Former Ateneo Lady Eagle Starr Striegl talks about husband Mark being in the UFC

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Former Ateneo Lady Eagle Starr Striegl talks about husband Mark being in the UFC
UFC fighter Mark Striegl with wife Starr

MANILA, Philippines – Starr Cabuco-Striegl knows what it is like to be away for long training days. After all, she competed for the Ateneo Lady Eagles in the UAAP. 

She also knows adversity as well as when she manned the middle on both offense and defense — these were the days prior to Ateneo’s first Final Four appearance in 2007 that she missed by a year. 

So Starr Cabuco-Striegl gets it when her husband, mixed martial arts fighter Mark Striegl, is in the United States to train (at the MMA Lab in Phoenix, Arizona) and to fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship for some 51 days. 

However, when Mark does take to the Octagon at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on February 19 to fight Chas Skelly, Starr will fidget and worry like always. After all, while playing volleyball, she never got pummeled in the face or got kicked in the body.

“I know it’s an occupational hazard, but I still worry. After all, that is my husband getting hit,” admitted Starr, who during this interview was at their home in Baguio working as a school administrator while taking care of their two children. “Being a partner to a MMA fighter, I didn’t know at first what it entailed. I didn’t know what was going to hit me.”

"Being an athlete (Starr plays a lot of tennis in Baguio) helps me understand to a certain level,” she added. “Of course, it is nerve-wracking but I cannot imagine what it is like for him because he is the one fighting. I’ve watched eight of his fights and I’m like an active corner person. The whole experience is painful, exciting, and satisfying.”

Starr (fifth from left) during her time with the Ateneo Lady Eagles.

Satisfying because Striegl is one of the few Filipinos thus far to make it to the UFC and is currently one of two — the other being Fil-American Jordan Williams. 

“It is surreal of him being in the UFC but when I got my head wrapped around that, it is an honor. And I am proud,” gushed Starr. “The UFC is the apex of his sport. Not everyone gets to fight in the best and biggest MMA organization in the world. We know all the sacrifices he is going through. So it is also my responsibility to support him.”

Mark and Starr met through a mutual tennis friend who randomly asked the latter if she was dating. 

“I wasn’t dating anyone so bring him on,” Starr to her friend Elaine. “And Mark came over and watched me while I was playing tennis. Suddenly someone was cheering from behind!”

“After the game, Mark convinced me to go out right away and I didn’t even get to change. I was wearing sweats and a jacket.”

The two went dancing and the day until the wee hours of the morning.

“It was not an official date as it was more like a hangout thing,” clarified Starr, who texted her friend and said, “Hey I like your friend. He’s cool. But you have to be honest with him and tell him I was eight years older.”

Starr was turning 32 and Mark was 24. 

“If he is not interested because I am eight years older, no hard feelings. But I had fun.”

Mark’s reply: “Tell her age is just a number.”

From there, they went on a date, and eventually tied the knot.

Today, Starr runs the family-owned school with Mark helping out as a physical education instructor. 

“Classes are always packed when it is Mark doing the teaching,” pointed out Starr. 

Like Mark, Starr wasn’t born in the Summer Capital of the Philippines although she was raised there. After her college days at the Ateneo, she moved back to Baguio. 

As for Mark, his first MMA fight in the Philippines was in Baguio and has since made it his home with his parents also relocating there from Japan.

However, right now, the couple are in separate time zones and zip codes.

“We make it a point to talk every day,” said Starr. “We talk about my day and his day. It is what gives each other strength. 

And Mark will need it because UFC Fight Night on February 19 will be huge.

“I used to fight for myself,” summed up Mark via Zoom interview in Arizona. “But right now, it is also for my family. This is for our future. 

Mark Striegl’s fight versus Chas Skelly can be viewed by Filipino combat sports fans through Premier Sports on Skycable and Cignal as well as the Tap Go streaming application.




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