Zuhosky’s Take #12: Rosta Primed to Become Bellator’s Next Big Star

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If you watched the undercard of Bellator MMA’s most recent event, Bellator 273, you no doubt saw an up-and-coming fighter by the name of Dalton Rosta (6-0-0 MMA, 6-0-0 Bellator.)

In short, Dalton Rosta’s MMA story to this point is pretty amazing if thought about– but first, we’ve got to go back in time.

Rosta’s Wrestling Career At Seton Hill Yields to Brief Stint on Gridiron

Upon graduating Laurel High School in New Castle, PA, Rosta, posted a 62-13 record in high school wrestling. Dalton Rosta signed his national letter of intent with Seton Hill University, three years removed from his stint as a runner-up in the state championship in Arizona.

At the Clarion Open in Clarion, PA, Rosta began what would prove to be his only season on the Seton Hill wrestling team by getting three victories during that tournament.

All told, the future Bellator middleweight posted a 23-4 record on the mat before leaving Seton Hill and transferring to Youngstown State University, an institution of higher learning whose notable alumni include actor Ed O’Neill, longtime NFL placekicker Paul McFadden, former Philadelphia Eagles great Ron Jaworski, and myself.

Dalton Rosta joined YSU’s football program (YSU has no wrestling program) ahead of the 2015 season, the first for the provocative and controversial Bo Pelini as the Penguins’ head coach, as a linebacker– but the redshirt freshman ultimately wound up never taking any snaps for the red and white of Youngstown State at Stambaugh Stadium. He departed the program to concentrate on his studies while also beginning to train for his MMA career– before his life changed forever.

Rosta Inspired to Honor Father’s Legacy After Death

In 2016, after Dalton Rosta left the YSU football program, his father, Paul, was killed in a motorcycle accident at just 47 years of age, passing away from his injuries while in a Pittsburgh emergency room.

Paul Rosta’s death was later ruled accidental, as per the autopsy.

The circumstances surrounding the elder Rosta’s passing, coupled with the timing of the younger Rosta’s early training in MMA, added fuel to Dalton’s fire as he set out to compete in the cage.

“It was a tough time,” Rosta told The New Castle News in a 2019 interview with the newspaper.

“We were very close. He got me started in my wrestling career and was always there for me. He fought and fought but after a lot of surgeries and complications that arose from it, he went into organ failure. From the moment he died, I dedicated every moment of my training and every fight to my dad. I do everything in his memory now.”

Rosta Undefeated in Amateur Ranks, Leading to Bellator Calling

Since the passing of his father, Dalton Rosta has yet to lose across all competitions, going 7-0 in the amateur ranks to begin his MMA career, with all seven of his victories coming via knockout or TKO from March of 2017 to October of 2018.

His amateur finale in October of 2018 ended in a third-round knockout due to punches against current UFC fighter Cody Brundage.

In February of 2019, Dalton Rosta turned pro when he signed with Bellator MMA, making his first appearance for the promotion on the March 29, 2019, Bellator 219 card, defeating Cody Vidal (first-round TKO). Rosta injured Vidal’s knee just 68 seconds into the contest.

Rosta kept up his stoppage streak during his next two Bellator appearances, finishing Claude Wilcox (second-round knockout due to ground and pound shots) in Bellator 231 and scoring a first-round TKO against Mark Gardner in Bellator 243.

All of Dalton Rosta’s subsequent fights have ended in victories by decision, most recently against Duane Johnson, who has no relation to actor Dwayne Johnson, though both men share “The Rock” as a nickname, in Bellator 273.

Rosta’s Wrestling Slowed Johnson Down in Bellator 273

That night, Rosta again turned to his Greco-Roman wrestling background to give him the victory.

When a fighter is able to spend the majority of a round on the top position and pepper his opponent with ground and pound shots before taking the back mount later in the round, thus accumulating ground control time, that, ladies and gentlemen, is the moment when a winnable fight becomes a won fight on the scorecards in case of a decision.

During round two, Duane Johnson was rendered helpless by Dalton Rosta’s ground game, and by the time the final bell tolled in that undercard fight, Rosta had accumulated four minutes and 21 seconds of ground control time, compared to a mere six seconds for Johnson.

One Final Salvo in the Rosta/ Johnson War of Words

After the fight, Rosta, donning a game-worn jersey of his friend, former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, got in the final blow in a war of words versus Duane Johnson.

“I’m not surprised. I watch his fights,” Rosta said. “He (Johnson) comes out that way every single time, and he’s a very cocky individual– not cocky in a good way. Not the type of guy that you like, like somebody like Conor McGregor. Cocky, street thug-type of personality. Didn’t like it at all.”

Rosta Achieves No. 7 Ranking and Scores New Contract

Following Dalton Rosta’s latest triumph, he finds himself in a tie for the No. 7 contender at middleweight in Bellator MMA with Lorenz Larkin.

On Feb. 11, Rosta took to Instagram to announce that he’d signed a new multi-fight contract with the combat sports promotion, one that will see him remain on the Bellator roster for the foreseeable future.

Final Thoughts and a Prediction for Rosta’s Future

Now that Dalton Rosta is a ranked fighter in Bellator, it seems fair to gather that he’s now in the mix for a shot at the Bellator MMA Middleweight Championship in as little as a few fights if he keeps up his winning ways.

Bellator MMA has its next big star on its hands, especially now that Dalton Rosta is locked into the promotion for the next several years– and by this time next year, he may very well be the champion in Bellator at 185 lbs.

In closing, the spirit of Dalton Rosta’s late father has smiled down on his son from heaven ever since his MMA career began nearly five years ago.

Just imagine what Paul Rosta would be saying to his son if he were still alive today and how proud he would be of Dalton Rosta if he were still alive to see his son thriving as a fighter.

One more thing: If you haven’t been rooting for Dalton Rosta already, you should definitely be rooting for him now. This is a man who has been able to successfully turn the tragedy of the death of his father into the triumph inside an MMA cage.

Follow me on Twitter at @DrewZuhosky to see my latest work. Follow us on social media at @OTHeroicsMMA to stay tuned in with our content!

Featured Image Credits to Bellator MMA

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about MMA since the spring of 2018. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew enjoys a good game and an even better fight. When he's not writing, you can find him playing video games and listening to music.