Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson had an extensive interview with UFC Magazine and spoke about his admiration for the Gracies, how he’s been a fan of the UFC since UFC 1 and if he’d ever fight MMA:
“UFC Magazine: Your home state of Hawaii has produced a steady stream of UFC talent. What is it about the Aloha State that produces so many guys who are willing to scrap?
The Rock: Scrappin’ is just in the blood. In Hawaii, you eat, drink, play ukulele, have jam sessions, scrap, hug it out and do it all over again. I’m very proud of all the local boys who took that next step to hone their skills, work their asses off and become true mixed martial artists.
UM: What fight or particular moment drew you into mixed marital arts? Was it Brock Lesnar, or were you a fan before he made his Octagon debut?
TR: 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.
UM: Are there any particular fighters you currently follow?
TR: 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]
UM: Gina Carano, who made F&F 6 with you, is possibly coming out of retirement. If she meets Rousey in the Octagon, who are you taking?
TR: 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.
UM: Do you ever hear a voice in the back of your head whispering that you should give MMA a shot?
TR: 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.”