Charles Rosa sports eight first-round finishes among his 10 wins. | Photo: Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Charles Rosa has his feet under him in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Rosa will meet “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” winner Yair Rodriguez in a featherweight showcase at UFC 188 “Velasquez vs. Werdum” on Saturday at the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City. The 28-year-old American Top Team export last fought at UFC Fight Night “McGregor vs. Siver” in January, when he submitted Sean Soriano with a third-round brabo choke and picked up his first victory inside the Octagon before a throng of hometown supporters in his native Massachusetts. Rosa has finished all 10 of his career wins, seven of them via submission.
Rodriguez, a 22-year-old tae kwon do black belt, claimed a unanimous decision over Leonardo Morales at UFC 180 in November to become the inaugural winner of “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America.”
In this exclusive interview with Sherdog.com, Rosa discusses his motives, the controversial UFC-Reebok deal, his forthcoming bout with Rodriguez and his admiration for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady:
Sherdog.com: How would you grade your performance through two UFC appearances?
Rosa: As far as a number or letter grade, I’m not sure. In a way, I’m happy with my performances. Although I lost my debut [to Dennis Siver on short notice], I think I did a good job rising to the occasion and not getting those Octagon jitters; but I’m a perfectionist, man. There are always things that can be improved on. From a technical standpoint, everything -- striking and grappling -- can always be improved upon. I’m looking forward to showcasing some improvements that I’ve made since my most recent fight in Mexico City. I’m making big strides every time I fight, and this one will be no different.
Sherdog.com: What did your first UFC win over Sean Soriano in your hometown mean to you?
Rosa: It meant the world to me. Really, every fight means the world to me, but, of course, that fight was especially special, since it was so close to home. I would like to have finished the fight much sooner, but the experience was incredible. I felt so much love leading up to, during and, of course, after the fight. It would’ve been amazing to get my first UFC win, regardless of the location and venue, but that was a very special experience. That’s something I’m never, ever going to forget.
Sherdog.com: Who has had the most significant impact on your career?
Rosa: I get asked this quite a bit, but I couldn’t possibly say who has had the biggest impact. My family’s support and the support of my friends means the world to me. That support is huge. My coaches and teammates at American Top Team and my management team means so much to me and my career. So many people have made such a significant impact on my career; it wouldn’t be fair to single one out as having the most significant impact. It’s really a team behind me, and everyone plays a major role and, hopefully, enjoys our successes equally.
Sherdog.com: What motivates you to endure the day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month grind in the gym?
Rosa: What drives me is the pursuit of perfection. I’m a perfectionist, man. What also motivates me, of course, is to represent my family, my friends, my fans, my city and my country the best that I possibly can. I have so much support -- so many hardworking people -- behind me. That alone drives me so much. It’s not about the money, but of course I’m also motivated to make a better living for myself and my future family.
Sherdog.com: There has been a lot of talk, some of it good, some of it not so good, regarding the deal the UFC signed with Reebok. What are your thoughts on that deal and how it will impact you as an individual fighter?
Rosa: I’m excited. I’ve been a big Reebok fan since I was a kid and I’m excited to represent them in the Octagon. I think having an official apparel sponsor for the UFC is a big step forward in terms of the sport’s development, and they picked a great organization to lead the charge. I’m not sure how it will impact me as an individual. The UFC has done so much to get the sport to where it is today; I trust them.
Sherdog.com: What do you know about Yair Rodriguez, your opponent at UFC 188?
Rosa: He’s a very dangerous fighter. You don’t make it that far on “The Ultimate Fighter” without being a dangerous fighter, but with all due respect, I don’t train for Yair Rodriguez; I train for myself. I know he’ll be tough, I know he’s got skills and I know he’ll have the fans’ support. That doesn’t change my job. I’m going to go out there, do what I do best and get this win.
Sherdog.com: What will it be like for you changing roles and fighting a hometown favorite?
Rosa: It will be very interesting, man. I’ve had the privilege of fighting in front of a lot of supporters in Florida, where I’ve lived for the past several years, and fighting in Rhode Island several times for CES MMA, which has been in front of a ton of hometown support. It will be interesting to be put in this new position, but it won’t have any influence on the fight. What matters is what happens between Yair and I in the Octagon, and I’m going to get that win, whether everyone watching likes it or not. By the end of the night, I’m going to have a lot more fans in Mexico City anyways.
Sherdog.com: If you could trade places with any professional athlete for a day, who would you choose and why?
Rosa: Tom Brady looks to have a pretty sweet life, but I don’t want to trade places with anybody for any amount of time, because then, I’d have to miss a day in my life; and I love my life too much to do that (laughs).
Sherdog.com: What are your thoughts on Brady and the whole “Deflate-gate” scandal in the NFL?
Rosa: Yeah, I’m a big Tom Brady fan. Honestly, I’ve been so focused on my fight that I haven’t kept up to date with this whole situation. I don’t know the details enough, really, to comment. Of course, I don’t condone any form of cheating in anything, whether it’s in sports or anywhere in life. If they cheated, they should be punished. If not, we’re good. Either way, I predict another Patriots Super Bowl win next season (laughs).
Sherdog.com: If you could travel back in time, say 5-10 years, what advice would you give yourself?
Rosa: I’d say, “Just continue doing what you’re doing, Charles.” I couldn’t be happier with my life, so I’d suggest I just continue what I’m doing, stay the path, trust in the process and everything will work out great; and it is working out great. I couldn’t be happier. Well, I will be happier after I get this win.