Photo by Todd Brewer
Photo by Todd Brewer

Rutkowski claims Ada title

Reigning world champion outlasts the field to win Bullfighters Only event

ADA, Okla. – Weston Rutkowski arrived in Ada a few days ago knowing he was in for one heck of a fight.

 

Bullfighters Only-Ada marked the return of big-time freestyle bullfighting to the Pontotoc County Agriplex for the first time in five years, and the Haskell, Texas, man showed just why he is the No. 1 man in the game.

 

“It was a good day at the office,” said Rutkowski, who pocketed $10,000 by winning BFO-Ada in front of a packed crowd. “This is my passion, my career. This is my love, and I am excited anytime I can do this.”

 

Fifteen men began Saturday night’s showdown all matched with aggressive and athletic Spanish fighting bulls. It was the perfect mix of action, excitement and danger, and it played out well for all involved. It just played out a little better for Rutkowski, the first man in 17 years to win a world championship through a freestyle bullfighting tour.

 

“Ada was awesome,” he said. “There was a line all the way out to the road of people trying to get in. It was everything I expected it to be.”

 

The field included many of the top men in Bullfighters Only, some rising stars and a bullfighting legend in 1999 Wrangler Bullfight Tour world champion Lance Brittan, who returned to the game he loves after several years away.

 

“I watched one bullfight all night before I went, and I got to see Lance Brittan do what Lance Brittan does best,” Rutkowski said. “The crowd was very involved, very engaged. They were excited to have bullfighting back in Ada, and they knew what they were watching and what they’ve missed for so many years.”

 

The Bullfighters Only Ada Invitational will air at on RFD-TV at 7:30 p.m. Central this Wednesday, April 26.

 

“My first bull was not one of the bulls that are particularly fun to fight,” said Rutkowski, who scored 86.5 points to win his section and advance to the championship round. “He was a little older and smarter, and I got a lot of rounds out of him to keep him hooked up with me.”

 

With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

 

That means it’s imperative that the bull remain as close as possible and stay aggressive through the 60-second bout.

 

“My short-round bull was one I fought back in San Angelo (Texas).” he said.

That bout took place in February and didn’t end the way he wanted. The bull hooked him to the ground, then tossed the bullfighter in the air.

 

“I was pretty pumped up to get the rematch with him,” said Rutkowski, who matched moves with Mess Up the Ranch from Rockin’ B & Magnifica Fighting Bulls for 88 points to win the title. “I’m just glad it worked out.”

 

It also moved him back to the top of the BFO world standings, but the season is still in its infancy. There are several more events left on the schedule.

 

“I do this because I love it, but it is nice to be able to do well in front of such a great crowd,” he said. “Everything I had heard about Ada turned out to be true. It was amazing.”

 

 

Bullfighters Only Ada Invitational 2017 RESULTS:

Round 1:  Ely Sharkey, 88 points; 2. Lance Brittan, 84.5; 3. Noah Krepps, 84.

Round 2:  Zach Call, 88 points; 2. Zach Arthur, 87.5; 3. Tate Rhoads, 85.5.

Round 3:  Evan Allard, 85 points; 2. Toby Inman, 83.5; 3. Jon Roberts, 83.

Round 4:  Weston Rutkowski, 86.5 points; 2. Bryce Redo, 84.5; 3. Travis Gidley, no score.

Round 5:  Schell Apple, 85.5 points; 2. (tie) Jimmy Essary and Beau Schueth, 84.5.

Final Round:  1. Weston Rutkowski, 88 points; 2. Schell Apple, 87; 3. Evan Allard, 86.5; 4. Zach Call, 86; 5. Ely Sharkey, 84.5.


BURELLE'S PICKS - ADA, OKLAHOMA

My Round 1 pick is Lance Brittan. Fresh out of retirement he will have to knock the rust off but his ground game is too smooth for Cody Greer to take him out.

 

I have the 2nd round going to Zach Call.  He will likely dominate this pen because of his aggressive style and hustle. He keeps close contact with his bull for the majority of his bullfight. He doesn’t have any huge tricks in his bag but neither do the two guys he is up against which means he wins the round.

 

Round 3 looks like it will be the toughest of the night. Evan is dangerous especially when he is pushed to his limits and Toby Inman will do exactly that. I’m going to give this one to Toby by the slimmest of margins, maybe a half point difference, just because I think he is due for a win. Sorry Jon Roberts, you are bringing a knife to a gunfight.

 

I have Round 4 going to Weston Rutkowski for two reasons. Number one: Gidley drew into the deep end of the pool and I think he may be out of his depth in this pen.  Number two: Although Redo is the only rookie I have seen with the raw talent to beat Weston, I am not sure he has the experience yet.

 

Round 5 goes to Beau Schueth.  He is nothing fancy but is by far the most consistent of the three. I think he is going knock out Superman Schell for the win.

 

Who wins the Championship Round?  I’m pretty sure the boys in Vegas would say Weston Rutkowski  is the odds on favorite.  As for me, I’m picking the long shot.  I still think Toby Inman is due for a win.


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Bullfighting returns to Ada

Bullfighters Only brings the sport back to its roots with event in a storied arena

 

ADA, Okla. – Eighteen years ago, Andy Burelle was a rising star in freestyle bullfighting.

 

He earned dozens of victories over his storied career of battling fighting bulls. He competed in his first bullfight at the Pontotoc County Agriplex in 1999, also the first time the sport was showcased inside the Ada building.

 

“I had just went to Rex Dunn’s school that spring, and that bullfight was in the fall of 1999,” said Burelle, who will return to announce the Agriplex on Saturday, April 22, for the first Bullfighters Only event in the storied complex. “It was the first bullfight I ever entered, and I ended up winning it.

 

“Fourteen years later, that was the last bullfight I entered. I won it and dropped the mic. That was the last time I ever freestyled a bull, and that was the last time the bullfights were in Ada.”

 

Burelle will pick up that microphone for the BFO event, serving as one of the announcers who will call the action. He provides color commentary while bringing world championship experience to the show. Most importantly, he brings a passion to his craft.

 

Now that he’s retired, Burelle has been witness to the sport’s resurgence because of Bullfighters Only.

 

“We used to have the world championships in Ada,” he said of a single event that eventually moved to Ardmore, Okla. “Now that we’ve got Bullfighters Only, we’ve got a year-long battle with standings. It’s not just one event that can crown a world champion; we’ve got world standings, and when we do these title fights and matches, you’ve got to be ranked.

 

“To be ranked at the BFO means a lot. It means you’re elite.”

 

Elite is just what bullfighting fans in Ada expect, and it’s why having Bullfighters Only bringing the show back to town is such a big deal.

 

“When we were in Vegas, we had seven performances where the guys would just go out and try to one-up one another,” Burelle said. “It was the rankest bullfight I’ve ever seen. Bullfighters Only has elevated the sport to a level that I never expected or have ever seen.”

 

“When I fought bulls, I tried to innovate the sport,” he said. “I brought the backflip, a lot like Travis Pastrana did with motorsports. Now they make my backflips look like nothing. What these guys are doing now makes what I was doing look more like taking a skateboard and jumping a ramp over a soda can.”

 

Bullfighters Only is also about innovation, and that’s been the driving force behind it’s incredible growth. Two years ago, the BFO was showcasing the sport via sessions that were posted on social media. Now it’s in the midst of its second full season of battling toward a world championship.

 

“Ada was one of the first big bullfights that I was ever in,” said Toby Inman, a Davis Junction, Ill., bullfighter who will be part of the one-day championship bullfight. “I was thrown to the wolves in Ada.”

 

Now he’ll be one of the wolves battling against some of the best Spanish fighting bulls around. Much like it was when Dunn, the legendary bullfighter, was providing the bulls in Ada, there will be some excellent bovine athleticism on display.

 

“Rex’s bulls were man-eaters,” Inman said. “As long as they’ve got four legs and are hot, I’m excited. You want those man-eaters, those that are coming out to rip you up. The same as what we face now with the BFO.”

 

He will get them, and so will the other top bullfighters that will be part of the bout. It’s a fascinating event. A big part of Bullfighters Only’s success lies within the heart-stopping action that comes with the extreme danger in freestyle bullfighting. Men will try to stay within inches of the bulls, which are bred to be part of this type of fight. The most successful will keep the animal engaged closely while showcasing true athleticism to stay out of harm’s way.

 

With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

 

“That arena was always jam-packed, and they couldn’t fit any more people into it,” Inman said. “I suspect it’ll be the same with this, because the BFO definitely brings a great show.”