SAN ANTONIO, TX, June 10, 2011 – It’s been a long road towards UFC 131 for San Antonio resident and native Texan Aaron Rosa.
Fighting professionally since November of 2005, Aaron got his start in professional MMA with Saul Soliz’ Renegades Extreme Fighting promotion. Fighting mainly in Houston for six or his first eight bouts, Rosa rose to the level of winning a light heavyweight championship prior to taking his talents out of state in early 2007.
Since then, Rosa has fought for EliteXC, Bellator, and Strikeforce while amassing a 16-3 record. He most recently beat former Ultimate Fighter cast member Abe Wagner at Titan FC 17 as a precursor to getting signed to the UFC himself.
Aaron Rosa is set for his debut tomorrow night at UFC 131 in Vancouver, Canada in a bout that will be aired on the Facebook/YouTube underard.
Earlier this week, Rosa spoke to TXMMA.com to share more about his background fighting here in Texas and talk a little bit about his preparations for Saturday’s showdown with Joey Beltran.
Aaron, let’s start off by talking about your history here in Texas MMA. When did you start fighting?
I began fighting in 2004 as an amateur in Louisiana and Houston. I started my career at the Renegades Extreme Fighting shows for Saul Soliz in Houston. I had my first six or seven fights there and was also the Renegades light heavyweight champion so that’s how everything started. It wasn’t too far away and it was a chance for me to compete back then.
What was it like fighting back then?
It was cool man. It was a lot different because back then, you’d just go drive two hours, pick up a fight, and get $200 or $300… I think the gas cost more than what we actually made but it was a good experience and a lot of fun. I trained so I wanted to see what I could do with it, you know what I mean? Had I lost those first couple of fights, I might have stopped a long time ago but fortunately I kept winning so I wanted to keep going more.
Now you’re up in San Antonio training at Rodrigo Pinheiro’s with Pete Spratt. Who else are you training with?
Yes, I’m training with Rodrigo and Pete and those guys. Bobby Southworth also recently moved down here to San Antonio so he’s been helping me. I’m also training with Richard Odoms, who’s a heavyweight fighter that has a couple of fights here in Texas. He’s helping me out too. Rudy Hernandez, my strength and conditioning coach is also getting me ready. There are a lot of people helping me out here, actually.
Have you always lived in San Antonio area?
I was actually born in Del Rio, near the border. I grew up there and went to high school there. Then I moved to San Angelo to go to school and play football. After those years was when I moved to San Antonio. I’ve always been in Texas though. Born and raised here and plan to die here. I love Texas!
Looking forward to Saturday, has it helped that you and your teammate Pete Spratt both have fights on the same weekend?
Well he had his fight scheduled a long ago so I’d already been helping him with his fight preparation. I got the call for myself about four weeks ago so it helped that I had already been training, helping get Pete ready, sparring and stuff like that. Between the end of my fight against Abe Wagner and the time I got the call, I’d been in the gym working. The only bad thing with the schedule is that Pete and I won’t be able to corner each other. He’s the one that usually corners me but it’ll be alright. I’ve got Kyle Curtis coming with me this time and he used to go with me to all my fights until I started training with Pete so it will be okay.
Let’s talk about your fight with Abe Wagner at Titan FC for a second. Going in to that fight, Abe was known for just KO’ing Tim Sylvia, who was a former UFC Heavyweight Champion. Then you went out there and beat him. How did that play into you getting your UFC shot?
Yeah, before that fight he knocked out Sylvia in like 10 or 15 seconds, something like that. I just went in there and tried to take over the fight, you know what I mean. I beat him up for the whole first round and then I dropped him in the second and got the submission. I guess with that, I got all the hype that he was receiving and that opened the door to the UFC. Abe was on the Ultimate Fighter show before and he’s a big guy who’s got the look but you know… that all goes out the window because eventually you have to go in there and fight so I guess it’s my time now.
How do you feel right now with your UFC debut just a few days away?
I feel awesome man. I’m doing what I always wanted to do, you know what I mean. This is the reason I got into fighting, to get into the UFC, so yeah I’m excited. BUT… the point is not just to get there, it’s to go in and do well. I have a long road ahead of me and this weekend is just the first of my goals.
Any jitters different than any other fight week?
No, not really. I’m sure it’ll feel different when I get there but right now I’m still distracted. I have my baby and my wife here so it’s pretty much normal life still. I train, I come home, do what I have to do… I’m taking care of my daughter, hanging out with my wife, and the usual stuff so I’m fine. Maybe when I fly over there to Canada I’ll start getting nervous but right now, everything is good and I’m just happy with where I’m at in life.
You’ll be fighting Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran at UFC 131. What are your thoughts on him as opponent?
He’s tough. When I think of him, that’s all I think. I haven’t seen anything where he’s got a super-strong strength at any one thing. He’s just flat-out tough. I’ve never seen a guy get kicked in the head so many times and just keep coming. I think I might be faster than him and my boxing might be more technical. I should be better than he is but he’s tough so I’ve got to bring my lunchbox and go to work so I can get my hand raised at the end.
Beltran has lost 2 in a row going into this fight. A third loss could send him out of the UFC while you’re fighting your way in. How will that play into this fight?
I think we’re both fighting for something so it’s going to make it a better fight. I want to make a good impression and out on a good show while he might technically be fighting for his job. We don’t know that for sure but that could be the case. It’s going to make for an exciting fight. I’m sure he doesn’t want to go out like that and I don’t to go in and lose so we’re both going to go out there and fight our best.
What are going to need to do to win? Is there anything specific?
I saw his fights with Rolles Gracie, Matt Mitrione, and Pat Barry so maybe there are a few things I can take advantage of… I see maybe a couple of little things I can do. I don’t really see too many huge weaknesses. What do you with a guy that gets kicked in the face and keeps coming forward, you know what I mean? I just have to go in there and fight. He’ll bring it to me. He’s going to put his head down, come after me, and throw those big bombs, so I’ve got to move out of the way and pick my shots. I’ve got to be first, I’ve got to outmaneuver him, pick my shots, and outbox the guy. After awhile, if I keep hitting him in the head, he’s going to go down.
Well we certainly wish you like Aaron. Any last words for your fans here in Texas?
Oh man, I just want to say thank you for all the support and everything – especially the people here in San Antonio, the people out there in Houston, and all of Texas. I love Texas, this is where I was born and raised and this is where I’m going to die so I love y’all so much and I’m going to go out there to Canada and bring the victory back here.
Any sponsors you want to thank?
Yes, two of them. I’d like to thank my wife and my baby girl. They’re my life.
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