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Contender Series: Rico DiSciullo Looking to Follow in Footsteps of Friend Charles Rosa

Through chance, or maybe even destiny, UFC featherweight Charles Rosa and CES MMA‘s Rico DiSciullo (9-1) have had quite the interesting friendship. Rosa’s older brother, who tragically died of a heroin overdose, was DiSciullo’s best friend growing up.

Losing two sons to drug overdoses, Rosa’s parents wanted to make sure Charles didn’t find himself going down that same, dark road.

“Charles started following that path,” recalled DiSciullo in an interview with MMA Today. “His parents moved him down to Florida to completely shut off everyone from contacting him. I didn’t even have contact with him. I wasn’t into that type of stuff, but we all had similar friends.”

With Rosa in Florida and DiSciullo in Massachusetts, the two fell out of touch. They wouldn’t talk for almost two years. Sometimes, however, things all happen for a greater reason.

In the meantime, DiSciullo’s childhood love for karate propelled him towards the idea of competing in mixed martial arts.

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One day while jogging through Somerville, Massachusetts, DiSciullo came across renowned muay thai gym Sityodtong. It was a beautiful summer day and the gym doors were open. DiSciullo strolled in to see what it was all about.

“I walked in and was like, oh man, I have to at least come through here,” remembered DiSciullo. “I wasn’t familiar with muay thai, but it was more of a fighting style than karate. I was instantly hooked on it.”

A couple years into DiSciullo’s tenure with Sityodtong, he received a call from an old friend.

“We hadn’t seen each other for about two years,” explained DiSciullo. “Charles finally got straight and sober, and started getting back into contact with people. He hits me up and is like ‘we have to link up’.”

“I was like, ‘I’ve been training up at this gym in Boston. You should probably get into it’.” recalled DiSciullo. “He’s like, yeah right, I’ve been training down in Florida here at American Top Team in Florida.

“We had no idea– we hadn’t had contact with each other for about two years,” laughed DiSciullo. “It was really one of those things that I felt like happened for a reason.”

Since that time, Rosa has competed five times in the UFC, going 2-3 in that stretch. Meanwhile, DiSciullo has torn it up on the New England regional scene, winning nine out of ten pro bouts. He’ll look to pick up his fourth straight victory this Tuesday night.

The 31-year-old Peabody native will be one of ten fighters competing for a potential UFC contract on the season opener of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.

In order to earn such contract, DiSciullo will have to beat undefeated Wisconsin bantamweight Montel Jackson (5-0), and do so emphatically.

“I’m going in there to completely do whatever I have to do to finish this fight in devastating fashion,” proclaimed DiSciullo. “I’m just trying to go out there and perform. I’m realistic– I know no matter how hard I train and try, anything can happen in there. As long as I train my absolute hardest and walk into that cage totally confident because I know I did everything I could do to win, that’s all that matters.”

While he is confident, DiSciullo is in no way, shape, or form taking Jackson for granted.

“He’s very tough and a big kid for the weight class with a really good wrestling pedigree,” said DiSciullo, of his fight night foe. “For the most part, he’s been a striker in MMA. He’s a southpaw.”

Outside of the basics, however, DiSciullo isn’t interested in watching too much tape on Jackson.

“I just try to get myself better and be able to adapt to anything,” said DiSciullo. “As much as you break down a fighter, when you see them in person, it doesn’t really relate as well compared to watching them on tape. I try to just get the main habits they do, and better myself from there. I think this is going to make for a fantastic fight. I think it could have happened in the UFC.”

After the two bantamweights exchange in Las Vegas, DiSciullo believes he will leave UFC President Dana White with no option other than to offer him a contract.

“Even if I tried to make my fights not exciting, they’d still be exciting,” laughed DiSciullo. “It’s just the way I fight. I throw a lot of different looks, and can’t help myself but to go for that fucking finish.”

When DiSciullo isn’t fighting, he enjoys golfing, camping, riding his off and on-road motorcycles, and spending time with his son. Having a happy time outside of the cage and a productive time inside, DiSciullo believes the best has yet to come.

“I feel like this is truly the beginning for me,” explained DiSciullo. “I’m just starting to figure it out and do things right. This has been a year or two where I’ve been doing things properly. I’ve been living a healthier lifestyle. It’s because of the people around me: my family and teammates at the gym. It’s mind, body, and soul all coming together.”

“Thank you to my family. My girlfriend is amazing. She sets up my meals and deals with me when I’m grumpy cutting my weight. Dieting isn’t the most fun time when you’re trying to get as much training in as you can. Thanks to teammates. They’re like my family. I’ve been at Sityodtong for maybe almost ten years. My coaches and my teammates —  we’re all real close. They know what I go through, even personally. We just try to make everyone better. Not just as a martial artist, but as a human being. I love that. Sityodtong has really developed me as a person as well as a martial artist.” – Rico



To learn more about Rico DiSciullo, follow him on social media:

Twitter: @RicoDiSciullo
Instagram: @ricodisciillo
Facebook: Rico DiSciullo


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Nolan King is a MMA Today senior columnist, writer and renowned MMA insider. Nolan's other freelance work can also be found on FloCombat, Tapology, and MMA Brasil.