On fight weeks, Charlie Campbell and his teammate watch the Attitude Era pay-per-views of the WWF. Before his Noche UFC debut, he was watching The Rock and got an idea.
Daniel Cormier was on the call for Saturday’s event, and Campbell figured the UFC Hall of Famer, a huge pro-wrestling mark, would appreciate one of Dwayne Johnson’s greatest hits: it doesn’t matter.
“Then I just, like, rehearsed it a little bit,” Campbell said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I was like, ‘I’m going to get ‘DC’ so bad, man.”
After Campbell’s impressive first-round knockout of Alex Reyes, Cormier walked right into the setup. How could he not? Campbell asked him what he thought about his striking. Was Cormier not supposed to respond?
You can see what happened next.
“It doesn’t matter what you think!” Campbell interrupted Cormier. “Shout out to Dwayne Johnson, ‘The Rock.’ I’m a huge fan.”
“You know I love a good WWE reference, so I’m going to let you live,” replied Cormier, looking equal parts amused and ambushed.
Seconds earlier in his interview, Campbell brushed off the dreaded octagon jitters, which, considering what happened to him 11 months earlier, were a real possibility.
The last time Campbell was seen on the national stage, it was on Dana White’s Contender Series. He was seconds away from a knockout win over Chris Duncan and wound up walking into one of the most devastating KO losses in the show’s history.
Campbell dusted himself off and got back to work on the regional circuit, picking up a pair of wins before a spot opened up on Noche UFC. He vowed to be as calm as he was when the spotlight wasn’t on him, and to make his post-win speech memorable.
He chose Cormier’s walkout music to set the tone.
“I think everyone’s got great ideas, it’s just who’s going to go for it,” Campbell said. “I think other people have come up with clever things to do in the moment, and I’m just the kind of guy to shoot for it and try to capitalize. Yeah, I could have looked stupid, but I was like, ‘Listen, I’m going for it.’
“I think deep down, he respected it, because why wouldn’t he? It’s not like, anything personal,” he added. “[Cormier] had to digest it quick, and he was like, ‘Oh my god.’ I still think I could have done a better job, let’s put it that way. But I’m going to capitalize on those 10 seconds I get any time.”
When he hopped online to see reaction to his interview, he of course looked for a response from Johnson. And sure enough, “The Rock” commented on a clip of the interview, ribbing Cormier on getting caught.
“He just kind of s*** a little more on DC, like, ‘Oh, he got you good,’” Campbell said of Johnson’s message. “I got his stamp of approval in some way, and some sort of seed could have been been planted for future work together. It’s going to happen.”
Who knows, Campbell said, maybe another seed has been planted. Cormier doesn’t like being made the butt of jokes. Maybe if the UFC’s new corporate partner, WWE, makes good on a wish to give aging fighters a second life in pro-wrestling, there’s a beef the two can work in the ring.
“We’ll see what the WWE does in the future with guys coming in,” Campbell said. “If they give DC the mic in the WWE ring, I’m going to interrupt that and come out to his song.”