Dave Menne has the distinction of being the inaugural UFC middleweight champion. A pugilist with over 60 mixed-martial-arts fights over the course of his vaunted fight career. Menne’s activity in the sport dates back to before it was even called MMA. Where many utilized the NHB (No Holds Barred) moniker. Dave Menne made his pro-MMA debut in April 1997 and would go on to fight several times in a two day period. His competitive career ended in March 2012 after having encompassed three different decades.
In this part of a brand new chronicles series, Menne talks about becoming the inaugural UFC middleweight champion and receiving offers from PRIDE to jump ship while the reigning UFC titlist.
The esteem of being the inaugural UFC middleweight champion and seeing the title’s lineage develop
“I think I would say it’s probably higher now (the esteem of winning the belt) than actually probably at the time. There was other organizations out there that had reputable titleholders and there was world rankings. Whether how accurate they were or weren’t, there was other fighters that were in other organizations that were thought to be at a higher level than some of the people that were in the UFC. But with UFC taking so much of the minds of the people, to that level, it’s raised itself.”
Negotiations with PRIDE while he was reigning UFC 185 lb king
“I had an offer on the table. I had to make a choice between PRIDE and the UFC actually…We ended up going to the UFC rather than taking the PRIDE contracts. We had other people touch base here and there. Obviously the amount of media coverage and visibility you get with the UFC wasn’t what it was then. Now, the amount of people that get to know you and the money you can make off of having a name in the UFC can be possibly more lucrative than even winning your fights.”
“I can’t recall the details directly about the contract. One of the things was PRIDE was often a no weight class situation. I was a tiny 185 pounder at the time in all reality. So I had fought no weight class tournaments. I had done well fighting some bigger opponents but it just came down partially to that. Am I going to be fighting a 260 lb or 300 lb guy in PRIDE? Or does it make more sense to fight someone around my weight?”