The Rock in the Octagon? It was a thought at one point.
Dwayne Johnson, the hugely popular Hollywood actor and former WWE star, at one point considered transitioning to mixed martial arts, he told comedian Jim Norton and Matt Serra on the UFC Unfiltered podcast Thursday.
About a decade ago, Johnson said he had already pretty much done everything there was to do in the world of pro wresting. He was a former WWE champion and one of the biggest draws in the history of sports entertainment. The Rock left WWE in 2004 to embark on a movie career, but that wasn’t going as well as he’d hoped.
“There was a time there where I thought, man, I achieved everything I wanted to achieve in WWE, my movie career is floundering a little bit, what do I do?” Johnson said. “I was relatively still young, I think I was 34. I thought, oh well maybe UFC. Maybe I should do something like that.”
Johnson, now 44, said he caught the first-ever UFC when he was still in college. But football was his primary focus at that point. He was a defensive lineman for the University of Miami with designs on a pro career. Pro wrestling was always a possibility for him, Johnson said, because it was the family business. His father and his grandfather were pro wrestlers.
The Rock was a force of nature in WWE. But, with his competitive juices likely flowing, wanted to excel at another athletic endeavor about 10 years ago. Not unlike Brock Lesnar and his transition to MMA after a wildly successful WWE career. CM Punk is attempting to do the same thing right now.
It just never came together for Johnson.
“In my head, I felt like it was at least a two-year process for me to even get in the [cage], let alone the UFC,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t quite too sure what to do or what kind of people to put around me at the time, so the idea kind of fizzled out and I continued to stay on the path of movie making.”
Obviously, that has worked out for him. Johnson is the highest grossing and most prolific actor in Hollywood. He also makes appearances in WWE from time to time — like in 2015 at Wrestlemania alongside UFC phenom Ronda Rousey.
Johnson remains a massive fan of the UFC. He said he just finished reading Mark Hunt’s biography and was blown away by the “Super Samoan” and his tragic backstory, which included child abuse. Johnson said he’s torn between Hunt and his friend Lesnar at UFC 200.
“Anybody, by the way, who is successful in one area and then commits to MMA, I just feel like it’s the toughest f*cking sport in the world,” Johnson said. “I always take my hat off to those guys.”
He was almost one of them himself. The serious thought did cross his mind.
“Still a big fan and love the sport,” Johnson said. “But at one time, I did consider it.”
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