Hollywood megastar and part-time WWE Superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson recently spoke to UFC Magazine to promote his new movie Hercules, which opens in theaters this Friday. The Rock, who is a longtime UFC fan and has starred in movies alongside Gina Carano and Ronda Rousey, spoke about a number of UFC-related topics in the interview. Here are the highlights of what he said about:
What Made Him A UFC Fan:
I was always a fan of the UFC, dating back to UFC 1 in ’93. But what actually drew me to MMA was when I attended UFC 60, when Matt Hughes faced Royce Gracie in a non-title catchweight fight. I was interested in MMA at that time, so I went to the Staples Center early and sat in the front row to watch every fight that night— including all the prelims. I wanted to absorb as much I could and become somewhat of a student for the night. When the main event was about to start, they sat the Gracie family next to me. Specifically Helio Gracie—his energy and presence was powerful. I’ll never forget shaking his hand. Royce lost, but even in defeat, the grace, pride and poise he and the Gracie family showed that night was inspiring. I went home that night with such a greater respect for the sport and all its fighters.
Which Current Fighters He Follows:
“I always have my eyes on the champions, specifically the heavyweight and light heavyweight champs. Cain Velasquez is an animal with the type of heart and conditioning that makes me want to run through a wall at 3 a.m. and do my cardio and training. My buddy Jon Jones is a very special fighter who bridges fighting and artistry like no one ever before has. They’re both incredibly inspiring champions who are needle movers in the world of MMA. And I bet 2015 will be the year of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson: a bad dude. When he becomes champion, I’m gonna have to claim him as my cousin! [Laughs]”
What He Learned From Ronda Rousey While Filming Fast & Furious 7:
“Ronda is one of a kind. She’s a champion with world-class drive and work ethic. And to be able to do what she’s doing—the drive of being a champion and then balancing that with the drive of being equally as good on the big screen—that type of ambition requires capacity, and it’s so cool to see her achieve and move mountains.”
Who Would Win Between Gina Carano & Ronda Rousey:
“Come on, man, you can’t ask me that. That’s like asking me, ‘Hey, Rock, which side of your handsome face do you like better, left or right?’ Obviously, it’s impossible to answer. You see what I did there? Avoided that question like the Filipino clap and managed to drop a ‘handsome’ line in.”
Did He Give Brock Lesnar Any Advice Before He Joined UFC?
“I never spoke to Brock when he decided to compete in MMA. We’ve been good buds for years, and he always knew I supported his decision. To be able to accomplish what he did and become UFC heavyweight champion in that short amount of time was insane—historic.”
What made him reach out to Dana White to participate in his show Wake Up Call?
“On that episode of Wake Up Call, we have an 18-year-old high-school dropout who has one dream: to become a UFC champion. Despite the fact that his mom is in prison and he dropped out of school, he’s a good kid with a big heart and a dream. I told him if he meets me halfway and puts in the hard work, then I’ll provide the tools he needs to achieve his dream. I called Dana to see if he’d come down to Florida and take a look at this kid and see if he had any potential. I knew I could count on Dana to give it to me and the kid straight without any bullshit. Not only did Dana fly all the way to Florida, but he brought Mike Dolce with him. They put that kid through the ringer with training, conditioning and a shot to become part of Coach Libo’s [Ricardo Liborio] American Top Team up the road from where we live. I won’t give it away, but let’s just say that we may see that kid, Terrell Moore, in the Octagon one day. I can’t thank Dana and the UFC enough for their support of Wake Up Call.”
If He’s Ever Been Tempted To Become An MMA Fighter:
“I used to hear that voice a few years back, then I remembered I don’t like getting punched in the face. Kidding aside, I have boundless respect for MMA and the discipline it takes to become a champion. The best way I can honor the warriors is through my support.”