This week on Diamond's Corner Craig sits down with UFC fighter Charles Rosa and chats about Charles's upcoming fights and his training habits during COVID-19 lockdown. They also chat about Charles's culinary education and how he taught Walt Harris how to cook! They also take a moment to talk about Chucky's Fight a charity Charles and his family all run to help knockout substance abuse!
Check out the video of their interview or read the transcript of their conversation below! We will be releasing new Diamond's Corner videos every Friday, so check back for more awesome conversations with interesting people.
CRAIG: Hey everybody welcome back to another edition of Diamond's Corner. Uh, Special guest today, UFC um, vet Charles Rosa is joining us. What's up Charles? How're you doing?
CHARLES: Man I'm good! Just got back from the gym a little while ago, just really relaxing now until my next session later tonight so, you know, steady grinding.
CRAIG: So you have a fight coming up, it's May 9th. Is it Bryce Mitchell you got coming up?
CHARLES: Yeah, yeah May 9th fighting Bryce Mitchell, um, you know, still waiting on location exactly of the fight. But uh, yeah man, it's a fight I've been in training camp for for a while now, so um, man I'm ready to go. So hopefully this thing goes down. I mean they already called me once, I was supposed to fight Bryce Mitchell May 2nd, but they called and cancelled it um, about a week ago, they postponed it they said. But then they just postponed it a week. So um, there's only like one or two days where I thought I wasn't fighting.
CRAIG: So for anyone watching, I mean we're still kind of in the lockdown phase with Corona so it's, it's been really crazy right now. What's it like training and trying to be mentally ready and doing what you got to do and then it gets postponed and kind of having the uncertainty.
CHARLES: Yeah, it sucks, I mean, that's part of it. But, you know, it's my job as a fighter to be ready for these uh, for a fight. I mean, when the fight goes down I can't be like, oh well I thought it might not happen or have any excuses. When I get in there it's just me and, you know me and Bryce are going to be locked in the cage, I got to be ready and I got to make sure that I'm prepared. So that's what I'm doing now. Uh it was like a two-day period I think, it was about a week or ten days ago where they told me the fight was postponed, and you know, my manager and, from my understanding it was going to be postponed, like more than a week. So I went and I ate a bunch of food for like a day and a half, so it was like a good little break for about two days, but you know, my body probably needed the rest and needed the calories anyway. So I'm right back on weight now so it won’t be an issue.
CRAIG: So you said you just got back from training. What did you just do?
CHARLES: Uh yeah, I did kickboxing, so just you know, a lot of kickboxing drills, stuff like that. You know, I switch it up every day obviously, you know I got to train everything, and the fight starts in the feet. You know, they're saying this guy is a jujitsu guy or whatever, so we'll see what he brings to the table.
CRAIG: And then you've got another session what, tonight you said? Or later this afternoon?
CHARLES: Yeah, I've got another session tonight, so I'll probably do some wrestling drills with my head coach Mike Brown, um, stuff like that. So just uh, you know, training hard, getting ready for this thing.
CRAIG: Okay so you're in Florida right now, living and training?
CHARLES: Yeah I'm in South Florida, training at American Top Team. So, uh, you know, the governor in Florida passed out.
CRAIG: Awesome. So you know, I know the fighter side of you, who I'm a big fan of, I think I, I think we met at ATT, years ago...
CRAIG: ...Where I first you know, you got to try on the Diamond cup, and I know you've been protecting your uh, your nuts ever since. So we're happy and proud about that.
CHARLES: Yeah I appreciate you man. Definitely saved me some blows.
CRAIG: Um, the other side of you that really fascinates me is you’re a cook, or a chef I guess you'd call it, you're not uh... um tell me about that, and tell me how that started, and when did you start learning to cook?
CHARLES: Yeah I started cooking before I was ever uh, before I was really fighting or even training to fight. I mean I've been a fighter my whole life but since I was little, since I was probably about three or four years old, I was rolling meatballs in the kitchen. I come from a large Italian Family, so um, you know, my Mom and Dad both come from big families so it was always like food on the table and we were always cooking and stuff. But then once I graduated high school you know, the guidance counselor people said, well what do you want to go to school for? And you know, I said I don't really know, so they said, what do you want to do? I didn't, I kind of gave them a sarcastic answer, like, well what do you like to do? Well I like to eat. And I like to play hockey. And I kind of said it sarcastically but they said uh, they gave me an option- Johnson and Wales University- which is the best culinary school in the country. So you know, I've always loved food, I wanted to play hockey in college, so I was able to go to one of the best culinary schools in the country and graduate with a degree in culinary arts so. That's what kind of moved me to Florida. I got a good opportunity to work at a good restaurant, in South Florida- Cut 432- which is like a 5 star steakhouse, so, uh, man I've been working as a chef ever since. And then, you know, once I'm, and now that I'm in the UFC I kind of just keep it on the back burner and you know, still have to take my fight camps and things like that as my full priority at this point.
CRAIG: So are you, are you still working at the restaurant or?
CHARLES: No, not right now, not since I got this fight and since my last fight I haven’t because I'm trying to really focus, you know, on becoming a champion. So I got to commit a hundred percent to it, but uh, you know I still go in there sometimes and talk to the guys and, you know, the door is still open, I try to keep my knife skills and everything sharp at the house for now. And with the pandemic the restaurant is actually closed right now, so.
CRAIG: Right, yeah.
CHARLES: It is what it is but, it sucks but I'm sure once they open back up, if I ever want to hop in, they would love to have me.
CRAIG: So, I was a hockey player myself, athlete, so did you play in college you said?
CHARLES: Yeah, I played at Johnson and Wales like one year, two years, but they uh, it's you know, that stuff's political man, I mean I was one of the best players but like, they don't put you on the ice, what can you do, and that's kind of how high school was too for me. I don't like make excuses or nothing but you know, it's uh, I got in a lot of fights and stuff so the coaches didn't really like me too much because, you know, they're trying to run a team and stuff like that so, my style of hockey didn't really play into their format so I didn't always... You know I'm a very coachable guy, I'm very humble and stuff, but no, you know when you're taking penalties or get in fights during the ice, you know, you don't really get the time you need, you know, on the ice, so I didn't really....
CHARLES: ...like you know, at the NHL, the big fights. I probably should have held the role as like maybe played in like some other type of league where you can fight more and actually, you know, get love for it.
CRAIG: Yeah, if you were going to juniors, or something like that.
CRAIG: That's what it is.
CHARLES: But not in college, and not in high school. But you know, it is what it is...
CRAIG: You've got enough fighting now to do, so that's okay.
CHARLES: Exactly, exactly. So I found, you know, I found what I really love, and that is fighting. I was a better fighter than I was a hockey player so it worked out better.
CRAIG: What skills do you think translate from hockey to fighting? Is there anything you think you can bring from years of playing hockey that maybe some guys don't?
CHARLES: I think you know, the first thing is the attitude, the hard work, and the discipline of being an athlete, you know. And then, you know, going out under those bright lights and performing, like I've been at arenas and places and you know, played in some pretty cool venues like, or you go to Lake Placid, New York, and there's like a big tournament against other countries and stuff like that. It's nerve-racking when you step on the ice and there's all the fans and people watching you, so I think that definitely helps with it. You know some people don't have that experience at all, and there's the pressure, you know. And I always did better under pressure, you know, like I didn't practice as good as I played so uh, you know, I think it's what it is. I think the pressure actually makes me better so, I've used that to my advantage and so, it is what it is.
CRAIG: Cool. What, so back to cooking. I was on your Instagram, and you were cooking up some fish and scallops and broccolini and, uh, it looked incredible man. I love to cook too, my mom's a big cook, do you, are you doing all the cooking for yourself throughout camp? How do you do it, having that talent?
CHARLES: Yeah I do man, I mean that's one of the advantages I have in doing what I do. I mean part of this is having weight cut, you know so I can fight at a weight class that, you know, I'm fighting, you know, maybe having an advantage being a little bigger and stronger than the guys. Where some people might not have the, um, you know, might not be able to know how to do weight cuts, or properly, you know, getting nutrition, and they're cutting too much weight or too much water, and that can affect you in the fight. So this is a huge part of fighting is nutrition and diet, and weight cut. And some people don't see. They just see two people getting in a cage, but they don't realize what that person had to go through, you know, with their diet and nutrition, to get to that point. So, that's my huge advantage of, you know, I eat really well, up until the day of my fight. It's not a day that I don't eat. Where some fighters are cutting food out for two or three days. So um, if you eat the right foods, and you know, you can, if you eat the right foods and you can do it the right way that your body doesn't take a hit for it, like nutritionally.
CRAIG: What, that's, so, what about other guys, what about other fighters that come over that you've ever cooked for? Do guys want you to cook for them; I mean do they want...?
CHARLES: Oh yeah, oh dude they love it. I mean one of my best friends, Walt Harris, Walt 'The Big Ticket' Harris...
CRAIG: Sure, we know Walt.
CHARLES: ...For a few years he lived with me, and we'd cook like every meal together. I would just, I pretty much taught him how to cook, and he would love it man. We would just get food all day and just eat. And he's a heavyweight so, as long as uh, you know, he can eat even when he's in camp, so he ate a lot of food. But you know, whenever I wasn't in camp, we could pretty much eat whatever we wanted but, yeah, we had good times cooking in the house and he'd always be like, 'Hey let's make this again, let's make this again' And uh, you know, when I first met him he would just put salt and pepper on everything, like, just drench it. And I'm like, man what are you doing Walt. Like, I got to get some, so I couldn't, I watched him cook, and it bothered, like the first way it started was that I would watch him cook, and it would bother me so bad I'm like, Yo I can't, I got to help you. So he'd be like, burning shit whenever, but now, man i think he's a pro now. I was watching him cook the other night, uh, I was watching him cook the other night he was grilling up some steaks, he looked like he knew what he was doing now so.
CHARLES: I'm happy; I'd say he’s like a purple belt, a brown belt now at cooking. So...
CRAIG: Ooh- that's pretty good!
CHARLES: I'm the chef Charles Rosa, so he's getting his game up.
CRAIG: What, if you got to cook Walt that birthday meal, what are you gonna cook him? What's his go to?
CHARLES: Oh man, he loves shrimp. So I don't know, I'd cook him some type of shrimp, whatever he wants. Shrimp and pasta, something like that, but yeah, something like that. It depends what he's in the mood for. But he's, I mean he eats everything, he loves all types of food so, depends what he's in the mood for.
CRAIG: Let me ask you a question. So in cap, when you're, what's like the most you can eat as far as... give me an example of what you'd eat. When you're cutting in camp.
CHARLES: Yeah, so for example this morning, you know, I wake up, I ate two eggs, half a grapefruit, a banana, a tablespoon of almond butter, and that's it, you know. I'm still starving after that. But like, you know, it, drink some water, it cures my appetite where I'm not like so hungry that I, you know, and then probably two hours later uh, after like training or whatever, um, go to training, I come back and I'll usually have just say, like two chicken breasts and some vegetables, or a piece of fish or a piece of steak and some vegetables.
CHARLES: And then uh, maybe like half a potato or half a sweet potato. So, and then it, I go train again and then I'll have dinner, usually I like to eat fish and vegetables so I cut out the carbs at night. So it's pretty um, and in between I'll have an apple or a banana here and there when I'm starving or some nuts or whatever, something like that, but uh, pretty much man it's pretty strict. And really late at night if I can't sleep, like I just have some Greek yoghurt, like non-sugared, non-fat. But, pretty strict man, that's pretty much what I ate yesterday like exactly. And it's pretty on point, you know, I substitute proteins and vegetables and different things, like one day I'll have steak, chicken, the other day I'll get some nice fish, from the fish market, whatever. But yeah, I try to switch it up, but one of the keys is I just try to make it taste good, because usually eating that shit sucks. When you start eating, you know, some people, I watch some of the fighters, um; like they just eat like, every day they eat like the chicken they just cook it in the pan with some butter or something. And they don't realize like, cooking it in a pan with butter isn't that good for you, you've got to put like, you can use a little olive oil or something like that is better than butter, so, they think they're eating healthy and sometimes they're not, because they're just putting like butter on the pan or putting salt, they don't realize what they're doing. So, I'm pretty good now at cooking it where it's perfect, you know.
CRAIG: Do any of the guys ever reach out to you for questions? Or tips? When they're trying to cut?
CHARLES: Oh yeah, pretty much every day someone reaches out to me from my gym or one of my coaches, or you know, someone's like 'Hey can I Facetime you when you cook this?'. I'm like dude, I'll do it sometimes if I'm in the right time but I'm like just come over I'll teach you how to do it. So sometimes when I have my friends come over I'll just teach them how to do it and cook for them. But uh, sometimes...then I can help them.
CRAIG: But yeah, I mean, a lot of dudes don't know how to cook, and especially, you know, being a professional athlete and a fighter, and cutting weight. It's got to be such a huge part of the game, because you know, everybody's training hard, and everybody's doing what they should be doing, but the difference may be between butter or olive oil, could be a difference, you know, or could be so...
CHARLES: Yeah, for sure man, for sure.
CRAIG: So what do you do after you make weights? Tell me about that meal. I mean do you have a usual that you go to or?
CHARLES: Yeah I mean I love eating, you know, chicken parmesan so after I, after my...
CRAIG: Oh that's my favorite.
CHARLES: ... My dad is Italian, he's a cook, he's the man, my dad Chucky, and he cooks, he cooks good food for me, like, I usually always have him cook for me, and if we're away or somewhere else like, we usually find somewhere that he can make it for me or something like that but...
CRAIG: Is he going to be there with you, is he there with you usually for camp?
CHARLES: Usually he is. I mean there's been fights like, in Japan, where we're unable to pull it off, because, you know, or something like that where when I've went crazy places but, you know, I'll just substitute. I'll just find a restaurant that has like the best chicken parm in the city and just usually get it. But you know, usually right away, that's not like what I eat. That's like my desert pretty much. You know what I mean. Like after, at the end of the night, everything’s, I've already rehydrated, I'm good, like, I just want that one meal before you go to sleep the night before the fight, I'll just eat that, you know, just a little bit of pasta, a little bit of chicken. And I usually don't put the cheese on it, even though I say chicken parmesan, it's usually just chicken, with sauce and pasta because it's like, you don't want to have too much of that stuff. You know I just uh, but it is what it is. When I, I mean I've always, I've never had a fight in my entire life I haven’t performed in, my first like fifteen, twenty, amateur fights, I literally would eat like ice cream and cookies like after waiting because I didn't know better. I just like, oh I'm starving, eat some chips and whatever, and some cookies, and just eat ice cream, and I still performed in those fights. So I think it's mostly mental, it's just like, but you obviously don't want to be putting any food in you that's going to slow you down because this is like the highest level, it's professional, it's not like, you know. Doing this for money you know.
CRAIG: Every, every inch counts and everything you do counts up until the night of the fight.
CRAIG: Obviously you're focusing on getting that strap and being a champion and performing well. You ever think about after fighting? Is this something that you'd want to do? I mean there are a lot of those meal companies that will send food to fighters and people.
CRAIG: What are you thinking in the future someday?
CHARLES: Yeah, that's what I'm thinking man. I've just been watching um, you know, I'm a huge fan of watching different kinds of chefs and stuff. I'm watching like, Gordon Ramsey's Hell’s Kitchen the last couple weeks and uh, you know, the more I watch stuff like that the more I realize like, you know, cooking is one of my other passions. I mean fighting for sure is what I love and what I've committed my entire life to and, It's my number one love, but you can't fight forever. You can cook forever however. So that's going to be something that I definitely, you know, am going to use, while I'm in the UFC I'm gonna, over these next couple fights. I haven't been doing it much in the past, because you know, my name wasn't out there as much. But now that my name is getting bigger I want to start using that as a platform, the UFC as a platform to get to these big chefs, to these big restaurants, and maybe when I'm travelling, doing different media stuff with the UFC, that I can maybe be like one of their chefs to go hop on, or go to different restaurants, and sightsee and tour, and taste different foods and uh, be some type of fighter in the chef type thing, you know what I'm saying. So that's something for the future but um, I got to start building it now. Because like I said, like I know I can't fight forever, I still got at least another five solid years of good fights in me but after that it's going to come quick so. I've already been in the UFC for five years, so five more years you know; I just want to have something after that.
CRAIG: Nice, um, tell everybody where we can find you, where we can follow you, um, you know that kind of stuff.
CHARLES: For sure, you guys can see I'm usually always have some type of food thing in my story, update on my fight, on Instagram or Twitter. So you guys can find me @charlesrosamma on Instagram and Twitter, or you guys can check out also my family's charity is ChuckysFight.com; it's a charity that my mom and dad started. My mom uh, Mary and my dad Chucky started to help educate teens on substance abuse, so it's chuckysfight.com, you guys can go on there and, you know, check it out. My dad jumps in the freezing cold ocean every single day.
CRAIG: Yeah, I wanted to talk to you about that. Your dad's the big guy with the moustache right?
CHARLES: Yeah, he doesn't have, I don't know if he has a moustache, but...
CRAIG: I thought he did but maybe not.
CHARLES: It might look like it, some days when he doesn't shave but he's uh, he's a beast, he jumps in the freezing cold ocean, and uh, he does it daily. He's up in Boston, New Hampshire area, and he's, and uh, he goes in when in it's snowing. Right there I think it's snowing right now and he jumps in every morning. And he does it, you know, pretty much every single morning so...
CRAIG: Some Lindhoff stuff there.
CHARLES: Yeah I think my dad is the new, I don't know the original one has been doing it for a while now but he's a, yeah, he's a G-man. It doesn't really affect him much and you know, he does it for a good cause, most of all. So it's not just, you know, it's for a good cause, the money that he's raised, hundreds of thousands of dollars to help kids get into the treatment centers is pretty amazing. So I'm, you know...
CRAIG: Cool that's awesome. So let me ask you. We're going to make a donation today to that also...
CHARLES: Oh I appreciate that.
CRAIG: ...and we're going to put up on this episode a link where other people could donate, so definitely go, you know, donate to that cause. He goes every day? You know, where does he live? Does he live off the water? Or tell me about...
CHARLES: Yeah, in New Hampshire on the beach. So he wakes up probably like five am every morning, drives his truck down there, he drives in barefoot, you know what I mean. He doesn't even wear shoes, or he might have, so he's walking around and uh, that's just how he does it. And you know everybody knows who he is, no one really bothers him, and he does his thing, and I think for him though it's mostly because like, my backstory, and you know, I lost my two older brothers, Dominic and Vincent, to accidental drug overdoses about ten years ago, you know, they were a year apart, but my dad's way in the beginning, before the charity ever started, to cope with it was we put their ashes in the ocean. So he would just go jump in every morning just, every day, because that was his way of, you know, like meditating, or coping, or dealing with it.
CHARLES: But then once he started doing it so much we were able to, he was able to, my mom was able to come up with the idea to start a charity to like help you know, kids that can't get into treatment centers, or educate teens on substance abuse. And like I said, the goal with Chucky's Fight is to help knock out substance abuse so, you know, my dad is pretty much, is the guy in charge and has been running the show and uh, he's helped thousands of people so.
CRAIG: Amazing. And it's amazing he goes in every day and that's just a routine, and it's probably really good for him, the cold.
CHARLES: Yeah, seriously.
CRAIG: Does he bring a towel and then towel off or get in the truck or what's his...?
CHARLES: Nah he don't even bring a towel, the water freezes to, it's so cold some days the water will freeze to the hair on his skin. Like literally, you can see frozen water on the skin and you know, it is what it is, I mean, I've had to do it with him. I've probably done it three to five times a year...
CRAIG: I've seen you do it with him. I've watched those videos.
CHARLES: It's absolutely, I mean it’s cold. I've been doing it for ten years, fifteen years now, since I was a little kid so yeah I mean it's...
CRAIG: Do you get used to it or does it still freeze your ass off every time?
CHARLES: Nah, I never get used to it. I mean, I know how to put a poker face on at this point, but it's, it still sucks every time, it's freezing.
CRAIG: So does he go in, dips, and leaves? Or does he- what's his routine? Is it a dip and a swim or?
CHARLES: It depends, I think like, like if it's, just say its thirty degrees out, and the water's calm and it's not like windy, he'll stay in the water for a while, like, and that's freezing, like thirty degrees is technically freezing, but the water doesn't freeze obviously because of the salt. But if it's like, you know, negative two degrees out and it's friggin' snow storming he just jumps in and out, you know, so it depends on, depends on it. But I've seen him sitting out there in the cold water that I can't even put my toe in, and he'll sit in it for you know, twenty thirty minutes.
CRAIG: Wow. Amazing. Well it's a great cause, we're going to donate to that.
CHARLES: I appreciate it.
CRAIG: I went to prep school one year in New Hampshire, and played hockey, and we had an outdoor rink, so if anybody knows how cold it gets out east out there, I mean, it's, it's cold. So I, to jump in, that's amazing, but that's inspiring, and um.
CHARLES: Where did you go? To Exeter?
CRAIG: New, uh, New Hampton.
CHARLES: Okay cool yeah.
CRAIG: You hear of New Hampton School?
CHARLES: No, maybe it's a little further North in New Hampshire. But yeah, like I know Phillips Exeter Academy that's close to my house but...
CRAIG: Yeah, Exeter, I think there was Brewster Academy up there was another one up there, and, there's a few different ones. But it was a good experience out east...
CHARLES: I used to have fights with those kids in Lacrosse and Hockey so, we'd play the Exeter kids.
CRAIG: I know I got in a fight myself sophomore year of High School too, it was, tough kids, it was a good experience and, it was great talking to you man, thanks for coming on.
CHARLES: Appreciate you man.
CRAIG: I'm going to cut out just because we only have a certain amount of time, and the next show I want to do with you, we'll do it after your fight. I'd love to do a cooking show, so...
CHARLES: Awesome yeah,
CRAIG: So maybe figure out a way someone could record you and you could walk us through how to prepare a meal. A lot of people at home, especially now, that don't know shit about cooking...
CRAIG: ...would love to learn, and love to learn how to make something simple but great. You know so we should do that.
CHARLES: Yeah let’s do it, let’s do it man. I'm actually yeah; I started a thing with the UFC where we were going to start doing that too so we'll have the setup good by then so.
CRAIG: Awesome, love it man. Thanks for coming on, good luck in your fight; we'll talk to you soon.
CHARLES: No problem man, later.
CRAIG: Alright thanks, see ya.
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