After being introduced to John “The Potter” Cofer by past Sports Babe of the Day, Daron Cruickshank (who happened to be one of his teammates on The Ultimate Fighter 15: Live), I knew I’d be in for a shock.
Speaking with the southern twang and charm one would expect from a guy born-and-raised in Georgia, John opened up about more than just fighting; particularly, I was interested in learning more about his interest in pottery, and his harmonica-playing skills. For the record, he’s “not very good at it” (in his own opinion), but can fake it for a few minutes.
Beyond sharing how he slings drinks at a cougar-bar when he’s not fighting (for easy cash, and hilarious stories), travels with his girlfriend, and how much he enjoyed the shenanigans on TUF:15, it was heart-warming to hear a bit more about the softer-side of this Featherweight fighter… like his man-crush on Ryan Gosling.
Find out how John went from being a 3rd grade teacher, to an accidental professional fighter.
30 Questions with John Cofer
2) When did you decide that fighting professionally was for you?
Truth be told, I pretty much went pro almost as an accident. My buddy got me a fight, and I didn’t know it was pro fight. I found out a few weeks before when he was like “hey, it’s a pro fight, you’re getting paid” It ended up working out, because I won, but um… yeah. After that, I kept fighting. It wasn’t about turning pro, it was about being as successful as I ccould be, as a pro.
3) So if it was by accident, what career plans did you have before you started fighting?
Now, I think I’d be in the fire department.
I taught third grade, fresh out of college… a lot of people that know me now would probably find that surprising! I’m a fighter that once taught elementary school, that makes pottery, and slings beers to make a living.
4) That’s kind of an interesting mix of talent. How did you get into teaching?
I wrestled at the university of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I studied to get my teachers certification while I was there, and I was planning on getting my masters, but fighting took off. I didn’t want to wake up and have been doing nothing but teaching for 15+ years, so I decided to try this. I have no real intention of going back to teaching either – I had fun while I did it.
5) Do you think fighting professionally is something you can do forever?
I won’t fight forever, but being in the fire department has always been in the back of my head, so that’s something I’ll probably do. I’ve thought about trying to do both – we’ll see further down the road.
6) What has been your best career-related memory, to date?
Being on the show, definitely, and meeting all the guys that I met and lived with. All the experiences I took from being on the show, too. Getting to live with Daron… running around, jumping around naked… that was good.
7) So before you were on the show, were you a diehard TUF fan?
I watched the show here and there, but never a full season. I had buddies on in the past, so I’d check up on how they were doing.
8) What was life like when you got back from the show? Were you recognized?
I didn’t do as well as I thought I could, or would, or how I wanted to do. I don’t really feel like I became a superstar. Life resumed, and went back to normal. I’d get recognized here and there, but it was never anything big… though one guy recognized me at a urinal at an Olive Garden. He put his hand on my shoulder to talk to me, so I put my hand on his too.
9) Stuff just got weird…
Just two guys sharing a moment.
10) Ok, so if you could put together a fantasy fight bill, which two fighters would you love to see go head-to-head?
My choice? Weight wouldn’t matter? I would like to see any Lightweight vs. any Heavyweight. Any lightweight fighter’s skill set, speed, and abilities would be far superior to almost any heavyweight. Many people would probably disagree with me. By lightweight, I don’t just mean 155 – I mean 135-155, against a 200+
Other than that, I’d like to see Darren Cruise vs Bruce Lee.
11) If you were going to the 2014 ESPYS, describe what your outfit of choice would be:
Blue jeans and a flannel – pretty much the same thing I wear everyday.
12) There was a time when wearing the tattoo-inspired, rhinestone-encrusted clothes from Christian Audegier and Xtreme Couture seemed to be the norm amongst fighters. Did you ever buy into the Ed Hardy-styled hype? Daron Cruickshank mentioned to us that you coined a term on TUF, that was for blinged-out fighters.
Yeah “everybody has got a little dragon in them”. It’s something like when you see somebody in the street and they’re full dragon, so they’ve got highlights, gelled hair, tweezed eyebrows, they’re tanned, wearing studded belts, jeans and tops – that’s full dragon. We never go full dragon. We used to look for people, to find the little bit of dragon in them. It can be like your name tattooed on your back, or something tribal. Everybody on the show had a little bit in them… Mike, the one that won the season, had his name tattooed on him… that’s his little bit of dragon.
13) So what’s your dragon?
I don’t remember now… maybe the tattoos? But my tattoos aren’t names or tribal… I might be one of the dragon-free fighters out there. I was one of the last dragon-free standing guys on the show. Now that I think about it, maybe we never figured out my dragon. We couldn’t find anything for Faber, either.
14) Speaking of Faber, is he the reason you’ve fought in braids?
Nah, I only did that for one fight. I always wanted to try it – and my hair was always in my eyes, so I did the braids to fight. Now, I cut my hair and grew my beard – I’m kinda duck dynasty style now.
15) The shorts that fighters weigh-in wearing, and get their fight-stance pictures taken in, leave little to the imagination. How nerve-wracking was it the first time you wore them in front of a crowd?
Not at all nervous – I’ve been wrestling since I was six years old. I feel more comfortable in a pair of tights than I do in blue jeans. In my last weigh in, in December for UFC, I wore white, just because I thought it was funny, thinking about what would show through.
16) Your body is in the public eye a lot, as a professional fighter. Men work to get a body like yours, and women want their men to have a body like yours. Everyone has insecurities, though… so has there ever been a time when you’ve woken up and secretly hated something about yourself, or felt self-conscious about something?
I have really big ribs. If you look at a picture of me from the side… I’ve got these ribs that poke right out. You can’t tell from the front, but you can from the side, and they’re so weird. My dad has the same… If you look at him, he has these weird ribs, and a divet in his chest. I got the weird ribs, and my brother got the divet. He gave one to each of us.
When I’m not really ripped up before a fight, it just looks like I have a few giant abs – really, it’s just my ribs sticking through.
17) What do you feel the most sexy in?
18) With that being said, I’m sure our female readers are dying to know… what do you think a woman looks the sexiest in?
A business suit, or daisy-dukes.
20) So if you had some time off to spend with your lady, what would your ideal date-night look like?
She’d probably get on to me for not having an answer for you… I think we do a lot of different stuff, so there’s no “ideal” date. We’re not typical in terms of going to the movies or going to dinner… we’ll go to… like an art show, or a comedy club. We go out of town a lot. If we get a free night, which are few and far between for us, we’ll drive up to the mountains or up to Chatanooga, where I was originally from. Stuff like that. We’re kind of all over the board – whatever tickles her fancy at the moment, I reckon.
21) It sounds like you really like traveling! You travel a lot for your fights, and in your off-time too. What is one thing you can’t leave home without?
Aside from the serious stuff? Contact solution. I’m a very simple person, honestly. When I went to Europe, I didn’t pack much at all… I had one pair of shorts, one pair of blue jeans, three t-shirts and one pair of underwear. I threw the underwear aware, because I didn’t end up wearing them. It all fit into a JanSport backpack, and I used that for 6 weeks… but contact solution? I can’t live without it. Other than that, I’m good.
22) Ok, so you travel light. What about if we were to look in suitcase, or JanSport bag… what would be the most surprising product we would find?
You’d probably just wonder where all my stuff is! When I went out there for the show, I knew they’d give us just about everything. When I showed up to the show, everyone showed up with bags and bags of gear and clothes, which they ended up taking away from them anyway. I had a book bag, and I remember when I was packing, thinking to myself “what do I need to bring?”. All I could think of was “what do you need to win?”. My answer was nothing, so I didn’t take anything.
23) Because you workout, fight, and travel frequently, your body is under a lot of stress. What do you do to keep your immune system in fighting shape?
I don’t really get sick. I eat healthy. Outside of camp, I’m not the best eater, but all the exercise keeps you healthy. I can’t remember the last time I was actually sick.
24) So it sounds like your immune system is in good shape, but what about after fights? What is your injury healing process like?
I love massages. If I have an injury, I get a massage and I’m good to go.
25) What does your ideal “cheat day” look like?
If we’re talking about a whole day off, I’d probably try not to be bothered by anybody. I’d go make a whole bunch of pottery. Oddly enough, I really enjoy turning pots. I do a lot of folk-art. I love movies too, so I’d watch a movie. I’d eat Smartfood popcorn and sushi all day long.
26) So no cheat-day partying?
I don’t really drink – I do occasionally, but those times are few and far between. Even if I have the chance to do that, I chose not to. I’m one of the few bartenders you may meet that doesn’t. It’s usually special occasions like a wedding or a vacation that I’ll do it, but I don’t do it just to do it. I have the tolerance of a nine year old school girl.
27) Everyone has a pump-up song for while they’re pre-gaming, getting ready, etc. What song is #1 on your getting-ready mix?
There are several! Any song by R L Burnside. He’s the ultimate G of blues. That, or I’d listen to harmonica riffs by Sonny Terry – he’s one of the greatest harmonica players that ever lived.
28) Is that the same kind of music you’d listen to while preparing for a fight?
Yeah, oddly enough. I don’t really need music to hype me up – I’m already hyped up enough as it is.
29) So now that we have your life soundtrack figured out, what about Hollywood? If your life story was about to hit the big-screen, who would you want to play you?
Ryan Gosling… he’s a sexy beast.
30) Last question… while we’re talking about sexy beasts… if you could nominate anyone to be featured as a Sports Babe of the Day, who would it be?
I want to see Mike Chiesa’s interview, and ask him how much he enjoyed me jumping on him naked…
Chocolate or Vanilla
Beer, or wine?
I don’t always drink, but when I do, I drink bourbon 😉 Real men drink Bourbon.
Rap or Rock
Smooth or Crunchy Peanut Butter
Both! I rotate them as often as possible… I’d eat about a jar of peanut butter a day, if I could. I come from a peanut butter loving family.
Cat or Dog
BlackBerry or iPhone
Twitter or Facebook
Sun or Snow
Sun, for sure… beach, or lake if I’m fishing.
Coffee or Tea
Salty or Sweet
RomCom or Horror
RomCom – Hey, I mentioned Ryan Gosling earlier.
Talk or Text
Who has more fun, Blondes, or Brunettes?
Well I hate to say it since you’re Brunette, but Blondes