At the MIMMA Grand Finals on October 25, 2014, Filipino-American featherweight standout Mark “Mugen” Striegl makes his long-awaited comeback fight against Kai Kara-France.
With his charm, charisma and imposing style of fighting, the 26-year-old Striegl is undeniably one of the most well-known fighters in the Philippines. He’s faced and finished guys like Kwon Bae-Yong, Crisanto Pitpitunge, Ev Ting, and Harris Sarmiento while fighting all across Asia in places like Macau, Taiwan, Thailand, and the Philippines.
As a journeyman, Striegl wasn’t tied down to one organization for very long, and thus expanded his fan base all across the region. While he never fought professionally in Japan, he is know there as well, because he grew up in Tokyo and first landed his MMA training at the prestigious Wayjutsu Keishukai GODS dojo under the legendary Yuji Hoshino.
Striegl’s first title opportunity came in the PXC, which he earned after finishes of Robert Wusstig and Sarmiento. He was then undefeated across 12 fights, and looked at to be the PXC’s next UFC entrant.
In September of 2013, he and Korean Top Team’s Jang Yong Kim fought for the vacant PXC 145 pound title. It was a violent affair that forced the Striegl out of his comfort zone and saw him for the first time looking winded into the second. As the fight played into the third round, Kim kept coming on strong through Striegl’s takedowns, and rocked him. Then, forced to tap, Striegl tasted his first-ever career defeat at the hands of the massive South Korean.
Since then, Striegl has been unseen in the cage or ring. But he has been seen in magazines and commercials. Striegl’s strong work ethic and commitment to fitness have allowed him to capitalize on his good looks during his forced off season. And since he’s recuperated, he’s gone back to training to improve any flaws which Kim might have exposed that night.
Striegl is set to face one of New Zealand’s top bantamweight prospects in “Kai” Kara-France at the MIMMA 2 Grand Finals in Malaysia as the co-main feature of one of the most anticipated MMA events in the region today. Striegl versus Kara-France is one of four professional bouts on top of the card which is Malaysia’s national amateur MMA tournament challenge between the champs from Season 1 against the new finalists from Season 2.
The event will be held at the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, and will be live streamed for free in its entirety on www.mimmalive.tunetalk.com. B
Ahead of Striegl’s return to the cage, ASIA MMA spoke with him about his layoff, his training, and his comeback.
Asia MMA: It’s been a year since you fought inside the cage. What took you so long to make your return?
Striegl: I had an injury during a bit of that time and a few fights just didn’t end up happening, unfortunately.
Asia MMA: You’ll be on the MIMMA 2 Finale card against Kara France, which worked with One FC in their first outing. Does this mean you are officially signed with One FC?
Striegl: No, I’ve agreed to a match in MIMMA.
Asia MMA: What are your thoughts about Kara-France?
Striegl: Kai is a good fighter – he’s strong and explosive. I believe this will make for an action-packed fight since we have similar styles.
Asia MMA: What made you decide to go back to bantamweight?
Striegl: My plan though was to always go down to bantamweight. Considering my regular walk around weight, bantamweight makes the most sense.
Asia MMA: What have been your preparations for this fight?
Striegl: For this fight, I’ve trained at Borneo Tribal Squad (BTS) with AJ “Pyro” Lias. AJ’s the ONE FC Malaysian Featherweight Champion and he’s also a terrific strength and conditioning and nutrition coach. Ann Osman fought and won her fight just one week before me on the ONE FC Roar of Tigers card. With both of us fighting back to back in KL, the timing has been great.
Asia MMA: How difficult was it for you personally to be sidelined for a year?
Striegl: It wasn’t fun. (Laughs) Being injured sucks and some of the opportunities falling through was unfortunate. But I’m glad to be getting back in the cage now.
Asia MMA: How is your condition now?
Striegl: I feel great! It’s been a long time coming and I can’t wait to step in there and compete again.
Asia MMA: Which part of your game have you’ve focused on improving the most while you’ve been outside of competition?
Striegl: I’ve been working on my striking and really my overall MMA game.
Asia MMA: And you’ve been modeling.
Striegl: It’s somewhat of a contrast to MMA (Laughs), but I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some fantastic companies and the experiences have been great.
Asia MMA: Even though you’ve been out for a year, you still managed to keep yourself busy cross-training in Japan, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Have you ever been out of shape in your life?
Striegl: I try my best to stay in good shape all year round. You never know when you might get the offer for a fight so I prefer staying ready at all times. I also don’t like the feeling of being out of shape. I can go for maybe one week at the most before I get the itch to return to the gym.
Asia MMA: What do you think is your biggest advantage against Kara France?
Striegl: I think my experience and size will be the determining factors in this fight.
Asia MMA: What’s your prediction for this fight? Are we going to see the old Striegl who loves to make people tap?
Striegl: I think you’ll see a good mix of everything. This is MMA after all so I’ll be coming in with my full arsenal.
Asia MMA: Any shout outs?
Striegl: I’d like to thank all my fans for their support and my sponsors – Sportshouse, Ecko, Beer Below Zero, Guitar Underwear, Vibram, Gold’s Gym, and Bacchus Energy Drink. Also, please stay tuned for the launch of our food and workout focused site TEAMBUFFET.COM, which will be in November. Thanks!