Mark Striegl is one of the most exciting 145-pound prospects in all of Asia.
At just 23 years-old, he holds a perfect professional record of 7-0 and has consistently faced high caliber opposition throughout his career. He has the mixed martial arts (MMA) world at his feet and has elected to sign on with DARE Championship in Thailand for its featherweight tournament.
It will be the sixth different country he has fought in so far and Striegl says that this was part of the appeal of DARE.
"I haven’t fought in Thailand yet and thought that DARE would be a great opportunity. The tournament grand prize isn’t bad either ha ha! I'm a big fan of Muay Thai and when I've visited Thailand I've always had a terrific time. I'm happy I get the chance to fight there."
Although he has recently found a long term home in Baguio, the Filipino city where URCC Champions Rey Docyogen, Kevin Belingon, Honorio Banario and Eduard Folayang are based, travel has always been in his blood.
"Since I was young I've loved to travel. I am half Filipino half American, but I grew up in Tokyo and went to college in San Diego. I wrestled in high school and afterwards MMA seemed like the next logical step. After I made my pro MMA debut in San Diego, I decided I wanted to move back to Asia and started looking for fights throughout Asia."
Having trained in places all over Asia including Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Guam and Japan Striegl has finally settled down in one location and believes Baguio is the perfect base for a professional mixed martial artist.
"Baguio is 5000 feet above sea level, tucked away in the mountains. The high elevation makes it difficult to breathe, which in turn is great for your lungs and fight stamina. On top of that, Bagiuo's many mountains and hills make it a great place for running. Just from walking around, you immediately get a sense of how tough it might be to train here."
Striegl has already fought once for the URCC, the most established MMA promotion in the Philippines, and their bantamweight (139 lbs) title has been dormant since 2009. He is very keen to fight on Filipino soil again and would jump at the chance to compete for a URCC belt.
"That is something I most definitely want to do, being half Filipino and living in the Philippines I would be very happy to fight for the URCC’s 139 pound belt."
Bae Young Kwon recently put in an impressive performance at ONE FC 2, submitting the Baguio based Team Lakay member Banario early in the opening round and Striegl would have had more than a passing interest in the outcome of that fight. He handed the Korean the first loss of his career (see below) in only his second professional outing and hopes to get a similar opportunity soon, although he says he is not in a hurry.
"One FC is a great promotion and I like what they’ve done so far, I'd love to fight for them one day and the UFC is certainly in the back of my head. I'm only 23 though so there is no rush and at the moment I just want to fight in the biggest shows I can, wherever they may be, and entertain my fans and friends."
Mark Striegl vs Bae Young Kwon part one. Part two is here.
His first fight with Dare will be at 155 lbs but fighters are given some leeway to move around in weight during the tournament so if he wins he is likely to join the quarter finals of the bantamweight bracket. He will be up against Finland's Marko Huusansaari who has a 3-3 record and is coming off a close decision loss at DARE 1/12.
Striegl is likely to be slightly the smaller of the two men but he has fought at lightweight in the past and thinks he has what it takes to go all the way in the DARE tournament.
"I would say that I am a freestyle fighter and I do whatever it takes to get the job done. I like to put a lot of pressure on my opponents from the start and then break them down, physically and mentally."
He has done that to all seven of his opponents to date, although there was some controversy surrounding his 2011 win over Yusuke Kawanago. A couple of people questioned the decision but Striegl believes it was the correct one.
"Everyone keeps asking about that fight. It’s funny me and Yusuke talk from time to time and talk about a rematch, we both know we have unfinished business. I never told anyone but before that fight I tore my ACL ligament in my knee but still took the fight because it was a good opportunity. In my opinion I won the first two rounds and he won the last. I believe it was my submission attempts, takedowns, and overall pressure that won me the fight."
Striegl likes to switch between camps but one training partner normally travels with him, the 'world's tallest featherweight' (formerly the world's tallest bantamweight!) Will Chope. The American has already booked a spot in the quarter finals of the DARE featherweight tournament and will also be in action at DARE 1/12 on March 17th.
"Will 'The Kill' Chope is my good friend and training partner and him and me are permanently based in Baguio now, we train at various gyms there. I believe it's good to mix things up by going to different places. That way, you surround yourself with new people and different styles, and don't get bogged down by the same routine."
Routine is not a word you would associate with a man who has trained, fought and lived in so many different countries. It is a mixed martial arts educations which, if his record is anything to be judged by, has served him extremely well.
There is $120,000 in prize money on offer to each of the winners of the eight DARE tournaments and Striegl looks the most likely to prevail in the bantamweight section. The cash is unlikely to change his life though, he just wants to carry on training, traveling, fighting and winning.