Former WWE Champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has made it clear in the past that he is a huge MMA fan. Johnson recently did a Q&A with UFC Magazine and here are the highlights.
On if he was a fan of MMA before or after Brock Lesnar entered the sport: 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.
On his favorite MMA fighters
: 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]
Lesnar left the WWE in 2004 to pursue his NFL dreams, but failed to make the 53 man roster for the Minnesota Vikings. He went back to pro wrestling in late 04 and eventually into MMA a few years later.
On if he gave Lesnar any advice before stepping into the cage: 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.
Johnson asked UFC President Dana White to appear on his all new TNA show, “Wake Up Call”.
On why he reached out to White to appear on his show
: 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.
You can catch Johnson’s show on Friday nights.
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