Written by: Keith Mills

On February 12th Charles McCarthy takes on Sean Sallee in AFC. McCarthy is coming off a huge win against UFC vet Keith Rockel as well as participating in November?s Pride auditions in Los Angeles. He fights out of Freestyle Fighting Academy in Florida. KM: You are on your ninth opponent for the AFC card? CM: Ninth opponent. I haven?t spoken to any of the guys who were supposed to fight me. I think I?m in a weird spot where I have beaten good people and I?m a tough fight but I haven?t made it to UFC yet. People don?t feel like they are going to make a name off of beating me so it?s not worth the risk. They are not going to make a fortune fighting me. It?s a bad fight for a lot of people. Not that people are afraid of me, it?s just career-wise I?m a bad fight for them. Until I hit the next level I?m in a twilight zone area.KM: What do you think that next level is? CM: Gotta be UFC.KM: It seems like the two strategies are to either get a belt in a respected show like WEC and AFC or travel around and go after ?names? like Keith Wisniewski does. You have said you don?t want to be the king of the smaller shows. What is your strategy? CM: I know to get in I have to beat the right guys and keep a winning streak going. I don?t have the privilege of other guys from my team that have fought in the UFC. That automatically puts your foot in the door. I know by doing what I?ve been doing, fighting good guys, beating them impressively, and also all my wins I finish?things like that I think will get me in. I know they know who I am and are keeping any eye out on me so I need to make sure I keep my wins going.KM: You may not come from a team with UFC vets but you do come from a team where Marcos Avellan qualified for the ADCC Worlds which is arguably more difficult. How much of a factor do you think that is? CM: I don?t know that they follow grappling so closely. I?m very privileged to train with the guys I do, Marcos Avellan and Dave Avellan. They are phenomenal athletes, phenomenal grapplers. At the same time you see guys in the UFC based solely on the guys they train with fought in the UFC. When I get y UFC shot which I know is coming I?ll be opening the door for other guys from my team based off of that. I don?t have a problem with that, ultimately this is a business. You do business with your friends and friends of friends you have done successful business with in the past. When you have an opening you are going to turn to people you have worked with in the past. Short notice you aren?t going to go with a complete wild card. I can understand that and don?t have a problem with that. I know when I get my shot I will have earned it. KM: Denis Kang and Denis Hallman have recently joined the American Top Team. My assumption is you are staying with Marcos and wouldn?t join the ATT for career opportunities like you have just mentioned. CM: There is no chance of me jumping teams. They have brought me up from a baby. I owe them all my loyalty. They have showed so much patience and loyalty with me?I couldn?t ask for a better team to train with. Guys that are jumping teams, they have to do what they see is right for their career. I know Denis Kang had to move so he had to find a team. I think a lot of guys that switch teams it is because they have to switch locations. Fighting isn?t a career for most people to live off. If they relocate they have to find a new school. I don?t think switching teams would be beneficial to me or most guys at a high level. KM: I was recently watching one of the AFC videos and the announcer said you used to weigh 280. How long ago was that? CM: When I first started training in May ?01 I was in the 270s. I was at that weight for about six months. At the end of ?01 I had an amateur fight and wound up getting my MCL torn. I had thought I was way too heavy and after that I was like ?I don?t have to focus on anything else, I?m just going to focus on my diet?. Between six and ten months it took me to get the weight off. KM: What do you think of your opponent? CM: He just fought in Cage Rage and won his first fight. KM: Do you know anything about him? CM: I don?t know anything about him to be honest with you. His record is not so great but all the guys he fought were tough fights. If he fought all guys I had never seen before that would be one thing but he fought a few guys that were Heavyweights and some good guys. I think he needs somebody better to guide his career, he is taking only tough fights. KM: Does that affect your strategy at all? CM: With the Rockel fight I really wanted to stand and bang and that ended up not happening. Rockel was really good at getting the fight to the ground. I want a knockout on my record next week. We?ll see what happens. I can see myself letting him out of submissions to let him get back to his feet. I want to stand up and bang in this fight.KM: Do you feel a need to prove you have a good chin and can exchange? CM: Yeah, that and I like getting hit in the face. I think it is fun. KM: Has your training changed at all since the Keith Rockel fight? CM: I train almost all kickboxing since then. Going into that Rockel fight I was just in the right mindset. Going into this fight, being I didn?t even have the name of the guy I was fighting and here we are a week out from the fight it has been hard to focus my training. When I know who I am fighting I have a face to be angry at, a face to motivate me. I haven?t trained as hard as I had for Rockel and that is something I need to work on going into this fight. I?ve been training six days a week and putting in three to four hours a day but it is just a different type of training when I know who I am fighting. KM: How do you feel about six months from now people are going to look back at this fight and say ?he went from fighting Keith Rockel to fighting who?? as if it is a step backwards, especially with the AFC Middleweight belt on the same card between two other fighters? CM: I asked to fight for the AFC belt but its not my promotion, not my money. All I can do is ask and understand if an ATT guy is fighting for the belt. I don?t mind not fighting for the belt as long as I?m getting recognized for my fights. I think everyone knows when they go to AFC and see me fight who I am. I don?t think it matters if I have a belt around my waist. KM: I remember you talking before about you have come to an understanding with the ATT you wouldn?t fight them, that the goal is to bring in fighters from other areas and South Florida be a unified scene. In that sense how much have you considered traveling, like FFC for instance? CM: I?d love to get a shot in another promotion. For whatever reason things kept falling through. If I get an offer I might take the offer. I?m not under a contract with anybody. KM: How is the gym going? CM: Everything is good. FFA is probably doing better than it ever has. We?re introducing a new fighter in Georgia, John Mangual. I?m really excited the gym is taking off. KM: Sponsors to thank. CM: I?ve been with Rob and He?s been there for a lot of things, like the Pride trials and giving out tickets to kids for the next AFC. I?ve had other guys help me in the past but for this fight Rob has been my main sponsor.