Age in mixed martial arts is always a factor.
It often plays a role in training, performing inside the cage and maintaining the mental determination to keep doing what you love.
Now whether or not age is a factor for 36-year-old Josh Barnett has yet to be determined, but if his first-round collapse opposite Travis Browne showed us anything, it's that "The Warmaster" has a ways to go before challenging for a heavyweight title.
That leaves him in limbo amongst aging UFC veterans and rising prospects who have tried their best to make one of the shallowest divisions in the promotion look deep.
So, on the heels of his first UFC loss since 2001, here are three fights Barnett should gear up for next.
Winner of Stipe Miocic vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
As arguably the best rising star in the heavyweight division besides the aforementioned Browne, Miocic possesses a lot of momentum heading into his bout with Gonzaga at UFC on Fox 10.
His recent victory over Roy Nelson suggested he's ready to take on the next level of heavyweights, but we're just not sure.
A fight opposite a red-hot Gonzaga would give him the notch on his belt he needs to contend with a guy like Barnett come the summer.
As for Gonzaga, who's riding a two-fight knockout streak and shares Barnett's misery with a first-round loss to Browne back in April, a victory over both Miocic and Barnett would provide similar divisional momentum as when he knocked out Mirko Filipovic so early in his career.
Overeem is big, tough and still one of the most recognized names in the sport.
The problem is that he hasn't won a UFC fight since picking apart the already beaten Brock Lesnar in 2011.
That means he has to get past Frank Mir in February or face a potential roster cut in 2014. And by the way, if Mir wins, don't expect the UFC to make a rematch between him and Barnett. Nobody wants to see that one-sided affair again.
As far as Barnett vs. Overeem, the bout makes perfect sense because Overeem is trying to re-establish himself in a division that's blowing past him.
Now while Barnett isn't quite a gatekeeper at this point in his career, he's a perfect candidate to test Overeem's overall title potential if he happens to get past Mir.
Not to mention the public banter that would ensue once the fighters sign on the dotted line.
After his hellacious battle with a testosterone-fueled Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva earlier this month, Hunt remains one of the biggest heavyweight draws in the world right now.
Fans love him, the UFC loves him, and he never fails to bring it when it counts the most. That's exactly the type of fighter to test Barnett's will after such a crushing defeat to Browne.
Hunt is the perfect person to drag Barnett to hell and back. A fight with him would give The Warmaster insight into his own career.
How much does he have left? Can he still contend with the best of the best?
These are questions that are going to be answered in 2014. And what better opponent than Hunt to provide the answers?
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