Casey Suire started training martial arts late in life, but proved to be a fast learner. After competing successfully in boxing, BJJ, submission grappling and MMA, the American faces the greatest challenge of his fighting career in Manila on Friday.
Suire (5-0) will be facing the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist the Philippines has ever produced in the co-main event of ONE: Valor of Champions in Mark Striegl. Despite being undefeated, the 38-year-old goes into the contest as an underdog, but he is determined to upset the odds and silence the crowd.
“I had no hesitation in accepting this fight. When you hesitate, you miss opportunities. I want to compete against the best fighters out there, and right now Mark is considered the best bantamweight in Asia, so I did not want this offer to pass me by. I never want to have ‘what ifs.’ That’s not how I want to live. I’d rather try and fail then never try at all.”
Originally from South Louisiana, Suire was sent to Indonesia by an international oil and gas company and began studying martial arts there. He has gone on to forge a reputation as a fierce competitor in numerous disciplines and is undefeated in both professional boxing and pro MMA.
“I have been training BJJ for around five years and currently a blue belt. I have competed in numerous BJJ no-gi tournaments in Indonesia, and have a nice collection of medals from the tournaments,” he told MMAWeekly.com. “I also won a local MMA tournament in 2011 to become the Syena Lightweight Tournament Champion. It was an event that had me face three fighters in two months. It was great, but events like that were too few around here back then. It’s really great to see the MMA growth in Indonesia over the past few years.”
No stranger to the bright lights of Asia’s biggest MMA promotion, Suire has already competed twice inside the ONE Championship cage and won both bouts via first-round stoppage. He knows that things are likely to be a little more difficult against Striegl, but believes there will be opportunities he can exploit.
“Mark is a world class wrestler. His credentials speak for themselves. He is explosive, aggressive and he has good BJJ. The majority of his wins have come from submission. From the little I have seen, his striking is a bit unorthodox, so you never really know what he will do. Could be a superman punch or flying knee coming at you, but those kinds of attacks could leave him open.”
Suire has earned his moment in the spotlight after years of hard training, which have been rewarded with success in the boxing ring, the MMA cage, and on the BJJ mat. He’s yet to lose a professional fight.
“I would never take a fight that I did not believe I couldn’t win. I believe there are many people that think I am a stepping stone for Mark to launch his ONE career on, but I’m no easy out and I’m here to surprise the doubters,” he said. “Mark and I are very similar in styles, and I think this fight can go either way in a hurry. It’s gonna be explosive and I think the fans are going to be in for a treat.”
To prepare for this contest, Suire has relocated from his long-time home of Jakarta to the island of Bali, where he has been working with former Bellator 135-pound challenger Anthony Leone and top ONE Championship flyweight Andrew Leone. The latter has trained with Striegl in the past and has apparently been passing on plenty of tips.
Bali Muay Thai & MMA is emerging as a powerhouse in the region and recently helped Rocky Lee prepare for his UFC debut. Suire said he decided to relocate his camp from Jakarta because he recognized that Striegl was a totally different proposition to his previous opponents.
“When I am in Jakarta, I train daily at Jakarta Muay Thai & MMA, but now taking on an elite level fighter, I have moved my fight camp over to their sister gym, Bali Muay Thai & MMA in Canggu. They have world class wrestling and striking coaches, along with many world class fighters to train and learn from.”
It’s an opportunity that the American has earned with five wins in his MMA career, including two inside the ONE Championship cage. Suire has already proved that he belongs, but Friday will be his moment in the spotlight and he’s determined to leave a lasting impression on the fans at the 20,000-capacity SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“Being co-main event under Santos vs. Askren is not something I take lightly, and I will be looking to make the most of this amazing opportunity fighting in Manila. I heard the fans are awesome and really appreciate the fighters. I know they will be cheering mostly for Mark, but I will do my best to win over some support by giving my best effort and try to take home that warrior’s bonus.”
ONE: Valor of Champions is set for the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on April 24 and the entire event can be purchased for 9.99 USD from http://www.onefc.com/livestream.html.
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