Mark “Mugen” Striegl, 32, is currently the only Filipino mixed martial artist signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Amid strict travel restrictions due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, he traveled from Baguio City, Philippines to Las Vegas, Nevada, United States to pursue one of his dreams, which is to fight in the UFC.
The first four months of Striegl’s quarantine time were spent in Baguio City where he has been residing since 2011. On July 4, 2020, his head coach George Castro called him to tell him that his management Ruby Sports and Entertainment said if he could make it to Las Vegas, there would be a high chance he could get a fight in the UFC.
I asked Striegl who are the people he wants to thank for helping him prepare for his upcoming UFC fight with his fellow promotional debutante Timur “The Lucky” Valiev, 30, of Makhachkala, Dagestan, Russia. Striegl told me, “I’d like to thank Ruby Sports and my coach George Castro for making this happen also the guys over here at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas with Coach John Wood.”
“After experiencing travelling from Baguio to Las Vegas amid the pandemic, what is your message to the Philippine government?” I asked Striegl. He simply replied, “I just pray that things become more organized during this chaotic time.”
After a week of training in Baguio City with EJ Miranda, Striegl travelled to Metro Manila, Philippines. On July 15, 2020, Striegl had a wrestling and grappling session with Neil Laraño, one of his main training partners in Metro Manila.
While finalizing all of travel preparations, Striegl had another week of training in Metro Manila. He had sparring sessions with Miranda and Laraño on July 18, 2020.
On July 29, 2020, Striegl finally left Metro Manila and flew to Las Vegas. He kept mum amid the rumors about his upcoming UFC fight until August 14, 2020 when he was officially signed with the MMA promotion based in Las Vegas.
On August 16, 2020, Striegl had a training session at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas where he encountered UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin, 41. Fighting out of Las Vegas, the latter competed in the UFC from 2005 to 2012.
Striegl’s UFC debut will be at “UFC on ESPN 15,” which will be held at UFC APEX in Las Vegas on August 22, 2020. He will fight Valiev in the bantamweight division.
This will not be the first time Striegl is competing in the U.S. as a professional MMA fighter. A University of San Diego alum, he made his professional MMA debut on July 25, 2009 at “Total Combat 34” at the Star Light Bowl at Balboa Park in San Diego where he submitted Andy “Hurricane” Jewett of the U.S. via rear-naked choke.
Currently, Striegl holds a professional MMA record of 18 wins, 2 losses, 0 draw and 1 No Contest. On the other hand, Valiev has 14 wins and 2 losses.
Valiev competed in World Series of Fighting from 2014 to 2016 and in Professional Fighters League from 2017 to 2018. All of his bouts in the two promotions took place in the U.S.
Also known as “UFC Vegas 7,” “UFC on ESPN 15” will be headlined by Pedro “The Young Punisher” Munhoz, 33, of São Paulo, Brazil and Frankie “The Answer” Edgar, 38, of Toms River, New Jersey, USA. The first bout of the evening is the bantamweight match between Striegl and Valiev.