Mixed martial artists are no strangers to uncertainty, but the coronavirus pandemic posed a different kind of adversity, especially in its first few months.
Professional fighters are often given adequate time to prepare, but this was a fight no one could have foreseen. Mark Striegl tried to remain optimistic through it all as a family man and Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight. “We just have to move forward,” he said. Initially, he was thankful to be with his family when global travel was interrupted at an unprecedented level, but the realities of his situation soon kicked in. The Filipino-American had to deal with less-than-ideal training regimens. Coincidentally, it was during this time that Striegl was signed by the UFC.
He discussed his struggles and his response to them in an exclusive interview with Sherdog.com:
Prior to his stint in the UFC, Striegl enjoyed a title reign in the Universal Reality Combat Championship organization and had just struck gold as a sambo practitioner in the Southeast Asian Games. However, as soon as COVID-19 became a reality, whatever momentum he was riding vanished. It became a time to reflect and evolve for the Japan-born Striegl. With more time on his hands, he decided to immerse himself in the world of crypto, using the downtime to educate himself with all the materials he could find. Recently, Striegl signed with Crypto Fight Club—a cryptocurrency platform with a play-to-earn game powered by its own native token. CFC feels like a throwback to turn-based strategy games of the 1990s, with a simple storyline: Acquire fighters, kit them and prepare to scrap. However, unlike other play-to-earn games, it has a more level playing field.
Billed as the “ultimate play-to-earn gaming platform,” Crypto Fight Club affords users the opportunity to triumph no matter the amount of their investment. It brings the power back to the players’ hands, making their foray into crypto as sensible and as adventure-filled as possible. As with his UFC contract, Striegl views his partnership with Crypto Fight Club as a blessing. “We started talking about their fight token, what their app is about, and from there, we discussed what I can do as an ambassador to spread the word and show what’s up,” Striegl said. He engaged in his first Twitter AMA (ask me anything) session with the Crypto Fight Club team in April. Other fighters on the CFC roster: Superbon Banchamek and Dzhabar Askerov.
“Crypto and MMA are both exciting and fast-paced,” Striegl said. Having partnered with an innovative team like Crypto Fight Club, he believes he has put himself in a good place and vows to never stop learning, alluding to a familiar mentality prevalent in MMA. Like cryptocurrency advocate, Striegl sees crypto as the future. It remains in its early stages, but some believe we could be looking at the most revolutionary technology of our time. Striegl appreciates how Crypto Fight Club supports fighters while highlighting MMA and other combat sports. To that end, he wants to continue to represent the Philippines in MMA and sambo. “I’ve got to get that first win in the UFC,” Striegl said. “As far as sambo goes, I want to win the Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games next year and more SEA Games titles.”
Eager to Make a Mark
After back-to-back losses to start his UFC run, Striegl understands the precarious position in which he left himself. The Baguio City, Philippines, export was stopped by Said Nurmagomedov at UFC Fight Night 180 and Chas Skelly at UFC Fight Night 201. “Hopefully, I get the call soon so I can show the UFC and the fans that I do belong at this level,” Striegl said. “That’s my focus right now.” He was released by the promotion on May 4 with two fights remaining on his contract. However, he has a track record of resolve to which he can point. After bowing to Reece McLaren under the One Championship banner in 2105, Striegl rattled off four straight victories and punched his ticket to the UFC.