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“The Rock” Dwayne Johnson revealed in a UFC podcast interview that he considered transitioning to MMA in the mid-2000s when he walked away from WWE.
Rock said he was at a cross-roads where his movie career was floundering and he contemplated a journey to UFC. However, the idea “fizzled out” and he stuck to the path of figuring out his movie career, which has panned out nicely since then.
Asked by UFC.com podcast hosts Jim Norton and Matt Serra if he considered MMA, Rock replied, “I did. I had a thought back in – well, when I was in college, I saw the first UFC that came out when I was down in Miami. I loved it then. But, at that time, football was my number one priority and trying to make it into the NFL. Then, I always felt like I could fall back on wrestling because I grew up in the world of wrestling since my family was all wrestlers.
“So, when I quietly retired from WWE in 2004, I wanted to concentrate on my movie career. There was a time when my movies weren’t doing that well. I had a hard time finding my groove and finding what I felt like the audience really wanted to see from me. So, I was making these movies hitting singles and doubles, maybe. At that point, I was like, ‘What the f— do I do?’
“I felt like I had achieved everything in wrestling in WWE that I wanted to achieve. In my last program, it was with Brock (Lesnar). I was World champion, I dropped him the belt, he became the face of the company, and I was happy to quietly walk away. In our business, it’s called passing the torch and doing the honors.
“There was a time where I achieved everything I wanted to achieve in WWE, my movie career is floundering a little bit, what do I do? I was relatively still young, I think I was 34. I thought maybe, ‘Oh, UFC, maybe I should do something like that.
“I respect the sport of mixed martial arts so much, I felt like – in my head, I felt like it was still at least a two-year process to even get in the octagon, let alone UFC. 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. But, I’m still a big fan and love the sport. But, at one time, I did consider it.
“By the way, I couldn’t have been happier for Brock when he got out of WWE and started doing MMA. Excited for C.M. Punk to make his debut, too. Look, anybody who is successful in one area and then commits to MMA, I feel like it’s the toughest f’n sport in the world, and I always take my hat off to those guys.”
In the podcast interview, Rock also talked about Brock Lesnar returning to MMA at UFC 200, trying to predict MMA fight outcomes versus knowing how WWE results are going to play out based on the storylines, and his new movie release, “Central Intelligence,” with Kevin Hart.