Charles Rosa moved to South Florida from Boston some five years ago already knowing his way around the kitchen. What the culinary school grad didn’t know, until meeting a man nicknamed “Chainsaw,” was that he also had a potential career in the octagon.

But after seeing his soon-to-be-protégé in the gym, Charles “Chainsaw” McCarthy—former Ultimate Fighting Championship contender and owner of the American Top Team mixed martial arts facility in Boynton Beach—sensed Rosa was a natural, despite having no real fighting experience.

“You really have a future in this,” McCarthy told Rosa. “Chainsaw” wasn’t kidding. Today, after a sparkling amateur career during which he claimed four different belts, the lightweight contender is off to a 3-0 start as a professional—with all three fights ending in the first round.

In addition to fighting, training and winning, Rosa also is a chef at Cut432 in Delray Beach. He attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Providence, R.I., and cooking continues to be one of his passions.

But after signing a five-fight contract with Championship Fighting Alliance, Rosa may need a few nights off from kitchen duty. Upcoming dates and opponents are expected to be announced in August and will be posted online, as Rosa continues to train and prepare for his next match.

“I am willing to learn and keep learning, and I’m not going to ever stop learning, and that’s what’s going to bring me to the top,” says the 26-year-old, who trains at American Top Team’s main gym in Coconut Creek.

Rosa has the right people in his corner. Some of his biggest role models are his trainer Charles McCarthy, whom Rosa admires for his dedication to home and family, along with trainer Matt Welch, who was also his wrestling coach.

The training schedule for an up-and-coming MMA fighter is “very rigorous,” Rosa says. “I train two-three times a day, six days a week, with Sunday being my off day. That’s actually the hardest day for me, because the six days training is what I enjoy doing. I train as much as my body allows me to, making sure I also get proper rest and diet in there as well.”

What sets Rosa apart from other lightweights in the industry is his open mind and willingness to broaden his combat horizons. He travels throughout the country and around the world to train with top fighters in their specific genres of martial arts. “I just came back from a training camp in South Carolina training with Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, one of the best UFC strikers I’ve ever seen in my life, and Georges St-Pierre, who is actually a karate-based fighter,” he says. “I also got to go to Holland to train with the Dutch doing kickboxing and then Amsterdam, stayed there for about a month.”

Rosa does not limit himself to strictly boxing, wrestling, or jiu-jitsu, and is eager to train in all facets of fighting. “I try to get the best of everything,” Rosa says.

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