Mark “Mugen” Striegl loves to eat and cook pizza. We talked about his passion for cooking in a one-on-one interview with the Asian mixed martial arts superstar earlier today in a newly opened restaurant in Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines, where I am currently based.
“After I’m done fighting, I’d like to have my own gym and maybe my own café or restaurant,” Striegl told me. “I do like cooking. I love food. I’m a huge foodie, you know, which makes it difficult because as a fighter, you have to watch your diet, you have to be very disciplined.”
Signed with ONE Championship, Striegl is currently living in Baguio City, Philippines, which happens to be my home city. It is also the same city where he had his first MMA fight in the country.
While training in a higher altitude is advantageous for Striegl, he acknowledges the struggle living in a country where foods are not really ideal for fighters like him. He said, “Being in the Philippines, to be honest, (can be hard for fighters).”
“The Philippines is not a very, it isn’t a very athlete-friendly country for nutrition, you know, and diet,” the Filipino-American MMA fighter said. “For every single fight, it takes a lot of discipline to eat a bowl of oatmeal and a banana every morning, when I much rather eat something like longganisa or tapsilog, even Spam (canned pork luncheon meat), or anything else but oatmeal but you have make all of this sacrifice so you can perform well and lose weight, as well.”
I asked Striegl whether he wanted to become a fighter or a chef when he was a kid. He replied, “Well, I always liked cooking when I was younger. I would experiment cooking pizzas from scratch.”
Apparently, aside from the gym, the kitchen is one of Striegl’s favorite places. He revealed, “If I was homesick actually, I would, if I was homesick, I’d go to the kitchen, look around and if there’s no food, I’d just start mixing things, try to make things from scratch so I do enjoy cooking and if I wasn’t a fighter, I’d probably be chef.”