putting the kibosh on the rally for Mark Hunt.
April 14th: Dana White claims it would be logistically impossible for the UFC to implement its own random drug testing but paradoxically then goes on to say, "We are 100 percent more on top of drug testing than any other f****** sport on earth, other than the Olympics."
April 18th: The NSAC refuse to schedule a date for Nick Diaz's appeal until he produces his medical marijuana card.
April 20th: Former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez crushes Shinya Aoki and picks up a first round TKO victory at Bellator 66.
April 21st: Rory MacDonald steamrolls opponent Che Mills en route to a 2nd round TKO stoppage at UFC 145.
April 22nd: Dan Henderson is named the next in line for a shot at Jon Jones' belt.
April 23rd: In a move nobody saw coming, Alistair Overeem gives his alibi for his PED test failure: he was administered an anti-inflamitory medication that unbeknownst to him was laced with testosterone. His doctor? One Hector Melina MD of the Men's Performance Enhancement Clinic. The jokes write themselves on this one.
April 24th: The NSAC unanimously vote to deny Alistair Overeem a fighter's license for the next nine months, rather than the twelve month suspension they typically dish out for PED test failures.
April 24th: The rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen is moved from the yet to materialize UFC 147 in Rio to UFC 148 in Las Vegas on July 7th. Your humble author immediately begins trying to convince his girlfriend to take a trip to Vegas.
April 24th: Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard signs a big money deal with the UFC.
April 26th: Nick Diaz sues the NSAC and claims his due process rights were violated when they refused to hear his case unless he could produce a copy of his medical marijuana card. Incidentally, in a sworn affidavit he writes that he is "immediately" ready to fight if his suspension is lifted.
April 26th: Major sponsor Anheuser-Busch warn the UFC to keep its fighters from making offensive statements. The warning comes thanks to Zuffa's major enemy the Nevada Culinary Worker's Union bringing a number of questionable remarks to A-B's attention that UFC fighters have made over the years.
April 27th: In a conference call promoting UFC on FOX 3, Johny Hendricks once again expresses his desire for a shot at the title.
April 28th: Dana White blasts critics of sagging TUF: Live ratings while at the same time promising changes for the next season.
April 28th: The fledgling all-female Invicta Fighting Championships launches with its first show in Kansas City.
April 29th: The brain trust at WWE script the biggest non-boxing pay per view draw in the world to lose his first match back in the company when John Cena pins Brock Lesnar at the Extreme Rules ppv. Evidently Vince McMahon and crew believe burning money rules as well.
April 30th: TUF: Live ratings hit a new low with a mere 929,000 viewers tuning into episode eight.
Look for part two of this feature and more year in review columns from me over the coming days.
Follow me on Twitter @BorchardtMMA