The last time "Rumble" stepped inside the Octagon was on Nov. 21, 2009, when he was forced to submit courtesy of Josh Koscheck's rear-naked choke.
And to make matters worse, he was too hurt to jump back in and redeem himself.
"My knee is great now. I had to have my meniscus cleaned up pretty good because it was torn pretty bad from the past three years when I had torn it before. I just never had surgery and it kept getting worse and worse and worse. I'm actually surprised that my knee didn't give out on me during the fight."
Johnson says it feels good to know that he can train without a lingering knee injury.
"I feel I'm more focused now if anything. The knee feels amazing. I haven't had any problems with it at all. It just builds up your confidence even more to know that you don't have anymore injuries on your body that you have to worry about."
After being away from the Octagon for 16 months, Johnson is ready to "Rumble" once again.
Johnson explains how he felt during his time away from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
"It sucked. Every event the UFC shows new talent coming in and being out for a year, I see the organization and the sport keep growing. To actually be out sitting on the sidelines watching everybody get paid and do what they love to do, it sucks."
While his time away from mixed martial arts (MMA) may have "sucked," Johnson did find a light at the end of the tunnel.
"What I learned is live life to the fullest because you never know when something can be taken away from you or when you might have to take a layoff like I did and you don't know if you'll be able to come back or not. Always give it your best every time and live life to the fullest. That's what I learned if anything."
Before their bout at UFC 106, Koscheck claimed that he was punishment for Johnson's failure to make weight against Yoshiyuki Yoshida. "Rumble" is none too pleased with Koscheck's claims.
"Koscheck ain't nobody's punishment. He ain't that great if he thinks he's the type of dude that can beat people up. I don't know where he gets that shit from. He's good, but he ain't that damn good if he thinks he's somebody's punishment. That was a good one. I give you kudos for that one Koscheck."
A concern fight fans have had is whether or not Johnson will be able to make weight. For his own amusement, "Rumble" wants to keep the fans speculating.
"I'm gonna let everyone keep worrying. I like that. [When asked if he was confident he would make weight] I plead the fifth. I'm gonna keep them guessing. I'm gonna make them say ‘Hey is he gonna make it or is he not?' I like that a lot."
Going into his bout with Hardy this Saturday night, Johnson knows "The Outlaw" will put it all on the line.
"He's tough. He has a good left hook, good straight right, solid kicks. His standup doesn't have too many holes in it. I like to bang too so I plan on banging. Somebody's mouthpiece is gonna be flying up. It won't be mine."
MMA fans aren't the only ones who believe the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 24 will be close. Even Johnson says the fight will be tough to call.
"This is a fight I really can't call. I think it's gonna be two tough guys that are going in there to duke it out. This one you just don't know what to expect. This is my first time saying, ‘I don't know,' but something crazy is about to happen to somebody."
Can "Rumble" make a successful UFC return after being away from the Octagon for 16 months? Tune in to UFC Fight Night 24 Saturday March 26 live and free on Spike TV to find out.