“UFC 360,” the promotion’s official magazine, recently caught up with “The Rock,” a frequent cageside presence at UFC events. The celebrity MMA fan said that growing up in Hawaii helped turned him on to the sport, and he even (briefly) considered lacing up the gloves.
“I used to hear that voice a few years back, then I remembered I don’t like getting punched in the face,” he told the magazine. “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.”
Johnson, who recently shared the big screen with Strikeforce veteran (and potential upcoming UFC signee) Gina Carano on “Fast & Furious 6″ and UFC champ Ronda Rousey on “Fast & Furious 7,” said his MMA fandom really took off in 2006, when he sat cageside with the Gracie family while UFC welterweight champ Matt Hughes met UFC trailblazer Royce Gracie in a non-title bout.
Since then, he’s seen fellow WWE star Brock Lesnar make a short but memorable UFC title run, and the big men still continue to garner his attention. In fact, he expects big things for Anthony Johnson (17-4 MMA, 8-4 UFC), who co-headlines Saturday’s UFC on FOX 12 event against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (21-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC).
“I always have my eyes on the champions, specifically the heavyweight and light heavyweight champs,” he said. “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!”