The Philippines has long produced some of the finest athletes in combat sports. It’s written in our DNA, and embedded in our blood.
For 27-year old Filipino-American Mark “Mugen” Striegl (14-1), fighting is not just a means to make a living, it is an aspiration to join a short list of elite Filipino combat sports athletes throughout history — like his hero, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao.
“Manny is one fighter that I will always look up to. It’s his humility and his love for his family and God that I admire,” said Striegl. “He’s the people’s champ because he worked his way up to the top and got there through sheer guts and determination.”
Pacquiao, as ONE Championship CEO Victor Cui confirmed last year, purchased an undisclosed number of shares in the company.
When Striegl inked a contract with Asia’s largest Mixed Martial Arts promotion, the expectations were lofty for the Filipino stalwart to say the least.
His skillset was already well-refined and it was evident to anyone who had watched his previous fights that Striegl possessed a unique, one-of-a-kind potential not seen in just any fighter.
He’s had one bout with the promotion so far, at ONE: VALOR OF CHAMPIONS held in early April against highly-regarded American fighter, Casey Suire. Striegl needed just a little under four minutes to defeat Suire, winning by rear-naked choke in the first round.
Striegl owns 14 victories, with a whopping 12 of those victories via submission. To say his forte is rooted in grappling is a massive understatement. Striegl has a wealth of wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experience, facets of his game that make up a well-rounded fighter.
Being the grappling stud that he is however does not mean Striegl is inadequate in the striking department.
“I traveled to Baguio (Philippines) in 2011 in what was supposed to be a short training camp,” said Striegl.
It’s no secret that Baguio City is home to some of the most highly-skilled practitioners of hand-to-hand combat. Pacquiao himself has often chosen Baguio as his go-to training location in preparation for major fights.
“After staying for a month, I fell in love with the city and my ex-girlfriend, who is now my wife. My trip of one month turned into four years and with some close friends, we also started our own gym called Fight Corps MMA,” Striegl added. “My heart is in Baguio.”
Before moving to Singapore, Striegl lived and trained in Baguio for a long period, soaking up all he could about the combat arts, and training with world-class MMA athletes, some of whom compete under the ONE Championship banner today.
With a complete arsenal of strikes and submission techniques in his repertoire, Striegl has quickly become a frontrunner for a world title, an opportunity he hopes would come soon.
“All my focus right now is on my next opponent but my ultimate goal is to win a world championship title for the Philippines in MMA,” said Striegl.
Just like Pacquiao, Striegl isn’t afraid of taking on the best possible opposition. To challenge himself against the best in his division, that’s what Striegl is gunning for.
It won’t be an easy task however. ONE’s current bantamweight champion, Bibiano Fernandes, hasn’t lost a fight in five years, and is as dominant as any. Striegl also has to deal with a long list of names who are equally deserving of a title shot in a very deep division.
Still, the allure of a world title is something Striegl is definitely draw to.
“Bibiano [Fernandes] is a fantastic champion and of course it’s any fighter’s dream to win a world championship,” said Striegl.
”My style of fighting is a unique one. I always come forward and you’ll never see me in a boring fight. Come fight night, you can expect an action-packed fight where you never know what will happen next,” Striegl added.
“Fight sports like boxing are part of the Filipino way of life but MMA is slowly growing into the hearts of Filipinos. I fight for my family and country and to have the support of my countrymen means a lot to me.”
On December 11, at the Mall of Asia Arena (MOA) in Pasay City, Philippines, Striegl will make his much awaited return to the cage in front of thousands of screaming Filipino fight fans at ONE: SPIRIT OF CHAMPIONS in a three-round bantamweight contest.
A win could propel him into a possible shot at the ONE Bantamweight World Championship.
“I always love competing in Manila,” said Striegl. “Filipino fight fans are a passionate bunch and it is an absolute honor to fight for the pride and glory of being Filipino.”