UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez was preparing for months to make his return to the Octagon at UFC 180 in Mexico.

Then, his knee started bothering him.

After trying to work through the pain for weeks, Velasquez finally relinquished. He removed himself from the main event and underwent surgery to repair his injury. Now, Velasquez will sit and watch with the rest of the MMA world as Fabricio Werdum and Mark Hunt meet Saturday night for the interim title.

“My knee was pretty jacked up the whole training camp,” said Velasquez, during a recent appearance on UFC Tonight. “I felt it was very unstable. My meniscus was torn. It was pretty bad.”

Velasquez fought once before at less-than 100-percent, losing the title to Junior dos Santos on the first FOX card. He vowed to never perform in that condition again.

“I tried everything I could – not wrestling, not doing jiu-jitsu, just boxing,” he said. “If I can’t do that stuff, I can’t be 100 percent. I don’t want to make the same mistake I did when I fought dos Santos.”

While someone else will be wearing heavyweight gold after this weekend, Velasquez isn’t too concerned with the titles of the belts.

“For me, it’s black and white,” he said. “I’m going to get to fight the winner, so all I’m thinking about is getting healthy.”