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Former heavyweight champion Josh Barnett returning to UFC

More than a decade after winning the company’s heavyweight title, Josh Barnett is set for his UFC return. The 35-year-old heavyweight has agreed on contract terms for his return. USA Today originally reported the news on Tuesday night. Barnett stormed onto the UFC scene in 2000, winning the title from Randy Couture at the age of 24 at UFC 36 via second-round TKO. However, he was later stripped of the title after testing positive for banned substances. This his only scrape with flunked tests, as a failed 2009 pre-fight steroid test in California led to the cancelation of his bout with Fedor Emelianenko on a planned Affliction card in Anaheim. The Seattle native, who is now based in Fullerton, Calif., earned his position as MMA’s leading maverick after leaving the UFC. Barnett did his own thing and earned big contracts in promotions from PRIDE to Affliction to Dream to Strikeforce. He’s also participated in staged Japanese professional wrestling along the way. Barnett ran his record to 32-6 with a first-round submission win over Nandor Guelmino on the final Strikeforce card on Jan. 12. Since then, Barnett bided his time, before finally deciding to make his UFC return after an 11-year absence. No word yet on potential opponents for Barnett’s debut.

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