Dave Menne and Jake ShieldsAfter a trying couple of years dealing with illness and the death of his parents, former UFC middleweight champion Dave “The Warrior” Menne was forced to rethink things, and has since come out the better, both personally and professionally having won back-to-back fights.

“I pulled away a little bit from teaching,” said Menne. “I was in Thailand for a while to decompress. I spent some time reflecting and looking at life and where things are going. I began spending some more time on myself.

“I feel like my game is progressing, and getting back in some aspects to where it was. It’s little things; instead of having to hold pads for somebody or you’ve got to do this, you’re spending time on things that you need, want, and should work on. Life is a growing process or a dying process, so I’m in the process of trying to learn for myself right now.”

Menne will get a chance to run his winning streak to three when he travels to Brazil on March 31 to face Murilo Bustamante for Amazon Forrest Combat 2 in Manaus. The fight is a rematch of their 2002 battle where Bustamante took Menne’s UFC middleweight title with a second round TKO.

Menne told MMAWeekly.com that while some things changed in the decade since they last fought, much has remained the same.

“The biggest difference is my vision and my understanding of Murilo’s strengths and possible weaknesses are different than 10 years ago,” said Menne. “The things that aren’t different are I perceive him to be a tough opponent, skilled striker and grappler who trains with some of the better people in the world. He’s been around a long time and he’s always dangerous.”

When asked how big of a motivational factor it is to want to get revenge for his loss to Bustamante in 2002, Menne said, “I can’t say that was initially in my processing. I can’t say it won’t be. Most of my time and energy has been on getting in shape and getting ready.

“When he’s standing across from me and I’m thinking about it, maybe it will be a bigger deal, but I can’t say that I’m dwelling on it. I can’t say that I wouldn’t enjoy it necessarily, but I’m also not going to revel in it.”

At 37-years-old, Menne still feels viable in MMA, and his goals are as they’ve always been.

“Right now I’m just trying to build up momentum, put some good fights together and I guess my goal is put one W after another W, progress in my skills and take hard and harder fighters,” he said.

Still, that doesn’t mean Menne doesn’t occasionally get cranky like an old man telling kids to stay off his lawn when it comes to people saying what he and contemporaries like Bustamante and Maurice Smith can and cannot do at this stage in their lives.

“I think that it’s opened some of the eyes of people that we are still around and can still do it,” he said. “I wish sometimes thought people would just shut up. You’re busy living and training, and people are like, ‘Yeah… but…’

“Continue to say that and I’ll continue doing what I’m doing, because all you’re doing is bugging me.”

E-mail Mick Hammond
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