Charles Rosa has finished all eight of his opponents. | Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Patience is a virtue, whether it comes to cooking or the sport of mixed martial arts.
Undefeated featherweight prospect Charles Rosa has used the patience he learned while earning a degree in culinary arts and applied it to his MMA career to great benefit. He had to wait a year after he started training to have his first fight and then fought 20 times as an amateur before making his professional debut in September 2010.
“He is a special kid,” said Rosa’s coach, Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Charles McCarthy. “Naturally, he’s very gifted when it comes to fighting, but when he got here, he also made a lot of mistakes that were dangerous for fighting at a high level. To get to a high level, you have to avoid mistakes. We did everything the right way with Charles, starting with amateur grappling tournaments and going from there. With the guys I work with, I want to make sure they work the right way. When they get to where they're going to end up, I want them to be as skilled as possible.
“You see guys work so hard to get to the UFC,” he added, “and they’re gone after a couple of fights. I wanted Charles to have the skills to back up his talents. We wanted him to be UFC-ready by the time he had his first pro fight and if the UFC called for him to be ready to win.”
The 27-year-old Rosa trains out of an American Top Team affiliate in Boynton Beach, Fla., and has finished all eight of his professional opponents. Seven of those stoppages have come in the first round, with the most recent being a first-round armbar submission of Brylan Van Artsdalen on a Classic Entertainment and Sports card in March.
“If I could’ve thought of the way I’d want my career to go, I couldn’t have scripted it better,” said Rosa, who earned his degree from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. “I train at ATT, which is one of the best gyms out there, and I’m surrounded by the best fighters. [McCarthy] is a perfect coach for me. He came into the gym right after he ended his UFC career, and that gave him time to focus and build me. When I came in, I was just a tough kid off the streets, and I knew from the first time sparring that this was what wanted to do. I stuck with it and it was a little frustrating having to wait to fight, but I think it was the perfect way to build me so I’d be ready to fight at the highest level. I think he’s built me perfectly. I couldn’t be more happy.”
Rosa grew up about 15 minutes north of Boston and lived there until he finished high school. He then went to Johnson & Wales, where he played lacrosse for the Wildcats. After graduating, he made his way to Florida. He worked as a chef at Cut 432, a steakhouse in Delray Beach, Fla., before taking up MMA at American Top Team.
“I came to Florida when I was 21, but when I was 17 and 18 years old, I lost my two brothers to drug overdoses,” Rosa said. “From 17 until I was about 21, I was in a really tough spot and I just got into a deep hole mentally. Once I came down to Florida, I felt like it was a second chance to renew myself and start over. I came down here with the hope of starting a new life for myself, and that’s what I did. [McCarthy] is one the key people in helping me do that. I didn’t have anybody down here.”
Rosa still works at Cut 432 on a part-time basis “to keep extra money coming and keep my mind sharp,” but his main focus is on his training and building Chucky’s Fight -- a charity dedicated to fighting teen substance abuse.
“One of my big motivations is my brothers,” Rosa said. “My dad and I started Chucky’s Fight to educate people on substance abuse. It gives me something to fight for. I’m fighting to get recognition and also help the charity. I got a second chance, and I’m going to use it every day.”
According to McCarthy, Rosa trains like a fighter who knows he is fortunate to have gotten a second chance in his life.
“Charles is incredible,” he said. “He’s the best fighter I’ve ever worked with. He does everything that’s asked of him and more and does everything the way you want. He trains perfect, beyond what you really expect of him. He’s great now and is going to be even better. He’s very, very tenacious, similar to Joe Lauzon. When the bell rings, he’s looking to beat you with any weapon he has. He uses all his tools to try and finish every moment of the fight.”
Rosa will face Jake Constant at CES MMA 25 on Aug. 8 at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I. Constant -- who trains out of the same camp as “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 19 winner Corey Anderson -- replaced the injured Nick Gonzalez at the event, which will air live on AXS TV. Rosa always stays ready, just in case the call from the UFC comes sooner than anticipated.
“The way I train is the same whether I have a fight scheduled or not,” he said. “If I have a fight coming, I’ll wind down my training towards the end, but I’m always training two or three times per day. When I have a fight, I’m a little more cautious about training and [try to] be safer, but I’m always training hard. Fighting in the UFC is something I’m always training for. By the time I had my first pro fight, I wanted to show people I was ready for the UFC. I feel more ready now than I ever have been. I think [McCarthy] really took his time with me, and I think it’s going to pay off when it does happen.”