MMA: How the Rock nearly ended up in the UFC

Actor Dwayne Johnson speaks onstage during Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2014. Photo / Getty Images
Actor Dwayne Johnson speaks onstage during Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2014. Photo / Getty Images

Once the face of the WWE, former world champion Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's career after pro-wrestling very nearly took a turn vastly different to his multi-million dollar acting success.

The 44-year-old admitted on the UFC Unfiltered podcast on Thursday that as his wrestling career came to a close, he considered making the transition to MMA to try his hand in the UFC almost 10 years ago.

Speaking with hosts Jim Norton and Matt Serra, Johnson said that back in 2006, two years after he had relinquished his world title and left the WWE, he felt he had achieved all he could in wrestling. With his movie career not taking off as expected, he was looking for a tougher challenge.

"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."

The Rock became a long-time fan of the UFC after watching the franchise's first ever event in 1993 while playing college football for the University of Miami. However with the possibility of a career in the NFL on the line, and the opportunity to follow in his father's footsteps in professional wrestling, his love of MMA remained channelled only as a fan rather than a potential athlete.

The thought of the 196cm, 118kg Rock in a sport that gives you permission to hurt your opponent by almost any means possible is truly terrifying. Luckily for the rest of the UFC's heavyweight division, it appeared Johnson had left it too late.

"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," he 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."



Missing out on his window to make it in Dana White's organisation hasn't exactly stunted Johnson's career.

As the current highest-grossing actor in Hollywood, he still makes sporadic appearances in the WWE, and has had hit after hit on the big screen. In the next 12 months alone, he'll star alongside Kevin Hart in Central Intelligence, Vin Diesel in Fast 8 and Zac Efron in Baywatch.

Johnson said he still closely follows the UFC, and considers MMA the most challenging sport in the world.

"Anybody, by the way, who is successful in one area and then commits to MMA, I just feel like it's the toughest sport in the world," Johnson said. "I always take my hat off to those guys."

"Still a big fan and love the sport," Johnson added. "But at one time, I did consider it."

- news.com.au

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