by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Just a few short weeks ago Eliot Marshall was looking for a fight.

Well he found one. Actually he found two. The former UFC light heavyweight is on a mission to get back to the Octagon, and the road starts Friday in Ring of Fire where Marshall takes on fellow former “Ultimate Fighter” competitor Josh Haynes.

Two weeks after Marshall faces Haynes, he’ll fight again in the Bring the Thunder MMA promotion. All of this with one, single, solitary thought in mind…

The UFC or bust.

“The goal is the UFC. Let’s not beat around the bush, that’s where the best fighters fight,” Marshall said in an interview with MMAWeekly.com. “Yeah, there’s this guy that’s here, there’s this guy that’s there, and you’re always going to have this talk like ‘what if (Alistair) Overeem, or Fedor, or whatever. You tell me where the best guys fight? They fight in the UFC.”

Following his loss to Vladdy Matyushenko earlier this year, Marshall was given his walking papers from the UFC. The Colorado based fighter admits that pink slip was one of the toughest things he’s ever had to accept. While he may have had no choice in the matter, he also has made it his personal mission to earn his way back to the big show.

“Sure, Dream would be cool, go to Japan; Strikeforce would be cool; but overall the best fighters, it’s in the UFC,” Marshall commented. “I’ll fight wherever working up to it, whatever it takes. Do you want to play in the CFL or the NFL?”

With a new son and a wife at home, Marshall is looking at the big picture when it comes to his MMA career. He doesn’t want to leave anything on the table, and know that he could have taken a bigger step, or accomplished bigger goals.

Like Crash Davis in the film “Bull Durham” as he looks at a younger, better prospect get called up to the majors while he toils away in the minors, Marshall doesn’t want that regret, and he’s willing to fight, scratch and claw his way back to the top.

It starts at Ring of Fire on Friday, and while former “Ultimate Fighter” finalist, Josh Haynes, will be the man to step in the cage against him, Marshall admits it didn’t really matter who signed on the dotted line to face him. He was a marked man as soon as the pen hit the paper.

“I’m just excited to have a fight,” said Marshall. “I’m excited to show I changed the style a little bit, let’s go see how we do. Let’s see how we do and then use all that frustration, those past four months or however long it’s been, let’s just put it out there.”

Following this fight and the show just two weeks later, if Marshall doesn’t get the call from UFC matchmaker Joe Silva inviting him back, he’ll keep beating people up until he earns a return ticket. From there he plans on working his way all the way to a title shot.

“I’m not a fan of everything Chael Sonnen says, but he hit the nail on the head the other day when he was like look, you’re a goddamned coward if when they ask you who you want to fight next, if my answer is not Shogun, I’m a coward,” Marshall said emphatically. “He’s right. Shogun’s the best in the world. Shogun’s the light heavyweight champion of the world. So that’s who I want to fight. Why not?

“He’s right. If you don’t want to fight the titleholder, you’re a coward.”

After weeks of waiting for an opponent to step up to face him, Marshall says the talking is over; it’s time to fight.

“I can talk the best game in the world if you want me to,” Marshall said. “Let’s see what happens in the cage. I bet you it will be 10 o’clock on Friday night.”