Winning your first 12 professional bouts is a guaranteed way for a fighter to attract the interest of the biggest MMA promotions on the planet. In doing just that, Filipino bantamweight Mark Striegl was not short of offers when he became a free agent last year.
Having returned after a year away from the cage to make a successful bantamweight debut, Striegl (13-1) says there were plenty of suitors for his signature.
“I’d been in touch with the UFC for a long time. They are a great organization and there was definitely traction there. It was an honor to have the two biggest promotions in the world interested in me, but the timing was perfect for me to sign with ONE FC because, at the end of the day, Asia’s my home,” he said.
After his quick-fire submission win over Kaiwhare Kara-France at the MIMMA Grand Finals, which took place towards the tail end of 2014, Striegl took time out to get married. But this week, he will be moving to Singapore to become a full-time member of the Evolve MMA fight team and is hoping he won’t have to wait too long to make his ONE FC debut.
“I am definitely hoping to be on the Manila card in April because nothing compares to fighting in Manila in front of my home crowd. ONE FC has been making a huge push in the Philippines and Manila has an unbeatable crowd atmosphere on fight night and it would mean a whole lot to me to fight there for ONE FC.”
Striegl was PXC’s most marketable Filipino star and fought three times in the country’s capital for the Guam based promotion, co-headlining two cards. He was given main event status for his final fight, a submission loss to Jang Yong Kim, which remains his only defeat to date.
He has established himself as one of the country’s most popular fighters, appearing in numerous newspapers and magazines, and believes the fans in Manila have been hoping to see him fight again.
“I’ve always had great support in Manila and after being away for so long, I think my supporters are really anticipating my return.”
Whether he will make that return on the ONE FC: Valor of Champions card, which is set for the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on April 27, remains to be seen, but for future fights, Striegl will no longer be preparing in his long time base of Baguio.
He recently accepted an offer to join the Evolve MMA fight team and hopes this move will be the first step towards claiming a first title.
“I’m always looking for ways to improve, Evolve is one of the best gyms in the world, and since Singapore’s just a short plane ride away from Manila, it made perfect sense. My goal since I started this sport has been to win a world title for the Philippines. I believe that the ONE FC world title is my next stop and training with all the world champions at Evolve is only going to help me to make it happen.”
Another fighter who has used Baguio as a base for international fights is Manny Pacquiao. Last year the boxer became a ONE FC shareholder and, if training commitments allow, he is expected to attend the organization’s next Manila event, which Striegl says he is already excited about.
“I would love to fight in front of Manny. He is one of my heroes and to be able to fight in front of him would simply be awesome.”
Striegl earned a featherweight title shot during a brief stint with the now defunct Legend FC and was scheduled to fight Fransino Tirta for the belt, but due to contractual issues the match-up never materialized.
Both are now plying their trade as bantamweights under the ONE FC banner and Striegl feels he has unfinished business with the undefeated Indonesian.
“Fransino is a great fighter. I was supposed to fight him three years ago for the Legend FC title. It never happened, but I do think we may cross paths in ONE FC.”
Striegl says he doesn’t know how many ONE FC wins he will need to secure a title shot, but believes it will depend upon the quality of his performances as well as the result and he will have a point to prove when he makes his promotional debut.
“The trainers and fighters at Evolve are among the very best in the world and I can’t wait to start training. I think I will be a much better fighter after making the move to Singapore and I hope it will help me to become a ONE FC champion.”
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