Charles “Boston Strong” Rosa has big plans for the featherweight division. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
Charles Rosa established a foothold in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s featherweight division with an impressive finish on Sean Soriano at UFC Fight Night “McGregor vs. Siver” on Jan. 18 in Boston. The victory was amplified by the fact that the Massachusetts native grew up attending events at the TD Garden, where a number of family and friends were on hand to witness his third-round brabo choke submission.
“That was the greatest feeling and was definitely the best night of my life,” Rosa told Sherdog.com. “It was everything I’ve been working for during the last six years since I started in MMA. It was the thing to make it all worth it. I take a lot of pride in being in Boston and where I’m from. I mean, I grew up there. I was always a huge Boston sports fan, so I would go to the Bruins games as a kid and watch the games from the nosebleeds and always dream of playing at the Boston Garden. Finally, when I got the call telling me I got a fight there, it was a dream come true, and finally, I got to live it out. I had over 50 cousins there.”
The victory, Rosa’s first in the UFC, allowed the American Top Team-trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt to rebound from his decision loss to Dennis Siver on short notice in October. Considering the nature in which their fight was booked, “Boston Strong” would welcome a rematch with the Russian-born German kickboxer.
“I don’t like to make excuses or anything, but when I fought Siver, I fought him on five days’ notice, in another country and had just lost 30 pounds,” Rosa said. “I thought I came pretty close to beating him, not to mention it was my UFC debut. I would love to get another shot at Siver. Personally, I don’t think it was a fair fight. You can’t expect anyone to come in on that short of notice and it be a fair fight. He was coming in after eight months away because of steroids, so he literally had eight months to prepare for that specific date, when I only had five days.”
Siver followed up the win with a second-round technical knockout loss to Conor McGregor at the same card on which Rosa downed Soriano. Like the rest of the featherweight division, Rosa has his eyes on the “Notorious” Irishman. The 28-year-old admits he does not like the idea that McGregor has been positioned as someone with deep ties to Boston.
“I know Conor is talented, but I’m definitely not the biggest fan,” Rosa said. “He’s from Ireland -- he represented his country well -- but when he’s in Boston, he’s in my house. Someday down the road, we can fight for that position, but I know I have a ton of work to do to get to that point. He’s a guy I’ve been watching.”
Rosa continues to recuperate from a hamstring injury he suffered against Soriano. He will return to the Octagon at UFC 188 on June 13, when he faces Yair Rodriguez at the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City.
“Personally, as a fighter, I’ll fight anybody,” Rosa said. “That’s why I hired my manager, though. I want them making those decisions for me. I’m never going to back down from a fight. I’m not big on calling guys out. I don’t think it benefits anyone.”
Aside from winning fights and becoming a more complete mixed martial artist, Rosa wants to see the sport cleaned up in regards to performance-enhancing drugs. Recent high-profile drug-test failures have him questioning the state of fairness in the sport.
“I’m 100 percent against any types of drugs, even weed,” Rosa said. “I have lost two older brothers to drug addiction. Steroids are just as much of a problem. It’s not fair for me to go into a fight clean and have to compete against a guy on steroids. I don’t know if Siver wasn’t on steroids when I fought him, and I lost that fight. I don’t think he got tested. Nobody gives me the results of those tests. Personally, I don’t think I should have to go in there and fight those guys.
“I know that I’m young and I have a lot to prove in this sport, but I have no problem speaking out about that and being a good role model,” he added. “Hopefully, I end up being one of the role models within the sport for that.”