With his well-chiseled body and sharp facial features, Mark Striegl can stand in as a model for sculptors trying to carve a statue of a Greek god. But the Filipino-American is more than just a complete package of positive physical attributes.
Streigl embodies the bravery and discipline of a well-rounded mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter with a spartan attitude both in training and inside the octagon.
So it comes as no surprise that matchmakers now consider the Baguio City-based submission specialist as one of the brightest prospects in the Asian MMA circuit.
“I’m totally dedicated in what I do,” says Striegl, a Brazilian jiujitsu blue belter fighting out of Elvove MMA. “I train hard and keep myself fit all the time.”
The 28-year-old fighter showed the stuff he’s made of recently with a three-round unanimous decision victory over top Bulgarian prospect Sotir Kichukov. It was Striegl’s 15th MMA career win in 17 fights.
The southpaw who honed his ground skills under the tutelage of Elias Gallegos, the famous jiujitsu master from San Diego, California, showed no trace of rust following nearly a year of hiatus in prizefighting. More than keeping the faith of his MMA fans, Striegl blew away the biggest MMA promotion in Asia, One Championship.
In the decisive duel, Striegl worked the angles on the ground and rendered Kichukov helpless most of the time, giving the three judges an easy time to decide. But for the victor, the fight began months before the Singapore-based promotion booked him and the Bulgarian for their Dec. 2 encounter last year at Mall of Asia Arena.
“I always make sure that I train harder than my opponent and work on a good strategy for fight night,” says Striegl, who can fight comfortably in the featherweight and lightweight divisions.
Apart from preparing his body for the heavy pounding, Streigl watches his diet and eats only the right food. “I don’t rely on anybody to prepare my food,” he says. “I prepare it myself. I make sure that I eat the right food to maintain the right weight.”
One of the few Filipino athlete-endorsers of global sports apparel brand Under Armour, Striegl’s fight and training philosophy has rewarded him with a stunning streak of 12 wins starting from his first fight, 10 of them by submission and eight times in the first round.
Fight pundits say the only blemishes on his record—defeats to Korean Kim Jang-yong (leg scissors choke) in 2013 and Reece McLaren (rear-naked choke) in December 2015 —were swift and accidental, with the Filipino heavily favored to prevail at the get-go.
“Sometimes there are crucial details during the fight that you miss and you pay for it. I learned lessons in those fights,” says Striegl, who made his MMA debut in 2009 in San Diego, where he demolished American Andy Jewett by rear-naked choke in a Total Combat card.
Packing his bags for Asia, the son of a Filipino mother from Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, and a New York salaryman immediately got himself a fight date with PRO Fighting in Taiwan and proceeded to destroy Korean MMA star Kwon Bae-young by unanimous decision. Striegl then built on those back-to-back wins by putting away his next 10 opponents, capped by an armlock submission of PXC lightweight champion Harris Sarmiento in the first round in 2012.
Though feared as a solid ground fighter with his jiujitsu and wrestling backgrounds, Striegl—known by his fighting name “Mugen” (Japanese for “limitless”—strengthens his striking skills with techniques he learned dabbling in taekwondo and muay thai.
Japanese MMA outfit Wajitsu Keishukai has taken him under its wings, convinced that the Filipino is ready for a world title challenge very soon.
“I’ll be ready when the opportunity (title bout) comes,” says Striegl. “It will be a dream come true if and when it happens.”
It sure is just around the corner for the fighter with the remarkable abdominals. Named by Yahoo Sports as one of the hottest prospects in Asian MMA, Streigl is ripe for stardom.
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