It's hard to imagine Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson taking any other path to stardom than the one he did. Starting out as a third-generation wrestler the fans didn't accept, then turning his career around to become one of the biggest WWE Superstars in the organization's history, and finally parlaying that success to become one of the most prominent actors in the world is a major success story.
Today he's one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood and arguably busier than any other celebrity. It could have been completely different.
10 years ago, he almost left the WWE to pursue a career in mixed martial arts (MMA). The Rock tweeted Sunday he considered UFC a decade ago and envisioned Greg Jackson as his coach. Jackson has a rich history in MMA, having coached fighters like former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, former UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre, former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm, among others.
However, Johnson elaborated he steered clear of the Octagon after he "smartened up" because he wanted his "jaw intact." It turned out to be a wise decision.
The first time word of The Rock's interest in MMA came to light was when he appeared on the UFC Unfiltered podcast in 2016 and said he was ready to attempt a different venture some time ago.
He explained how he'd achieved everything he could have dreamed in the WWE and his attempt to translate that success into movies wasn't going as well as planned. With a floundering movie career, he had to contemplate his next direction. At the time he was 34 years old and anything later than that would have been too late.
Via a Marc Raimondi article, The Rock described his decision-making process. "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."
Clearly, things worked out exactly as they were supposed to for the megastar. Sure, he would have catapulted UFC's popularity, just as Brock Lesnar and CM Punk have done in their attempts to make the jump from wrestling to MMA, but as an actor, he found the success he was looking for and then some. Today, he's still often called upon as a WWE alumni and is also the spearhead of a major production company Seven Bucks Productions.
Needless to say, his decision to avoid going the MMA route was probably a smart one.