Josh Barnett has yet to make his presence felt within the UFC heavyweight division in 2014, but if he gets his wish, that issue will soon be rectified.
According to a report from MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani on UFC Tonight, "The Warmaster" is eyeing a potential contenders fight against former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos as his first challenge of the new year.
"To get a shot at title, you would have to go through Junior sooner or later," Barnett's manager, Leland Lebarre, told Helwani. "So let's get it done now. This is the path back to the title."
Though he may be one of the few remaining active members of the old guard, Barnett (33-7) remains a viable and entertaining contender in a relatively shallow heavyweight division. He is currently listed at No. 5 on the UFC's official rankings.
After 11 years spent competing virtually everywhere but inside the Octagon, Barnett returned to his original stomping grounds in late-August, dropping Frank Mir with a hard knee to the head to add another first-round stoppage to his lengthy résumé more than a decade after he stopped Randy Couture to claim the UFC heavyweight championship.
Barnett most recently fought six months ago at UFC 168, where he suffered a brutal 60-second TKO loss under a hailstorm of elbows from Travis Browne. He has been conspicuously absent since, though his career ledger -- which includes largely successful stops in Pride FC, Affliction and Strikeforce, drug testing failures aside -- still stands as an impressive timeline through the sport's history.