Following a first-round submission win over Manny Ramirez at UFC on ESPN 6 last October, featherweight Charles Rosa was looking to continue his momentum into 2020, and though delayed, he will finally get that opportunity.
Originally slated to face Bryce Mitchell on the May 2 UFC on ESPN+ 32 event that was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Rosa will now instead have that fight a week later as part of the revamped UFC 249.
“It’s been a little crazy more like mentally, but I’ve still been training normally like the fight is on,” Rosa told MMAWeekly.com. “As far as the whirlwind (surrounding the coronavirus) and stuff, I’m just trying to stay focused, training hard, doing what I’ve got to do, because I’m expecting the fight to happen.”
With the news of events being canceled, then happening, and possibly canceled again, it’s understandable that it can be difficult for a fighter to maintain focus. For Rosa, it’s not so much an issue as he’s able to put all of himself into his training with some reassurance from the UFC itself.
“It’s a little bit tough, but when I’m in training camp I sometimes don’t even know what day it is because I’m so focused (on training),” said Rosa. “I’m just training, eating healthy, and the world around me just kind of blurs.
“We did have a conference call with Dana White and the fighters on the card, and he assured us that everything was going to be okay and healthy, and we were going to be safe going there, and if there were going to be any issues to call and stuff. He gave us quite a bit of confidence that things are getting better at this point.”
On May 9 in Florida, Rosa (12-3) will look to have his first bout of 2020 when he faces Bryce Mitchell (12-0) in a preliminary 145-pound bout at UFC 249. The preliminary fight card is slated for three and a half hours and will air on ESPN, leading up to the ESPN+ pay-per-view main card.
“This is a fight that I asked for,” Rosa said. “I’ve watched (Mitchell) fight before, and I think he’s a super tough, talented kid, and he has a lot of skills. But I’ve fought some of the best guys on the planet, and he’s yet to do so. The first one he’s really run into is me. I don’t think he’s fought anybody with my experience.”
While there remains uncertainty to the future of MMA in 2020, Rosa is maintaining his goals and knows exactly where he wants to take his career.
“As usual, my goal is by the end of 2020 to be in the Top 10, and then by next year looking for a title,” said Rosa. “I take out Bryce and hopefully get another turnaround against another top guy.
“I know where my skills are. I know where I’m at. I know what I’m capable of. I’m going to keep the ball rolling on Bryce Mitchell, put a good string together until I get a top guy and I’m able to shine.”