Mark “Mugen” Striegl does not stress too much about the elements outside of his control. He is only worried about his game and that alone.
The Evolve MMA product will be making his third appearance inside the ONE Championship cage on Friday Night, 2 December, at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION event. The blockbuster event will broadcast live from the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
He was originally supposed to face Rafael Nunes, but the Brazilian prospect was forced from the bout and has been replaced by Bulgarian mixed martial artist Sotir Kichukov. Despite the last minute switch, Striegl — a hometown hero in the Philippines — does not plan on altering his strategy too much.
“Sotir is a well-rounded and scrappy fighter. I do study a little tape on my opponents to look for certain things, but I believe you should not watch too much tape,” the 28-year-old bantamweight explains. “There is a problem with overanalyzing your opponents. At the end of the day, you have to focus on yourself and what you are going to do on fight night.”
“Mugen” plans to make his home country proud, as well as inspire a new generation of fans, just like veterans of the past did for him.
As a young child in Asia, many looked up to celebrities that fought in movies, such as Jackie Chan and Jet Li. But Striegl actually looked up to someone closer to home.
“I have one older brother, named Frank, and when we were growing up he started practicing martial arts. Like younger brothers, I thought he looked really cool, so I copied him and that is basically how I got started,” he recalls.
“At the same time, I grew up in Tokyo, Japan, when Japanese MMA was the pinnacle of mixed martial arts. My childhood heroes quickly became these fighters that I would see on TV, and sometimes even bump into in the city if I was lucky.”
Striegl started off learning aikido, taekwondo, and wrestling. But soon, that passion and desire to learn extended to Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai.
In 2009, he became like his idols from Japanese promotions when he made his professional MMA debut. He rattled off 12 consecutive wins before tasting defeat, a leg-scissor choke submission loss to Jang Yong Kim in 2013. He bounced back, however, with a pair of first round rear-naked choke victories, including his ONE debut against Casey Suire.
Last December, almost a year to the day, he experienced the pain of defeat for the second time in his career when he fell to Reece “Lightning” McLaren at ONE: SPIRIT OF CHAMPIONS.
Ironically, McLaren will be co-headlining ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION when he takes on ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano Fernandes. Although Striegl did not get the win, nor the subsequent championship opportunity, the year-long layoff allowed him time to reflect on his life and his training.
“I learned that, as a fighter, you have to listen to your body and keep everything balanced,” he says. “Yin and yang.”
Striegl, who is half American and half Filipino, will look to bounce back from the loss and re-start his climb up the bantamweight ladder when he meets Kichukov at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION.
In addition to this being his third consecutive fight in the Asian promotion, it is also his third consecutive bout to take place in Manila, which is music to the hero’s ears.
Because of that, he plans to deliver to fans “something they have not seen before.” That includes finishing his Bulgarian nemesis inside the designated three rounds.
“There is no other city that I would rather fight in,” he says. “The energy is nuts. I think Filipino fans are some of the best in the world.
“I do not predict how fights will finish as so much can happen and there are so many variables, but I know that I can stop Kichukov.”
Stopping Kichukov is just the first step to his primary objective, one that will put him in the same company as other heroes like ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera and new ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang.
“My goal is to win a world title for the Philippines,” Striegl states. “That has been the goal since day one.”