Born an orphan in Cabedelo, Brazil he worked as a dish washer, often sleeping outside, on the street, and on beaches. He started training in martial arts at the age of six and eventually saved enough money to move to Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil.
In Fortaleza, he was taken in by Darcio Lira, from whom he learned Brazilian jiu-jitsu and earned his black belt. He have won around 50 regional tournaments in Brazil and Germany between 1996 and 2008 before turning professional in mixed martial arts.
He got his nickname "Tá Danado" (or "The Spaz") because of the herky-jerky way he moved around on the mat when working his jiu-jitsu. His coach would tell him "Hey kid, stop being so agitated (danado), stay calm." when he grappled. The term is meant to liken him to the cartoon character Taz.
In 2008 he traveled to Dresden as a cornerman of German MMA pioneer, Andre Balschmieter, for an 8-man tournament. When Balschmieter had to pull out due to injury Rocha elected to take his place. Because of numerous injuries, the tournament was dropped to four fighters, and after a quick submission victory over Johannes Kunz, Rocha found himself competing for the Free Fight Alliance (FFA) middleweight title in only his second professional fight. Rocha won the fight by submission, over the far more experienced Steve Mensing, to become FFA Middleweight Champion and was quickly pegged as a rising star in the German MMA circuit. He went on to win La Onda's Manto Cup in an 8-man, one-night tournament in 2009 and was signed by the UFC soon afterward.
Rocha made his official UFC debut on November 13, 2010, at UFC 122: Marquardt vs. Okami. To motivate him, Rocha's manager told him he only had a one fight contract, and he would need to win to stay in the UFC. He fought TUF 11 runner-up Kris McCray defeating him by kneebar at 2:21 of round 1.
Rocha's next fight came only two months later, on February 5, 2011 at UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort against Jake Ellenberger. Rocha was a replacement for Jon Fitch after Fitch was moved to the UFC 127 main event to fight B.J. Penn. Rocha lost the fight via controversial split decision. The dissenting judge scoring the bout for Rocha drew the ire of commentator Joe Rogan and other members of the press, who cited the 30-27 scoring as "questionable".
After his fight with Ellenberger, Rocha hoped to compete at UFC 134 in Rio pending the results of shoulder and elbow surgery. However, further X-rays showed severe damage in both his right and left elbows, leaving him unable to compete for the rest of 2011. He had hoped to return some time in early 2012, but was unable to schedule a fight. After recovering from surgery he moved to the US and started training with team Black House in Los Angeles, California.
Rocha next faced Mike Pierce on June 8, 2012 at UFC on FX 3. As well as moving to Black House to train for the fight, Rocha claimed that this was the first time in his career that he had a full training camp leading up to a fight. Originally 2 judges scored the fight 30-27 for Pierce, while the 3rd judge inexplicably scored it 30-27 for Rocha. However, it was later announced that the judge, Ric Bays, had scored the fight for the wrong corner and that Pierce had actually won unanimously. Rocha was released from his UFC contract following his loss to Pierce.
In 2013, Rocha opened his first MMA gym in San Francisco, CA. It was here where Rocha would take a break from competitive fighting and concentrate on his training, technique and health.
Rocha became a proud Father in 2015.
In 2015 Carlos signed by well known MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu manager, Gilberto Faria. With the help of Faria, Rocha signed a contract to fight with Bellator in on September 19 th , 2015.
In 2017 Carlos became the head instructor at Spark Martial Arts where he leads Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing classes.