Mark Striegl is one of the most exciting prospects in Asia and the 13-1 Filipino bantamweight will begin a new chapter in his career next year when he joins the camp which is widely recognized as being the best in the region.
After several years based in Baguio, the 26 year old will be relocating to Singapore in February to become a full-time member of the Evolve MMA fight team, which he hopes will help him to secure a contract with one of the biggest promotions on the planet.
"I felt that it was time for a change and after a few days at Evolve learning from the Lumpinee champions and BJJ black belts and Olympic wrestlers I realized this was the best place possible for me to be if I want to to reach my full potential as a fighter. As of now I’m still a free agent but I hope my next fight will be in ONE FC or the UFC."
Striegl had spent his entire career competing at 145 and above but recently made his bantamweight debut against New Zealander Kaiwhare Kara-France at the Malaysian Invasion Season 2 Final in Kuala Lumpur, winning by first round rear-naked choke.
It was the 11th submission win of Stregl's career and he plans to remain at 135-pounds for the foreseeable future.
"MIMMA was a great experience and I’d like to thank Jason Lo and Tune Talk for the opportunity. Being away from the cage for a year was no fun and it simply felt great to get back in there and compete and 135 is definitely the best weight class for me, I’m not a huge 145'er by any means so 135 is a good fit and I plan to stay there."
Striegl secured a title shot with Legend FC but it never materialized as he left the now-defunct promotion to pursue other goals. He came up short in a fight for the PXC 145-pound belt last year which remains to this day the sole loss of his MMA career.
Despite having beaten fighters who would go on to win titles like Crisanto Pitpitunge, who was PXC bantamweight champion, and Yusuke Kawanago, who won the 145-pound strap with Legend FC, Striegl has never earned the right to call himself a champion and that's one of the reasons he decided to seek out new pastures.
"Winning a title is huge for any fighter. I want to bring a world title back to the Philippines, it’s something that's important to me and I think that moving to Singapore and joining the number one team in Asia will definitely help me to do it."
His team mates will include UFC bantamweight Leandro Issa, EFC 135-pound contender Irshaad Sayed and ONE FC featherweights Herbert Burns and Bruno Pucci. Striegl says that the prospect of getting to train and spar with some elite level fighters of a similar size was another incentive to make the move to Singapore.
"That was definitely something I thought about and took into consideration. Though you step into the cage alone when you fight, you need a team of strong coaches and fighters behind you."
In the last three years, Striegl has fought four times in Manila and developed a big fan following there. He's also featured in numerous magazines in the Philippines and says he is hoping that he will have the opportunity to fight there again in the future.
"Most definitely. I love fighting in Manila in front of my fellow Filipinos because Filipinos love combat sports like MMA and boxing, it’s in our blood. For me, nothing comes close to the energy and feeling of fighting in Manila."
Striegl won't be fighting anywhere for a month or two as he sets about making the move from Baguio to Singapore, but he should be back in action in early 2015 and "Mugen" will be hoping it's the year he finally makes the transition from top contender to title winner.