Everybody has seen that fighter who wins three or four fights and is screaming to be in the UFC. It’s the nature of the sport of mixed martial arts. Everybody wants to be the best fighter on the planet, and it only takes a few wins for most fighters to feel that they can make a splash in the big ocean of the UFC.

With four wins to his name, Charles Rosa could easily be lumped into this category. But it only takes a moment of research to realize that those four fights need to be multiplied by six. Only then do you have his true experience as a competitor.

Something that boxing does well is to prime its athletes for professional competition. No amount of training can make up for fight experience, and it’s a wealth of experience prior to his professional career that has helped Rosa maintain a four-fight winning streak and an undefeated record. Having a total of 20 amateur fights behind him over a three-year period, Rosa knows that without this approach, things could have been completely different.

“From day one when I walked into Charles McCarthy’s gym, we decided to do things the right way,” he explained in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “It allowed me to experience a little bit of everything before I made my professional debut. With my experience, it allowed me to learn from past mistakes too. I was able to learn from the mistakes of Charles, especially. He made it all the way to the UFC, but he made a lot of mistakes along the way too.

“Having all that fight experience before me has meant that I am ready for any fight before me. I had the full experience as an amateur, and I battled through every situation possible. I fought for belts, I fought guys that were 200 pounds when I was 150, and I learnt from mistakes of my own.

Rosa (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

“I learnt not to take just any fight. My second loss came after I had won like 15 fights in a row and I just felt invincible, and I went out there completely different to how I usually prepared for fights. I was confident that I was just going to win and I didn’t. I got caught in the first round and got choked out. I learnt a lot from that and it made me a better fighter.”

“When I first started out, I was just this Boston street kid that had walked into the gym. I used to play hockey, so I was athletic, but that’s all that I had to offer when I walked in there. And it was at least something for Charles to work with. Once I started training a little, he said that I had the heart and I was tough, but I just needed the technique. He truly believed that I could be the best.”

Professional fighters are just like any other person deep down. They all have their idols, and they have dreams outside of their career progression. When an opportunity comes up to be able to do something that they have always dreamed of, it can almost be surreal.

“Training at the [Floyd] Mayweather camp was an experience of a lifetime,” Rosa admitted. “If you could ask me, as far as fighting goes, what my one dream would have been, it would be to see how this guy who is going to be considered one of the best boxers of all time prepares for his fights. I made the most of every day that I was there. I would wake up early and run to the gym, and I got to work with some of the best coaches around. I got to work with Jeff Mayweather and met Floyd Sr. It really was the opportunity of a lifetime, and being able to spend some of my camp for my last CES fight there really made me hungrier for that win.”

Something that McCarthy instills in his fighters is that there must be something that you can do if the dream of being a professional fighter does not come true. It’s something that he is passionate about, having being through the highs and lows of post-UFC life. Rosa’s passion outside of the cage comes in an unlikely form.

“I went to culinary school, and I was working in restaurants full-time before I started training properly,” Rosa said. “I still like to do it, and I still work part-time at Cut 432, which is a five-star restaurant that has some great food. I’m still pretty young, so I like to have something to go back to if I can’t do this or if I get injured or something. I like it a lot, and it’s a great place to work at. It’s a great restaurant, and if you have the money it’s definitely worth going there.”

All of Rosa’s four professional wins have come in the first round. Whilst it may not have been the initial plan, he now finds himself chasing that same scenario in every fight. For some fighters, a win is a win and it’s about winning the fight. Rosa, however, wants to ensure that people remember him for the right reasons.

“Being able to finish my fights is definitely something that I pride myself on,” he admitted. “I think that it makes a big difference to who you are as a fighter too. I could be undefeated, but all of my wins could have come from split decisions or majority decisions or whatever. It shows that I am not just point fighting. With my record, you can tell that I am going out there to win the fight and I am looking for that finish.”

Rosa (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

With his next opponent, Steve McCabe, having a professional record of six wins with 13 losses, it would be easy for Rosa to walk into their CES 19 fight as confident as ever. Having learnt from his past experiences, though, there is no way that he would once again judge a book by its cover.

“I don’t look at a guy’s record; I look at the fighter,” he said. “He has fought a lot of good guys, so it’s not like he’s going to be an easy fight. He has a lot of experience in there. He’s had like 20 professional fights and he’s been the distance a lot of times. I know that I am going to fight smart, and I am confident I will come out with the win.”

As a rule, a fighter is only as good as the people that they surround themselves with. Rosa is always seeking out the best training that he can and ensures that he has the right people making the right decisions in his career. Friend, mentor, coach and manager Charles McCarthy fits the bill, and he has long said that big things would come from not only Rosa but the other fighters that he represents. This past week, McCarthy’s Guardian Sports Group signed its first athlete, Walt “Big Ticket” Harris, to the UFC.

“Everything keeps on happening the way that it’s supposed to,” Rosa said. “I was really excited to hear that Walt was signed by the UFC and even more excited that Charles had gotten his first guy in there too. Charles doesn’t just sign anybody to Guardian. He looks for the best guys and guys that he knows are going to make it big. For me, I don’t look at myself as being managed by Guardian. I see us all as a team. We are all working towards being the best guys out there, and when one of us do well, we all look good.”

Notching up another professional win will move Rosa one step closer to where he truly wants to be. The difference between his want of being on the big stage and the want of other young and hungry fighters is in his lengthy fight experience. Whilst some fans will only know of the times that he has donned the gloves professionally, Rosa has the cage time of a seasoned veteran. At the end of the day, that is what is going to make all the difference when he does finally get the chance to prove that he has what it takes to be a world champion.

Charles would like to thank his sponsors: Thick As Thieves, Cut 432, Kimbo 305, Planet Juice, Chucky’s Fight, Pats Towing and Jawz Mouthguards. He would also like to thank Guardian Sports Group and American Top Team. Follow Rosa on Twitter: @CharlesRosaMMA

Top Photo: Charles Rosa (L) secures an armbar (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.