by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
The undeniable appeal of mixed martial arts and its growing popularity has many outlets trying their hand at the sport, regardless of the current state of the economy.

Latest among those to jump into the MMA foray is leading sports channel ESPN. Parented by the Walt Disney Company, ESPN’s Spanish speaking Deportes outlet will begin airing taped MMA events under the Bellator FC banner in April.

Among the talent the promotion helps hopes will bring attention to its tournament-based format is former Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight titleholder Dave “The Warrior” Menne.

“I think it’s going to be a decent amount of exposure,” said Menne of Bellator. “They’re pushing into a new market and it’s always a great opportunity to be involved with ESPN.

“I can imagine there’d be some possibilities for things to expand, so it’s exciting.”

After bouncing around from promotion to promotion over the last couple years, Menne should spend the foreseeable future with Bellator after the contract he signed with them.

“It’s an exclusive deal to my understanding,” he explained. “They have tournament structure with three possible fights and afterwards I would like to stay as active as possible and keep my juices flowing.”

For his participation in Bellator, Menne will be making the move down from middleweight to 170 pounds, a weight class he has fought at, but has not had any extended time at in nearly eight years.

“I was more along the lines of a small 185-pounder, so it makes sense,” he said of the move down to welterweight.

“I went up to 185 initially after an opportunity that presented itself after (competing in) Kuwait (in 2001) and stuck there for some time. But bodily-wise, it makes more sense probably, height, weight and range to be a 170-pounder.”

Menne had been scheduled to compete on the promotion’s April 10 card at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut against Norman Parais, but it now appears he will be fighting on the April 17 Norman, Okla., show instead.

Either way, he is hoping to get back into the mix and make his mark after a disappointing spurt recently in which he was sidelined due to numerous injuries and health concerns, which have now been cleared up.

“Everything should go well as far as I know,” he stated. “(My health has) taken a step forward. I had a small fight six months ago that went well. It wasn’t an upper level deal, but I was testing my body out, and I feel 100-percent better than I did a year-and-a-half ago.

“I’m anxious to get out there again against well trained opponents and make forward progress. Right now it’s just (about) getting back into the field.”

With Bellator’s weekly output due to begin on April 3, bankable stars will be needed should it continue on and not fall by the wayside as many other upstart promotions have done. Should he truly be back to form, Menne might just be on one of those standout points to bank upon.

“Thanks to my sponsors RenovationSystems.com and RedRockFire.com,” he concluded. “I’m looking forward to the fight coming up. I’m excited, training hard and it’s time to step forward and higher.”