|CES MMA XXV: Unbeaten Rosa rolls the dice
By way of Doghouse Boxing (July 14, 2014)
Unbeaten Rosa rolls the dice vs. heavy-handed vet Gonzalez on undercard of CES MMA XXV.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (July 14th, 2014) – The opportunity to spoil someone else’s homecoming might mean more to Nick Gonzalez at this stage in his career than a trip to the big show or a lucrative endorsement deal.
With no major promoter behind him, or any sort of buzz on the fight scene back home in Austin, Tex., the 33-year-old Gonzalez is often forced to take his show on the road, fighting in someone else’s backyard in front of a one-sided crowd.
What might drive others to do something else with their spare time actually motivates Gonzalez, who continues to grind despite no opportunity with the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) or any other major promotion looming on the horizon. There’s more to it for Gonzalez than the notoriety.
“I just fight because I love it,” he said.
Out of action for almost a year, Gonzalez (18-12, 6 KOs) will return to face unbeaten featherweight Charles Rosa (8-0, 3 KOs) on the undercard of “CES MMA XXV” live on AXS TV Friday, Aug. 8th, 2014 at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I.
The live network broadcast also features the return of Providence’s Luis Felix, who will face for The Ultimate Fighter contestant Julian Lane for the vacant CES MMA lightweight title in the five-round main event. Tickets for “CES MMA XXV” are on sale now at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesmma.com or www.twinriver.com or by phone at 401-724-2253/2254. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Rosa, a Peabody, Mass., native who now trains out of American Top Team in Florida and continues fighting regionally, is rolling the dice putting his unbeaten record on the line against Gonzalez. A self-proclaimed “bad ass” with tremendous confidence in his striking ability, Gonzalez has more than 30 fights under his belt, including stints with Bellator and Strikeforce, in addition to a 2007 bout against 20-time UFC vet Yves Edwards, who now trains with Rosa.
“I know [Gonzalez] is a slick boxer who throws a lot of strong combos, but I also feel like that’s one of my strengths,” Rosa said. “I’ve sparred with some of the best boxers on the planet and have never had an issue. That’s what he’s best at, but I’m also really good at everything else.”
Rosa agreed to face Gonzalez at the behest of his manager, Charles McCarthy, a three-time UFC vet who’s guided him since the beginning of his amateur career. The 27-year-old featherweight has pushed the envelope with each fight, slowly climbing the ladder against tougher competition. After beating eight-time Bellator vet and submission specialist Brylan Van Artsdalen in March, Rosa will now switch gears against the heavy-handed Gonzalez.
“I trust Charles. He’s been with me since Day 1. He took me off the streets when I didn’t even have a car,” Rosa said. “The big reason he got into management was because of me. He’s always felt I could be a world champion.”
With nine professional boxing matches on his resume as well (three wins and two draws), Gonzalez has the punching power and footwork to spoil Rosa’s latest homecoming. Aug. 8th will be Rosa’s fifth fight in Rhode Island, where he studied to be a culinary chef at Providence’s Johnson & Wales University.
“Over the course of a 15-minute fight, I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done. I’m always confident, and I will eventually hit you,” Gonzalez said.
“And when I hit you, one of two things will happen. You’ll either fall down or you’ll think twice about why you’re fighting me in the first place. I have a lot of confidence in my ability.”
Gonzalez and Rosa have traveled two different career paths to get to this point. Rosa is the young, can’t-miss prospect with dreams of one day fighting for the UFC while Gonzalez has earned his stripes “beating up” the hometown fighters as the road-weary veteran. It’s gotten to the point where regional fighters in Gonzalez’s neck of the woods have gone to great lengths to avoid facing him, forcing him to take tougher fights elsewhere.
“Nowadays, guys want to be hometown heroes, sell a bunch of tickets and build their records,” he said. “At some point, you have to face a fighter like me. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I’m good enough to fight in the UFC, but I’m not signed to a big company like the UFC.
“[The UFC] isn’t what it used to be,” he continued. “Now they’re just looking for the next big thing, guys who are 7-0, 8-0 with no relevant fights. If I knew that’s what I had to do, I would’ve padded my record years ago, but I have big balls and a big heart. I’m an old school guy, way before my time.”
Beneath the tough talk and gritty exterior, Gonzalez genuinely respects Rosa as a “hard worker,” one of the few up-and-comers in the featherweight division willing to face him.
“He’s young and hungry,” Gonzalez said, “and those are the kind of challenges I accept.”
The way Rosa sees it, facing someone like Gonzalez is the only way he can reach heights Gonzalez – and others – never reached. A former hockey standout in high school, Rosa always dreamed of being a professional athlete, but gravitated more toward the ice rinks than the MMA gyms as a teenager.
“Once I got to [Johnson & Wales] and scrimmaged against the Providence Bruins and other professional teams, I realized it was a different level,” he said. “I was always more of a tough guy – gritty – but I didn’t have that natural touch, the soft hands. I wasn’t a goal-scorer.
“Fighting was always better for me. You can really dig in and use your heart more.”
Rosa eventually made the seamless transition from hockey to MMA and is now one of the hottest fighters in his weight class with seven of his eight career wins coming by submission or knockout in the first round. The ultimate goal is to advance to the sport’s biggest stage, but not without challenging himself Aug. 8th against a throwback fighter with nothing to gain other than respect.
“It’s exciting to be a part of this event and see yourself on TV, and see yourself on that big screen,” Rosa said. “It lets you know your dreams are coming true. Everyone wants to see that someday. I always wanted that as a kid growing up.”
In addition to the Felix-Lane main event, “CES MMA XXV” also features the return of Brazilian lightweight Gil de Freitas (16-5, 5 KOs) of Ludlow, Mass., in a three-round bout against Sherman’s Dale, Pa., vet Darrell Horcher (9-1, 4 KOs). Middleweight Chip Moraza Pollard (8-6, 3 KOs) of Plymouth, Mass., looks to build off his win in March when he faces Harley Beekman (6-2, 3 KOs) of Amsterdam, N.Y.; and fan-favorite Tateki Matsuda (8-4, 3 KOs) of Boston returns to face Robbie Leroux (5-2, 4 KOs) of Fall River, Mass., in a bantamweight bout.
Also on the undercard, Providence welterweight Eric Spicely (4-0, 1 KO) puts his undefeated record on the line against 37-fight veteran Nuri Shakir of Nashua, N.H.; Providence lightweight Keenan Raymond (2-0) battles Jay Bakanowski (1-1) of Northboro, Mass.; welterweight Tommy Venticinque (1-1) of Warwick, R.I., faces newcomer Wayne Alhquist of Nashua; and flyweight Billy Giovanella (5-1, 2 KOs) faces Andy Aiello (3-1, 2 KOs) of Bridgewater, Mass. Middleweights Raphael Correia (2-1) of Danbury, Conn., and Terrell Clark (1-1, 1 KO) of Framingham, Mass., battle in a three-round bout and East Providence, R.I., welterweight Nate Andrews (6-0, 3 KOs) will be featured in a separate three-round bout.
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