‘Boston Strong’: A lot of elevation, jet leg can be beat mentally

Thursday, September 21, 2017

After losing to Shane Burgos in April, UFC featherweight Charles Rosa channeled his frustration right back into training even as he got some fun travel in. “I pretty much went right back into training,” he recently told Mike Dyce and myself on The Extra Rounds podcast.

“Obviously I wasn’t real happy with the result of the last one even though I got the fight of the night bonus. It was a little bit bittersweet. The ref stopped the fight when I was still on my feet, and it was kind of disappointing.

“I actually got to go out and visit one of my buddies over at Team Alpha Male, Matt Wagy. I got to go to Sacramento for a couple weeks and get some training out there.”

The fighter and chef also fit some drives down California’s coast with sight-seeing and food-tasting into the weeks following his last bout before heading back home to South Florida and his American Top Team super-squad. Rosa is well-acquainted with traveling to train, having flown all across the U.S., Europe, and Asia to get different looks on the mats and in the ring.

This week Rosa is on the road, so to speak, again as he takes on Mizuto Hirota in the veteran star’s native Japan at UFC Fight Night 117. For the “Boston Strong” 31-year-old, fighting so far away from home isn’t a chore – it’s a dream, come true.

“Yeah, absolutely man. For me, it is one of those things where ever since I was a kid watching Pride, watching other events or even watching movies like Bloodsport, it’s always been a dream of mine to go to the far-East, especially Japan,” he explained.

“It’s one of those things on the bucket list, and I’m going to get to cross it off. I’m going to go there and do things I love – travel, fight, eat food. I hear the food’s pretty amazing and I’m really looking forward to getting over there, getting in the cage, getting the win, and getting to represent.”

Rosa – who made his UFC debut a couple years ago on short-notice in Europe – is accustomed to managing training camps, weight-cuts, and all the rest with long and often disruptive travel to bouts. While it isn’t uncommon for American fighters to shrink away from international fight dates because of all the added difficulties they entail, Rosa’s whole life seems a cinematic throwback in that it’s all about traveling the world looking for the toughest fights.

The globe-trekking warrior then has no time for worrying about things others do. Rosa will fight on his opponent’s home turf Saturday, after having to travel much further to get there, with more disrupted sleep, training, etc.

Still, Rosa sees only opportunity. To him, there’s little downside to being a plane-hopping bad-ass.

“I’m a good traveler. I do a good job sleeping on the plane. Time differences never really messed with me. I’ve been to Thailand before and it never really messed with me at all,” he begins, before summarily dismissing commonly-held notions.

“A lot of that stuff, travel, elevation – I’ve fought at high elevation in Mexico City – I think a lot of that is mental. If you believe it’s going to affect you, if you believe, ‘Oh, I’m used to sparring at 11 am, and I’m going to be fighting at 12 o’clock at night…’ if you let that get into your head, yeah, it’s going to affect you.”

“For me, I’m mentally strong. I go in there and I know what I’ve got to do and I know my opponent is dealing with the same types of things. For me, it’s nothing. Once the cage door locks, I’m going to be ready to roll.”

About the author:
Elias Cepeda is a host of Sports Illustrated’s Extra Rounds Podcast, a staff writer at FloCombat, and has a weekly column for The UG Blog.

elias cepeda