Focus is on Brown, but UFC on Versus 4's Howard ready to settle score with Johnson | MMAjunkie.com

But he simply can't ignore Johnson, who twice before was targeted as a potential opponent before the bouts fell apart.

"I cannot stand that kid," Howard said. "I do not like that kid. He doesn't like me, and I don't like him. It's hard to be in the same room as him. I saw him [Thursday] in the media room, and it was hard not to start something with him because I really don't like the kid.

"I'll say this again: Hopefully we can fight in the UFC, but if it doesn't happen in the UFC, it's going to be a street fight because me and that kid have some issues."

It all started in 2009 when Howard and Johnson were targeted for a fight at The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale. But Howard's management decided that Johnson, who had six UFC fights to Howard's one, was simply too much too soon for a fighter still trying to find his footing on MMA's biggest stage.

But that decision didn't sit well with Johnson, who soon called out Howard in cringe-worthy fashion.

"He called me something that wasn't necessary," Howard said. "He called me a cotton-picker. I took that really personally. That's not something you say to me. Me being African-American ... you don't go that far. It was unnecessary. Because he did that, that's just personal. That's a street fight.

"It's one thing to start beef. It's another thing to escalate it to the next level."

The fighters then were slated for a headlining bout at the first UFC on Versus event in early 2000. Johnson, though, was forced off the card with a knee injury.

It only escalated the rivalry, which has resulted in real-world hostility.

"If we see each other, we have to walk away," he said. "I need someone with me because almost always it results in a fight."

UFC on Versus 4's Joe Lauzon just now "getting into my prime" | MMAjunkie.com

Curt Warburton (7-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) has been tabbed the latest opponent for Lauzon (19-6 MMA, 6-3 UFC). The preliminary-card fight streams live on the Facebook prior to the night's Versus-televised main card.

"I think I am getting into my prime," Lauzon recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (MMAjunkie.com Radio | MMAjunkie.com). "I definitely don't think I've passed it. With every fight and every camp, I've gotten dramatically better.

"I haven't won every single fight, but I definitely feel I'm better with every fight. I don't feel like I'm past my prime or anything like that. I don't see myself as some washed-up, over-the-hill fighter at all. I'm just getting into it."

Lauzon has a lot left to offer, but there is no denying he's at a bit of a crossroads. He's lost two of his past three fights, including his most recent, a submission defeat to George Sotiropoulos at UFC 123 this past November.

UFC on Versus 4's Michael Johnson rested, relaxed, retooled after "TUF 12" grind | MMAjunkie.com

The drain of fighting nearly once a week during the 12th season of "The Ultimate Fighter" and the quick turnaround at the show's finale took its toll on Michael Johnson.

Johnson suffered a decision loss at the hands of Jonathan Brookins at the show's finale, but in many ways, it was a blessing in disguise.

It's allowed Johnson (8-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC) a break from action. He's been off six months, and "The Menace," who meets Edward Faaloloto (2-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) tonight at UFC on Versus 4, has made the most of his time off.

UFC on Versus 4 takes place at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The night's main card airs on Versus, and Johnson vs. Faaloloto is part of a preliminary card that streams for free on Facebook.

"I fought four times in six weeks and had to cut weight," Johnson told MMAjunkie.com Radio (MMAjunkie.com Radio | MMAjunkie.com). "A lot of people say, 'I would love to do that.' No you wouldn't love to do that. It's definitely hard on your body, and even after we get done with the show and get to the finale, you got a good three months, and I'm right back in a very tough fight as you guys saw.

"I definitely had time to freshen up my body and I feel like a completely different fighter and extremely fresh."