First the promotion and the fans had to go through the unfulfilled expectation of Woodley facing No. 1 contender Rafael dos Anjos ... then a fruitless campaign for Woodley vs. Georges St-Pierre ... Woodley battling Dana White ... RDA fighting Colby Covington for an interim belt ... Till plus a few extra pounds vs. Stephen Thompson ... the buildup for a proposed fight between Woodley and interim champ Covington ... and then, finally, Woodley vs. Till set to headline UFC 228, with Kamaru Usman waiting in the wings, just in case.
July 29, 2017: Tyron Woodley successfully defends his welterweight championship for the third time, beating Demian Maia by unanimous decision at UFC 214 in Anaheim, California. He stopped all 24 of the jiu-jitsu master's takedown attempts.
July 29: At the postfight news conference, Dana White blasts Woodley's performance and says the champ's planned defense against former 170-pound king Georges St-Pierre is off. The UFC president says he'll instead resuscitate a proposed matchup between GSP and middleweight champ Michael Bisping -- just days after he'd dismissed the matchup by saying that "ship has sailed." Asked about his previous comment, White says, "That ship f---ing turned around and sailed back."
July 31: Woodley reveals that he tore the labrum in his right shoulder in the opening round against Maia. For fighting through such an injury, he says, he deserves an apology from White. "And if I don't get that, I'm going to start leaking some s--- that people don't want to be out in the wind." (Woodley has yet to receive an apology and has yet to follow through on his threat.)
Sept. 13: Woodley says he is hoping his labrum tear will heal with rest and rehabilitation. "Obviously, if I can avoid going under the knife," he tells SiriusXM, "I obviously want to try to do that."
Nov. 4: St-Pierre defeats Bisping to become middleweight champion.
Nov. 20: Woodley resumes his campaign for the big-money GSP fight, now hoping to add the 185-pound belt. But there is resignation in his voice. "Georges St-Pierre blatantly don't want to fight me," he tells MMA Fighting. "I think it's embarrassing to the sport."
Dec. 7: St-Pierre vacates the middleweight belt, citing ulcerative colitis.
Dec. 22: Woodley undergoes arthroscopic shoulder surgery, and the next day he tells TMZ that he'll be ready to fight "in the first quarter of next year."
March 16, 2018: The UFC announces it will make its debut in Liverpool, England, on May 27, with hometown fighter Darren Till in the main event. Opponent TBA.
March 29: Till gets an opponent, and it's a big step up for the rising welterweight: The UFC announces that he'll fight No. 1 contender Stephen Thompson.
April 3: Though there is no UFC announcement, both former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos and rising welterweight contender Colby Covington say they have been booked to meet for an interim 170-pound belt at UFC 224 on May 12 in Rio de Janeiro. Covington, who has disparaged Brazil on numerous occasions, says the UFC has guaranteed his security. "Only security concern," he tells MMA Fighting, "is gonna be when they lock RDA up and he has to stand across the cage from 170 pounds of raw American steel and sex appeal."
April 3: Asked about the matchup on the promotion's "UFC Tonight" show on FS1, White says, "Did we announce that?" After that brief flustered moment, the promoter adds, "Don't believe everything you read until you hear it from this guy right here."
April 5: Woodley questions the need for an interim belt because he will be ready to fight soon and tells SiriusXM: "We know what the interim title means. That's the 'boo boo belt,' that's not the real deal."
April 6: The UFC announces it has booked RDA vs. 170 pounds of raw American steel and sex appeal at UFC 225 on June 9 in Chicago, not Rio. The promotion makes no mention of security concerns in Brazil.
May 26: Till badly misses weight for the Wonderboy fight, coming in 3.5 pounds over the 171-pound limit for a non-title bout.
May 27: Till wins a close but unanimous decision over Thompson and afterward says, "I missed weight, so I don't feel I deserve a title shot anyway."
May 31: A video surfaces showing a weakened Till during his weight cut, crawling out of a sauna and telling teammates he can't see.
May 31: Covington, on a conference call with reporters to promote his fight with RDA, weighs in on Till's win over Thompson: "Darryl the Dough Boy can't make weight, so he can come get this ass whoopin' any time."
June 9: Covington wins the interim belt via unanimous decision over Rafael dos Anjos in the co-main event of UFC 225 at the United Center in Chicago.
June 10: The next day, Covington takes to Twitter to declare that he's just "made the welterweight division great again!" And he adds: "Next stop for this gold belt, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. ..."
Melted that soy boy and made the welterweight division great again! Next stop for this gold belt, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. with President @realDonaldTrump! #ufc225 #nerdbash2018 #maga pic.twitter.com/QFPK3dMbDr— Colby Covington (@ColbyCovMMA) June 10, 2018
June 11: Woodley reveals that he has spoken to Dan Lambert, owner of American Top Team -- the Florida gym where both Woodley and Covington train -- to say he wants Covington off the team because of his offensiveness. "He's staging and premeditating very controversial, very racial, very socially insensitive statements," Woodley tells MMA Fighting.
July 19: "Accept the fight mate," Darren Till tweets at Woodley, who responds in confusion -- since he believes Covington is next.
July 24: UFC president Dana White confirms to ESPN's Brett Okamoto that Woodley vs. Till has indeed been booked for Sept. 8 in Dallas. Covington, it turns out, could not fight on that night after undergoing nasal surgery. White says Covington will be stripped of the interim belt.
Aug. 1 (11 p.m.): White House social media director Dan Scavino tweets out a photo of Dana White in the Oval Office with Donald Trump, a UFC championship belt sitting on the president's desk.
Aug. 1 (11:01 p.m.): MMA Twitter explodes in disdain for another apparent slight of Covington, who had been making a White House visit part of his "Make MMA Great Again" shtick. There are derisive memes galore all day.
Aug. 2 (1:04 p.m.): The uproar quiets down when Covington posts a picture of himself standing with Trump, the UFC belt now slung over the president's shoulder.
Aug. 22: The manager for Kamaru Usman, 8-0 as a UFC welterweight, says the fighter has been enlisted to prepare to step in if needed if Woodley or Till cannot fight. Usman will submit all medical forms required by the Texas athletic commission and will weigh in on Sept. 7.
Aug. 27: Woodley appears on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show and says there is "zero percent chance" he will fight Usman on short notice at UFC 228.
Sept. 7: Darren Till steps on the scale and ...