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The time The Rock thought about competing in MMA

The mere thought of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson fighting in the UFC may sound far-fetched, but it may have been closer to reality than you would originally think.

The Rock briefly considered getting involved in mixed martial arts. (AP Images for WWE)Before he became a wildly successful actor, the former WWE superstar was tempted to try his hand at mixed martial arts. The Rock revealed his one-time desire to transition from pro wrestling to MMA in an interview on the UFC Unfiltered podcast.

In the early 2000s, The Rock was at the pinnacle of success as a WWE superstar. He was the champion and easily the most recognizable face in sports entertainment – alongside “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. His crossover success opened doors for him to become an actor and Johnson decided to depart from the WWE full-time in 2004 to pursue the new career path. But the success that he hoped for in Hollywood had eluded and, eventually, frustrated him.

“There was a time when my movies weren’t doing that well and I had a hard time finding my groove and figuring out what the audiences wanted to see from me,” Johnson told Matt Serra and Jim Norton. “So I was making these movies – to use a baseball analogy – I was hitting singles and doubles. At that point I was like what the [expletive] do I have to do?”

Johnson explained that he had long been a fan of mixed martial arts and recalled watching the first UFC tournament while playing college football. With his acting career in limbo, Johnson considered a path that has since been taken by former pro wrestlers turned MMA fighters Brock Lesnar and CM Punk.

“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."

After some consideration, however, Johnson decided to stick with acting and eventually found his groove as one of the biggest stars on the screen today.

"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."

Since then, Johnson has had prominent roles in blockbuster films such as the “Fast & Furious” series, “San Andreas,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” and recently starred alongside Kevin Hart in the comedy “Central Intelligence,” that topped the box office to the tune of $35 million. Suffice to say, he made the right decision. But he’s still a fan and hoping that his filming schedule will let up so he can attend 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 [expletive] sport in the world," Johnson said. "I always take my hat off to those guys."


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