After 11 years as a professional, and a coronavirus-induced false start, Mark Striegl will finally make his UFC debut this weekend.

The Filipino fighter was due to make his bow in August until a positive covid test put paid to that, but a little under two months later Fight Island Abu Dhabi will provide the back-drop to a fight many years in the making.

“This is the culmination of years of hard work and training and the goal has always been the UFC,” says the 18-2-0-1NC Streigl. “To sign with the UFC and to make my debut at such a cool place, Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island, it is an honour and I can’t wait to represent the Philippines and go all out.

“Things are going 100% more smoothly than back in August. I feel after the cancelled fight I just had even more time to put in a proper training camp. I feel better this time around – and Covid free of course – so I am feeling good about things.”

32-year-old Striegl, has journeyed across multiple fight organisations, lighting crowds up with his explosive style and penchant for a submission.

The Baguio-based fighter was originally billed to fight Timur Valiev at the APEX in Vegas, and with the change in date and location has come a change in opponent.

Said Nurmagomedov, no relation to current lightweight king Khabib, will bring a different puzzle to solve than the solid-handed Valiev. With nine of his 15 pro fights going the distance (13-2 overall, 2-1 UFC), the Russian is a picture of Eastern European durability, but Striegl is more focused on what he will be bringing to the table.

With 14 of his 18 pro wins coming via submission, the game plan, and the will to entertain, is clear from the outset.

“We have a slightly different game plan, and there are some slightly different things we have to be aware of going into the fight but ultimately, I think fighting is imposing your will and skillset and will on your opponent,” Striegl says.

“My fans know me, I am never in a boring fight – they are always action packed. I want to let my arrival be known.”

With a large Filipino community in the UAE, Striegl could have expected some vociferous support were the fight to take place in front of fans. It is not the case, and he is now keen to go out and represent his country and following the footsteps of countrymen such as Mark Munoz and Brandon Vera.

“I still feel all the support online, I have got a lot of messages from the Filipino community – so there will be no regrets.

“It is a privilege and an honour to follow in the footsteps of the fighters before me. I just want to represent the country as best I can.”

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