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‘Boston Strong’ Charles Rosa looks to best Jimy Hettes for the hometown fans

Charles Rosa previews his January 17th fight with Jimy Hettes at UFC Fight Night: Dillashaw vs. Cruz. ‘Boston Strong’ also talks about training at ATT, his use of IVs, and his family’s work to combat substance abuse.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

American Top Team product Charles ‘Boston Strong' Rosa returns home on January 17th to take on Jimy ‘The Kid' Hettes at UFC Fight Night: Dillashaw vs. Cruz.

Though Rosa respects his opponent's skills and toughness, he believes he possesses one key advantage over his fellow featherweight. "I think I'm a lot more athletic than him," Rosa told Bloody Elbow. Rosa believes this athleticism advantage will translate to practically all areas of the fight, particularly in the scramble. "[Athleticism] adds explosiveness to scrambles," said Rosa. "That one millisecond is sometimes the difference between getting on top and being on the bottom. [Hettes] is a big scrambler, but I've seen him have trouble with athletic guys."

Rosa, who possesses a one-hundred-percent finish-rate in his ten pro victories, also believes both Hettes' striking and wrestling are suspect, though he does praise his opponent's judo abilities. Hettes himself has finished all but one of his eleven pro victories, each by submission. Despite this impressive resume, Rosa rejects the possibility of being tapped on January 17th.

When it comes to submission defense, the Beantown native states, "That's one of the things I pride myself on."  Rosa cites a baptism of fire at American Top Team as the reason why he rates his sub defence so highly. "I walked into a jiu jitsu martial arts gym with guys like Charles "Chainsaw" McCarthy and Cole Miller," said Rosa. "I was going in on the mat as a white belt with them, and before I knew how to do the submissions - guillotines, triangles, Peruvian neckties - all these cool moves, I was learning to defend against them.

"In my head it's impossible for [Hettes] to go in there and submit me, and that's how he gets all of his wins, so I think that's where he's gonna run into a problem. If he's fishing for something like that, it's gonna be a tough day for him."

In preparation for his upcoming fight Rosa has drilled Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a discipline he loves, more than usual. In previous fights Rosa claims his training was more wrestling dominant, compensating for his lack of a wrestling background. With his wrestling now elevated Rosa feels more freedom to further develop his BJJ game. On the feet, Rosa has worked to better control distance - something he feels he lacked in his previous outing against the surging Yair Rodriguez.

Rosa states his most recent training sessions at ATT have been buoyed due to the success of teammates Dustin Poirier and Robbie Lawler at last weekend's UFC 195. On January 4th ATT opened its new training facility and Rosa reveals that both Poirier and Lawler were in attendance. ‘Ruthless' Robbie Lawler wasn't just there to check out the new digs though. "He's in there going to work already," said Rosa on the 4th. "[Lawler]'s a true champion, to see him back to work so soon after such a slugfest, after such an amazing fight, that's pretty inspiring."

My last fight, I thought I won, I fought Yair Rodriguez, and I lost a split decision in Mexico to a Mexican so... -Charles Rosa

Rosa is currently 1-2 in the UFC. Some would suggest a loss to Hettes could mean curtains on his current run in the promotion, but Rosa disagrees. "I don't see much pressure on myself going into this fight," said Rosa. "I've never been disappointed with any of my performances. My last fight, I thought I won, I fought Yair Rodriguez, and I lost a split decision in Mexico to a Mexican so... I got Fight Of The Night for it; it was a really close fight.

"I finished the guy before that - Sean Soriano - and the fight before that in the UFC, Denis Siver, I took on five days notice. I fought a top ten guy in the world and got Fight Of The Night too, I haven't had any bad performances that would put me [in a position to be cut]."

For the Siver fight Rosa claims he had to cut thirty-three pounds in five days. Despite the UFC having an IV ban now in place Rosa is confident of safely competing at 145lbs. "I went to culinary school at Johnson & Wales University and I got a degree in culinary arts and was a candidate for a degree in nutrition, so I think I'm a little bit ahead of the curve in that. I know how to diet, I know nutrition, I cook the right meals for myself, so my weight is always good.

"I've fought at 145 two or three times in my career before I ever used IVs, I didn't start using IVs until I got to the UFC. So, I don't think it will be much of an issue."

After spending most of 2015 not competing (which baffles Rosa since he was healthy and urging for a fight) ‘Boston Strong' hopes to be much more active in 2016. "My goal is to go undefeated this year," said Rosa, who wants four fights in the next twelve months. Rosa believes if he reaches his goal he'll be a top ten featherweight in 2017.

Outside the cage Rosa joins his family in an entirely different type of fight. "When I was fifteen and seventeen years old I lost my two older brothers to drug overdoses," said Rosa. "So my dad went along and started a charity called Chucky's Fight dedicated to help fight substance abuse." For the charity, Rosa's father (Chucky) travels to schools to talk to teens about the dangers of drug abuse. The elder Rosa also engages in sponsored dives into the freezing Atlantic Ocean to raise money to send young addicts to treatment centers. To learn more about Chucky's Fight, or to make a donation, you can visit the links below.

Chucky's Fight official website

Chucky's Fight on Facebook

You can follow Charles Rosa on Twitter @CharlesRosaMMA.