Undefeated Finishing Machine Charles Rosa on the UFC: “It’s Just a Matter of Time”
Like many fighters who have accrued similarly impressive records, featherweight prospect Charles Rosa (8-0, with three TKOs, five submissions – all but one of them first-round finishes) is finding it increasingly harder to lock down an opponent. At the time of our interview two weeks ago, the polite, even tempered and well-spoken 27-year-old’s second scheduled opponent for this Friday’s Classic Entertainment and Sports (CES) MMA 25 had pulled out due to injury – an excuse Rosa wasn’t necessarily buying.
“They found another guy [after my original opponent (Nick Gonzalez)] and he said he didn’t want to,” he said. “He felt like he was being set up. He had over 30 fights – both guys have over 30 fights – but they both turned it down. I think I’m just getting a lot of notoriety now, so it’s kind of hard to find opponents, but they’re getting paid – they’re offering a lot of money to fight me – so someone will take [the fight] eventually.”
His replacement opponent turned out to be Jake Constant (5-4), an Illinois-based fighter who regularly competes at bantamweight and trains alongside The Ultimate Fighter 19 winner Corey Anderson. The two men will square off in the co-main event of the evening, a slot on the AXS TV-aired card that will afford Rosa his first appearance on national television.
“I’ve been training for this since my first day as an amateur,” he said. “I’m really getting used to the notoriety I’m getting from it and I’m really enjoying it. The more recognition I can get, the happier I am. It’s always been my dream to fight on TV. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Originally from Boston – where he grew up playing lacrosse, hockey and football – Rosa continued his ascension up the contact sports ladder into mixed martial arts while pursuing a degree in culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami. He joined American Top Team Boynton Beach and soon fell under the tutelage of his mentor, former UFC fighter Charles McCarthy, whose management company Guardian Sports Group currently counts Rosa as a client.
Since turning pro in August 2012, he’s kept extremely active. He fought four times in 2013 (his total in-cage time – 9:20) and is looking to keep a similar schedule this year.
“I think the number one most important thing – more than learning, more than going 100 miles per hour every day and going to 100 classes – is staying healthy,” he said. “Honestly, you’re better off going into a fight without training one second than going into a fight injured. If you’re injured, it’s almost impossible to perform. I work on conditioning my body. I don’t do a lot of weights; I do stretching and cardio stuff. I do a lot of biking. I don’t strengthen any muscles to the point where they’re overcompensating for other ones, so my body is pretty solid all the way around. Hockey definitely made me tough. Going through those really tough, gritty practices where you’re getting checked every day, skating hard and crashing into the boards… I think my bone structure is kind of used to it.”
Genetics may play some role in it as well, he conceded. His grandfather, father and uncle all indulged in “The Sweet Science.” He attributes much of where he is today to their influence.
“I actually talked to my grandfather about the boxing thing the other day,” he said. “He told me about when he was in his 20s, he had a choice between being a professional boxer or going to Harvard. Luckily, he chose the Harvard route, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t be here. He’s really the reason I’m able to do what I do now. My father, he always raised me tough and my uncle, he’s 46 and he still boxes. He’s actually doing the Ringside Tournament soon, which is the biggest boxing tournament in the U.S.”
Despite how deeply entrenched the male members of his family are in classic pugilism, they nonetheless were open minded enough to give his sport a try as well. There’s an understanding between them that, sure, strictly boxing will undoubtedly make your hands better, but where mixed martial artists can become quite capable boxers, the same cannot be said conversely for boxers who refuse to train in any other discipline.
“My whole family recognizes the evolution of the sport,” he offered. “Yeah, there are some old-time boxer who can say [negative things about MMA], but, honestly, everyone kind of knows that MMA is for real now. Obviously, if you just work your hands every day you’re going to have better hands, but there’s also kicks, the wrestling and all the other stuff.”
In fact, Rosa had the opportunity to test that exact assertion not too long ago.
“I actually had the opportunity to go to Floyd Mayweather’s gym and train with some of their top guys,” he continued. “I was fine boxing with them as well. Floyd Sr., I said to him, ‘Hey coach, you got any guys I can spar with?’ And he said, ‘Aw, you won’t even show up.’ The next day, I showed up and I whooped up on a couple of their guys. It was pretty cool.
“It was a pretty amazing experience because, you know, they obviously want to be closed-minded because they want to protect their sport. I think that’s really what it is, but my family recognizes it. They’ve all trained MMA at some point – except my grandfather; he just couldn’t understand it as much – but my uncle and my dad have. My dad trains jiu-jitsu. He’s a black belt in Japanese jiu-jitsu, so he understands the evolution of the sport, and my uncle Tommy, he’s done some jiu-jitsu and realized that he knows absolutely nothing as far as that goes, so he just sticks to the boxing but is still pretty interested in it, for sure.”
Considering his record, team and dedication, it’s unsurprising to find out that the offers have been coming in. He’s been courted by the World Series of Fighting, Bellator and several other promotions. The only promotion he’s interested in signing with, he said, is the UFC.
“My name’s definitely out there,” he said. “I’ve met Dana White. I’ve met Sean Shelby. I talked to both of them. Dana White told me I was ready. Sean Shelby said that they’ll get to me in a matter of time. It’s hard. There’s a lot of guys from American Top Team in this 145 pound division. It’s a really stacked division – the most crowded division right now – so it’s just a matter of time, I think. Eventually, they won’t be able to deny me if I just keep winning and building my record. I’m in no rush. I’m still getting better every day, so when the time comes I’ll be ready for sure.”
Charles Rosa is facing Jake Constant in the co-main event of CES 25 this Friday at the Twin Rivers Casino in Lincoln, RI. The event will be broadcast nationally on AXS TV at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. Click HERE for information on the full fight card and to purchase tickets.
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