by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
More than once has former Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight titleholder Dave “The Warrior” Menne been counted out of the fight game.

After winning the title in 2001, Menne struggled in his successive UFC appearances, both initially after claiming the belt and during a brief return to the promotion in 2006.

Yet despite his ups and downs, he soldiered on. And after clearing up long-standing health problems, he appears poised to make a big time comeback, starting with his most recent win for ESPN Deportes’ new Bellator FC promotion this past Friday.

“It felt good,” said Menne of his win over Norman Paraisy in the first round of Bellator’s welterweight tournament. “I just got in there, first round, got my bearings back, fought through it and then pushed through the second and third, and finished it.

“There’s not much more to say. I knocked off some rust and kept myself going and took care of business.”

Healthy for the first time in years, he was able to overcome previous issues with stamina and looked solid in his first major outing back at 170 pounds.

“I actually felt stronger going into the third than I did the first,” he explained. “I felt like I had some of my timing back and I think the experience and keeping my frame of mind continually looking for openings (were the keys to victory).

“He was doing a good job at getting in controlling positions, while I was looking for opportunities. I think I eventually wore him out trying to hold onto positions by switching to different things.”

While Bellator has had to shuffle around some of its originally scheduled shows, all indications currently point to Menne’s second round fight taking place as planned.

“The bracket is set up that I’m theoretically supposed to fight Omar De La Cruz on (May) 15 in Chicago,” he said. “I’ll probably try to tweak a few things here and there, and come in bigger, better and stronger.

“I expect the next round to be that much more exciting and fruitful.”

Healthy, lighter and showing the form that once made him a champion, Menne could very well claim another accolade on his road back to the top.

“Thanks to RenovationSystems.com, RedRockFire.com, Full Tilt Poker, Tapout, JesusDidntTap.com, Cowboy Jack’s, World of Tae Kwon Do, and Circle of Discipline Boxing,” he closed out.

“Thanks to all the supporters and the fans who tune in and have been cheering for me.”