BFO Returns to Vegas
Bullfighters Only to award more than $100,000 during Las Vegas Championship
LAS VEGAS – Continuing its effort to revolutionize the sport of freestyle bullfighting, Bullfighters Only (BFO) has announced that a $50,000 bonus will be awarded to the 2017 BFO World Champion upon the completion of the 2017 BFO Las Vegas Championship – scheduled for Dec. 7-10 and 13-16 at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Las Vegas.
“Bullfighters Only is defined by our commitment to freestyle bullfighting and showcasing the sport’s very best athletes,” said Aaron Ferguson, founder and CEO of Bullfighters Only.
The eight-day Las Vegas Championship alone pays out over $50,000, with $25,000 of that going to the event champion. Such a big win could propel several of the BFO’s top bullfighters to a World Championship.
The results of the event will be utilized to seed competitors for the 2018 competition season.
“Our Vegas event is not only a great time to take advantage of big prize money, it’s also an important opportunity for guys to get a jump on the $50,000 bonus we will pay out to the 2018 BFO World Champion,” Ferguson explained.
This year, BFO's venue will sit next to one of the Strip’s busiest intersections - Tropicana Ave. and Las Vegas Blvd. Fans can expect the same explosive show they’ve come to love with more artistic flair and surprises than ever before.
“BFO Las Vegas is truly our crown jewel event,” Ferguson continued. “The competition will be heated and we’re going to see some upsets along the way.”
Thu. Dec. 7: Roughy Cup - a stand-alone competition featuring the top nine athletes in the BFO. The event has become a staple for BFO fans and is scheduled for 2PM.
The remainder of the BFO Las Vegas Championship schedule is as follows, with all performances starting at 2PM:
Fri. Dec. 8 – Sun. Dec. 10: Qualifier Rounds - An open door for the sport’s rising talent, providing a chance to compete at the elite level. 9 of the 27 bullfighters competing will advance to the Preliminary Rounds.
Wed. Dec. 13 – Thu. Dec. 14: Preliminary Rounds - Winners from each performance advance to Championship Saturday.
Fri. Dec. 15: Wild Card Round – Bullfighters will get one final chance to advance to Championship Saturday.
Sat. Dec. 16: The 2017 BFO World Champion will be crowned at the completion of a 9-man semi-finals, followed by the 3-man Hooey Championship Round.
The winner of the BFO Las Vegas Championship will receive a check for $25,000 and a custom title belt by Jensen Silver and Ride Hard Leather. The 2017 BFO World Champion will make history by earning a $50,000 bonus.
Come early and enjoy the Otterbox Tailgate Party, featuring music, food, drinks and games. Stay after the show to hang out with BFO bullfighters and fans, plus listen to more great music at the Hooey After-Party at Robert Irvine’s Restaurant and Bar inside the Tropicana.
Tickets are on sale at www.bullfightersonly.com.
Rutkowski finds vengeance
Texan extends lead in Pendleton Whisky World Standings
AUSTIN, Texas – Weston Rutkowski was out for vengeance Saturday night during Bulltober Fest presented by Rodeo Austin, and he took it out on a couple of Spanish fighting bulls.
The Texan’s weekend started with some bad luck when his gear bag was stolen on Friday night as he prepared for the event.
Rutkowski had to scramble to find replacement equipment. He returned to his College Station, Texas, home to get as much gear as possible. His parents delivered an old pair of cleats, and he borrowed enough other things to have himself properly armored and ready to compete against some of the baddest Spanish fighting bulls in the game.
“It was a big event, and I needed to put my foot down on the gas pedal, but I was running pretty hot.” said Rutkowski, who pushed his season earnings to more than $42,000 and increased his lead in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings.
He won his first-round bout with an 87-point fight to advance to the championship round. That’s where he showcased his dominance, hovering across the Rodeo Austin Fairgrounds dirt with Rockin’ B & Magnifica’s Cabeza Dura for 91.5 points to win the championship and $11,000.
“My first bull came out, and I went to his right horn right off the bat, and I could tell he was going to be good,” he said. “He came to me the whole bullfight. He was a great bull, but a younger bull, so he didn’t know a lot and took the fakes real hard.
“My short-round bull was a little hotter.”
Cabeza Dura burst out of the chute and went directly for Rutkowski, who made a flat-footed jump over the bull. From then on, the two combatants went head-to-head for a controlled-yet-wild 40 seconds.
“I threw a fake, and as soon as he went past, he swapped ends,” Rutkowski said of the bull immediately turning around and re-engaging the bullfighter. “That’s when I knew I had the best bull of the night.
“That’s what we train for all year. When you are matched with a bull like that, you better take advantage of him.”
It was a big night for freestyle bullfighting. Not only were there high scores all evening long, but a large crowd gathered at the arena for the wild action.
“For a first-year event, it was really good,” Rutkowski said. “The crowd was packed in there, and it was a great atmosphere all around.”
Other than having all his gear stolen, it was a fairly successful trip to Texas’ capital city. His frustration eventually turned into the motivating factor he needed to come out on top of a talented field of the BFO’s best. Even though he will have to invest a few thousand dollars to replace his gear, he has found the silver lining.
“After I looked for that stuff for an hour, I realized it was gone,” he said. “It’s not the gear that makes you; it’s who you are as a bullfighter. You have to take the punches and roll with it.”
That’s a solid assessment, in the bullfighting arena and life in general.
Round 1: 1. Toby Inman, 80.5 points; 2. Alex McWilliams, 79.5; 3. Tanner Zarnetski, 77.
Round 2: 1. Dayton Spiel, 87.5 points; 2. Ray Carlson, 86; 3. Beau Schueth, no score.
Round 3: 1. Justin Josey, 86 points; 2. Zach Call, 83; 3. Kris Furr, 82.
Round 4: 1. Weston Rutkowski, 87 points; 2. Schell Apple, 82; 3. Evan Allard, 80.5.
Championship round: 1. Weston Rutkowski, 91.5 points on Rockin’ B & Magnifica’s Cabeza Dura; 2. Justin Josey, 89.5; 3 Toby Inman, 86; 4. Dayton Spiel, 84.5.
Best trick: Schell Apple - Superman
Burelle’s Picks - BFO Bulltober Fest - Austin, TX
Toby Inman - Tanner Zarnetski - Alex McWilliams
I’m going to go out on a limb here and pick the long shot. The Rookie, Alex McWilliams, will Advance. I think that this late in the season, Alex’s young legs are going to get the better of the older vets. Father Time will rear his ugly head and the overworked Tanner Zarnetski and Toby Inman will be eliminated.
Dayton Spiel - Beau Schueth - Ray Carlson
Rookie, Ray Carlson will make his BFO debut in this round but it will come down to the David vs Goliath match up. Beau Schueth against the giant, Dayton Spiel - and I think this time the giant will win. Dayton has been on fire since he landed on tour and he is just going to keep on rolling on like a freight train.
Justin Josey - Zach Call - Kris Furr
I’ve got to go with Justin Josey, though Zach Call and Kris Furr are not gonna make it easy on him. Josey has spent the last few weeks hanging out with Webster and Tuckness and I am willing to bet they’re winning ways have rubbed off on him. He will just barely squeak out a victory here.
Allard - Rutkowski - Apple
The Champ hasn’t looked like himself most of the year, but some early victories have kept him in the number one position. He may return to form before Vegas but I he will have to fight through with his mental game and some bad habits developed after his recent groin injury. Plus, I don’t think Superman can hang with these two guys the way he has fought in the last couple of events. That being said, I have to pick Evan Allard wins Round 4.
I am picking the Freight Train, Dayton Spiel, to win it all in Austin. Twice this year I have watched him go head to head with the great Dusty Tuckness (Decatur & Ft Madison), and come out on top. I think this rookie’s future is bright and the rest of the BFO better not get caught standing on the tracks.
Roster set for Bulltober Fest
The best men from Bullfighters Only will be showcased at Bulltober Fest
AUSTIN, Texas – The chute flies open, and the pounding hooves of a Spanish fighting bull race toward the animal’s intended target.
Those sounds mark the beginning of the bout, and it’s the drawing card for the best in Bullfighters Only to showcase their athleticism. It’s what fans will experience during Bulltober Fest presented by Rodeo Austin, set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Rodeo Austin Fairgrounds.
The stand-alone BFO event will feature 12 of the top bullfighters in the game all vying for their share of the $25,000 purse. This is the greatest showcase of action in all of extreme sports, because it’s a true man-vs.-beast competition.
“You just have to go out and beat your bull,” said Weston Rutkowski, the reigning BFO world champion who also sits No. 1 in the standings. “Everything else will take care of itself after that.”
Rutkowski is just one of the 12. They will make up four three-man bouts, and the winners will advance to that evening’s championship round where the lion’s share of the money will go to the BFO-Austin champion.
“I’m very excited about Austin,” said Beau Schueth, the No. 4 man in the standings from O’Neill, Neb. “It will be an awesome event, like all of our stand-alone bullfights. There’s an opportunity to make big moves in the standings.
“Winning Austin could change anybody’s season and move them up into the running for the world championship.”
Before the BFO came on the scene, the rewards for bullfighters were small. Now with the explosion of Bullfighters Only, the athletes are finding great benefits for showcasing their talents.
“You know when you get there that you have to show out just to get in the championship round,” said Justin Josey, the 14th-ranked man from Apache, Okla. “You need to be at your very best at these stand-alone bullfights. You can’t fool around, you have to go out there to win.”
That’s a powerful attitude, but it’s a winning one that every man in the field must have. Going head-to-head with an athletic and agile Spanish fighting bull is dangerous business and bullfighters must utilize every ounce of ability and effort to come out on top.
“Every great guy in the BFO is going to be there,” Schueth said. “It’s not like going up against a few of the best guys; they’re all there. It definitely ups the ante and makes you bring your A game.”
BFO launches new digital platform
BFO All Access enables followers to take a closer look at Bullfighters Only
AUSTIN, TX - Bullfighters Only is well known for its innovation in freestyle bullfighting, but now the trailblazing company is taking it another step further.
Welcome to Bullfighters Only All Access: BFO’s new over-the-top digital media platform.
“This is the direction that the world is going,” said Aaron Ferguson, founder and CEO of Bullfighters Only. “Our fans will now have access to endless BFO content, 24/7, in the palm of their hands. It’s an exciting time for the sport, and we are really proud of the way it turned out.”
The new platform brings forward hours upon hours of never-before-seen footage; from the most recent competitions, all the way back to the first sessions. Users can catch up on the action while new content continues to be added regularly.
“You could literally spend days watching bullfights and not see the same one twice,” Ferguson said. “We’ve curated them into special playlists so that you can kick back and just let it roll.”
Whether it’s the extreme nature of freestyle bullfighting or just the way Bullfighters Only produces it, for many, there is an intense attraction to the game. Fans first tuned into videos of “BFO Sessions,” which featured the world’s top bullfighters in a battle to one-up each other with different tricks.
Ferguson said, BFO’s fan base tends to be younger than traditional rodeo audiences. They are just the kind who utilize this type of digital platform.
“There are more and more ‘cord-cutters’ every day, so it only makes sense to take this next step for those users.”
Bullfighters Only All Access is available now at https://bullfightersonly.com.vhx.tv. Users who subscribe using promo code: ALLACCESS will receive 50% off their first month’s subscription.
Furr earns 4th event title
PENDLETON, Ore. – No other athlete in the Bullfighters Only has had a hotter summer then Kris Furr.
He captured another title earlier this week by winning BFO Pendleton, held in conjunction with the world famous Pendleton Round up. Furr kept Manuel Costa’s Portuguese Power engaged throughout the 60-seconds walked away from Happy Canyon with 87 championship points.
“I like to keep the bull close the whole time,” said Furr, who threw a few fakes to the quick little black bull but mostly focused on making rounds. “If I feel like they’re getting away from me, I like to go back to them and get some rounds in. I want to keep their confidence high so they stay with me.”
Furr edged the No. 4 man in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings, Beau Schueth, by one point in a true battle of the best in freestyle bullfighting. Dusty Tuckness, who has three wins under his belt this season, finished third.
With his run in Pendleton, the Hamptonville, N.C., man earned his fourth Bullfighters Only victory this season. He has managed to remain consistent since jumping on tour in the spring.
“Happy Canyon was crazy,” he said of the venue. “It was probably the craziest atmosphere I’ve been around. The crowd literally sits on top of you. They gear it more like a party over there, so it’s really wild.
“It was a lot like a NASCAR race. It was a dark setting, so that really made it feel that way, too.”
Furr knows a lot about NASCAR. His home is just 20 miles from Moorseville, N.C., which has been dubbed Race City USA.
“Bullfighting is a lot like NASCAR in a way,” Furr said. “Fans don’t want to see you get hurt, but if you get knocked down, they don’t want to miss it.”
Furr hasn’t been knocked down much this season, which is why he stands firmly inside the top 10 of the Pendleton Whisky World Standings. He hopes staying on his feet, and keeping the bulls close, will enable him to make a run at that world championship by season’s end.
1. Kris Furr, 87 points on Manuel Costa’s Portuguese Power; 2. Beau Schueth, 86; 3. Dusty Tuckness, 85; 4. Toby Inman 83; 5, Zach Call, 78; 6. Justin Josey, 71.
Josey earns Lewiston title
LEWISTON, Idaho – Justin Josey is officially back among the best in the business with Bullfighters Only.
Josey, who returned to freestyle bullfighting earlier this year after a nine-month hiatus, scored 89.5 points to win BFO-Lewiston, held in conjunction with the Lewiston Roundup. The Apache, Okla., man outlasted the No. 4 man in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings, Beau Schueth, by just half a point to claim the top prize.
“I saw Beau’s fight, and I wasn’t sure I was going to be enough to beat that,” Josey said. “It’s nice to know you wowed enough people to win the whole bullfight.”
He started off his bout with his back to the chute. As Manuel Costa’s ‘Sid Vicious’ charged toward him, the Oklahoman jumped and allowed the bull to pass right between his legs. It was just the beginning of a solid minute of action.
“I needed that,” Josey said. “Every win is a confidence-booster, whether it’s in the first round, the short round or the whole bullfight. Every instance you get to do something like that, you can gain a lot of ground.”
He sits inside the top 20 in the standings and has realized just how much he loves the game.
“Now this feels good and feels like it should rather than how it was a few months ago,” he said. “I had gotten to where I wasn’t really working at it. You can either not work at it and get bad quickly, or you can work at it and get better.
“It’s every day, day in and day out. I feel like I’m more into it now than I’ve ever been.”
While Josey is returning to the game, young Dayton Spiel of Parade, S.D., is continuing his rookie run in a solid way. Spiel began the season through the BFO Development Camps and worked his way up to the tour. On Friday night, he put together a solid 82-point fight to win the BFO stop in Fort Madison, Iowa. As both have learned, it takes dedication and a commitment to improving to make it in Bullfighters Only.
“This is not a job you can just get by with,” Josey said. “You have to go after it if you want it. Anybody can be bull bait, but not everybody can be a bullfighter.”
1. Justin Josey, 89.5 points; 2. Beau Schueth, 89; 3. Weston Rutkowski, 87; 4. Zach Call, 80; 5. Colt Oder, 75; 6. Tristan Seargeant, 71.
FORT MADISON RESULTS
1. Dayton Spiel, 82 points; 2. Dusty Tuckness, 81; 3. Tanner Zarnetski, 78.
Call is calling on Lewiston
Nebraskan one of six men vying for Bullfighters Only title in Idaho city
LEWISTON, Idaho – Zach Call is not where he wants to be in regard to the Bullfighters Only Pendleton Whisky World Standings.
“I’m definitely not sitting anywhere close to where I want in eighth place in the standings,” said Call, 24, of Mullen, Neb. “Hopefully these next few bullfights, I can creep up a little more in the standings.”
His first step will be this weekend during BFO-Lewiston, held in conjunction with the Lewiston Roundup. He will be one of six men who will battle for this year’s championship. His good friend and traveling partner, Beau Schueth of O’Neill, Neb., is also hoping Lewiston is a success story.
“This stretch of BFO events has been a good opportunity to try to make up some ground on the top three guys, Weston (Rutkowski), Toby (Inman) and Dusty (Tuckness),” said Schueth, the No. 4 man in the standings. “We’ll have a little break before our stand-alone bullfight in Austin (Texas on Oct. 28). I want to get a little closer to them over these next few bullfights, then go into Austin with a chance to be No. 1.”
The goal, of course, is to finish the season on the mountaintop and claim the BFO world championship.
Rutkowski did it a year ago during Bullfighters Only’s inaugural season, but there are plenty of opportunities for many of the others to make a move to dethrone the Texan.
It’s a good time to be part of the BFO.
“We’ve been hanging out in Lewiston, and we’ve run into a lot of people who have talked about us,” Call said. “It’s pretty cool to know that our BFO name is definitely out there.”
This marks the third time over in the last 12 months that Bullfighters Only has been to Lewiston. A year ago, BFO pioneer Nate Jestes won the first title in this town of city of 33,000 people. This past May, Tuckness won the first of two major stand-alone events when he claimed the Flexfit Invitational.
“Because of the BFO, we’re getting to come to some of the biggest rodeos in the PRCA, ones that you wouldn’t normally get to go to,” Schueth said. “It’s an awesome rodeo and a nice little town, and it’s just been an awesome feeling.
“I’ve had a good run at it. I’ve fought a lot of Spanish fighting bulls this summer and am really feeling good about it. I just need to keep solid, and everything else will take care of itself when we look at the standings.”
A key to freestyle bullfighting is having the right kind of animal in the mix. Costa Fighting Bulls will provide some of the most athletic and aggressive fighting bulls in the game during the two-day Lewiston event. That will give the bullfighters every opportunity to score points, but it will also increase the danger factor.
“We’ll have a couple of younger guys, and the bull power here is going to be really strong,” Call said. “It’s going to be a test for them to see how they handle it.”
The hottest fighting bulls – the ones that are always charging the bullfighters – have been able to get the best men in the business down from time to time. It’s just another aspect of the sport that makes it so fascinating for fans.
That’s also what draws the men to the game. They know they must test every ounce of ability, and having hot bulls in the mix is something they crave. It helps that the BFO regularly features the very best when it comes to bulls and bullfighters.
“Those guys make you fight better when they’re there with you,” Schueth said. “You know they’re going to bring their best, so you’ve got to bring your best if you want to win. You just feed off each other. It makes everybody better and makes the bullfight better.”
Call has been in the BFO mix for a little more than a year. He has proven his talents, finishing sixth in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings at the close of the 2016 season.
“There were a lot of these guys that were teaching bullfighting schools when I first started out,” Call said. “I look at it as though if you work hard enough, your teachers become your rivals.”
Tuckness takes Ellensburg title
ELLENSBURG, Wash. – Being a veteran, Dusty Tuckness knew just what was necessary during his bout last weekend at the Bullfighters Only event in conjunction with the Ellensburg Rodeo.
The Meeteetse, Wyo., man massaged every point possible out of WAR Fighting Bulls’ Banana Mill to earn the Bullfighters Only-Ellensburg championship and remain among the top three in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings.
“It worked out alright,” Tuckness said of his 83.5-point fight. “I handled my bull decent. I didn’t have the hottest bull, but I got a few things done with him.”
He edged Beau Schueth of O’Neill, Neb., by half a point to claim the championship. Tuckness has now earned more than $21,000 and has earned his third BFO title this season – he also won stand-alone events earlier this year in Lewiston, Idaho, and Decatur, Texas.
Battling Banana Mill, Tuckness used his experience to keep the bull close. The closer to danger the bullfighter gets, the more opportunities there are to score points.
“He was one of the slower bulls, so it helped that I kept him corned up,” he said. “He kept getting distracted toward the outside, so I had to keep pushing him to stay close.”
Tuckness used several maneuvers to do so. On a couple of occasions, he pulled off a move called a “cape,” in which the bullfighter side steps the bull; as the animal moved through, Tuckness draped his right arm across its back signifying a bull passing through a cape.
With each step, though, the fans in Ellensburg remained on the edges of their seats. That’s just the way the competitors like it.
“Everybody in Ellensburg really enjoyed the bullfights,” he said. “When we were signing autographs afterward, that’s all everybody was talking about. Many of them said that they liked it years ago when the bullfights were at Ellensburg and that they really liked it back with the BFO.”
1. Dusty Tuckness, 83.5 points on WAR Fighting Bulls’ Banana Mill
2. Beau Schueth, 83
3. Zach Call, 78
Furr scores a hat trick
KENNEWICK, Wash. – Kris Furr isn’t content being one of the best competitors in Bullfighters Only.
He wants to win the world championship. Based on his performance this August, he’s going to be a contender by the time the season wraps up. In less than a month, the Hamptonville, N.C., man has won three event titles – most recently he won BFO-Kennewick, which was part of the Benton County Fair and Rodeo this past week.
“I’ve been working my way into the top five, one event at a time,” said Furr, who sits 5th in the BFO Pendleton Whisky World Standings.
He earned the championship with an 85-point bout against WAR Fighting Bulls’ Two Timer, a quick and aggressive bull that stayed right on Furr’s heels throughout the 60-second bout.
“He caught me there at the end and gave me one heck of a hooking, but that was fun, too,” he said. “It could’ve been better and could’ve been prettier, but I knew it was going to be tough in Kennewick. I’d seen the videos from last year, and I knew the arena was going to be tiny.
“I also knew they were bringing some young, hot and fresh bulls. It’s more difficult when you’ve got bulls that hot in a smaller arena, because it’s hard to get separation. I thought it made it more fun even though it was harder.”
As ‘Two Timer’ came sprinting out of the chute, Furr threw a solid fake, but the animal turned back quickly. Furr made a few rounds with the bull, then had a step-through in tight quarters. More fakes, rounds and back fakes followed, then the bull got the better of the North Carolinian at the end of the fight.
“The thing about those small arenas is that as soon as you call for him, he’s on you the whole time,” he said. “It gives the bull more of an advantage. It’s definitely a little different. The fight went by so fast, because he was on me from the word go.”
That’s the way all three fights went Friday night. Furr and his fellow bullfighters – Dayton Spiel and Alex McWilliams – all took a hooking.
“The bulls WAR brought were all hot, all on you,” Furr said. “That’s exactly what you want, and that’s what makes the bullfights so much fun for everyone.”
1. Kris Furr, 85 points
2. Dayton Spiel, 78
3. Alex McWilliams, 77
Furr is on fire
HERMISTON, Ore. – Kris Furr made the most of a week of Bullfighters Only competition.
After winning the championship at BFO-Sidney, Iowa, the North Carolina man followed it in a dominating fashion, claiming the BFO-Hermiston championship through the two-day competition last week. He’s now No. 5 in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings.
“It feels great to win both those events,” Furr said. “The one thing I wanted to do was be consistent. I don’t want to be just the middle of the pack. I want people to know I’m a competitor and that I’m there to win.”
He did just that at the event held in association with the Farm-City ProRodeo. Furr won both go-rounds to walk away with the overall championship. In all, he walked away with $3,500 in Hermiston, which shot him up the standings.
He won the first round with an 84-point fight against WAR Fighting Bulls’ War Party, then maneuvered around WAR’s Wolverine for 85 points to earn the second-round victory.
“I’ve been dying to get in front of WAR’s bulls,” Furr said. “I’ve seen a bunch of videos of those bulls, and they just look fun to get around. I was glad I got a shot and came out on top.”
In his few days off between Sidney and Hermiston, Furr found some time to work on his game.
“I met (fellow bullfighter) Dayton Spiel in South Dakota, and we went to the gym while we were there,” he said. “I figured out what I was messing up on jumping those bulls in Sidney, and I fixed that.”
It paid off.
“My first bull was one bullfighters would love to have every day,” Furr said. “I had to drag all the points out of my second bull that I could, but it worked out for me.
The goal is winning the BFO world championship, and while No. 1 man Weston Rutkowski has a big lead in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings, at least Furr has a shot.
That’s all he can hope for as a first-year bullfighter in the BFO.
First round: 1. Kris Furr, 84 points on WAR Fighting Bulls’ War Party; 2. Justin Josey, 74; 3. Dayton Spiel, 74.
Second round: 1. Kris Furr, 85 points on WAR Fighting Bulls’ Wolverine; 2. Dayton Spiel, 78; 3. Justin Josey, 74.
Average: 1. Kris Furr, 169 points on two fights; 2. Dayton Spiel, 152; 3. Justin Josey, 150.
Inman crowned Sikeston champ
SIKESTON, Mo. – Toby Inman has his sights set on the biggest prize in freestyle bullfighting, the Bullfighters Only World Championship.
“I’m nipping at Weston’s heels,” Inman said, referring to the BFO Pendleton Whisky World Standings leader and reigning BFO World Champ, Weston Rutkowski, “I think he can feel me breathing down his neck.”
The two talented bullfighters matched their skills Thursday and Friday during BFO-Sikeston in conjunction with the Sikeston Jaycees Bootheel Rodeo, and Inman claimed the championship belt. The Davis Junction, Ill., man won the opening round with an 86.5-point bout, then followed it Friday with a solid 83. His two-fight cumulative score of 169.5 points was enough to edge Rutkowski by half a point.
“I thought Weston stole it from me Friday night,” Inman said, referring to the Texan’s 90-point fight to win the second round. “Thankfully I was able to pull enough out.”
It marked his third victory in less than a month. More importantly, it pushed him into the No. 2 position in the standings. A key, he said, was being able to remain calm even when the bulls he battled in Sikeston got a little too close and got Inman on the ground.
“In bullfighting, you’re going to get run over, but you’ve got to pop right back up and get back in the fight. I’m getting better with each fight, and I’m still having fun.”
It’s easy to have fun when he’s winning, but there were other aspects of BFO-Sikeston that made for an overall amazing experience.
“The place was packed,” Inman said. “They were loud and excited, and that’s how you want every crowd. Whether I was getting hooked or Weston was making some nice rounds, they were extra loud.
“Because of the great committee and the fans, it was a great bullfight. Anytime you can have fans excited and want you there, it makes your job as a bullfighter that much more pleasant.”
First round: 1. Toby Inman, 86.5 points; 2. Tanner Zarnetski, 84.5; 3. Schell Apple, 83; 4. Beau Schueth, 80; 5. Toby Inman, 79.
Second round: 1. Toby Inman, 90 points; 2. (tie) Tanner Zarnetski and Beau Schueth, 84; 4. Toby Inman, 83; 5. Schell Apple, 0.
Average: 1. Toby Inman, 169.5 points on two fights; 2. Weston Rutkowski, 169; 3. Tanner Zarnetski, 168.5; 4. Beau Schueth, 164; 5. Schell Apple, 83 points on one fight.
BFO's big rodeo run continues
Top bullfighters will be featured in Sikeston, Mo., and Hermiston, Ore.
Beau Schueth needs no extra motivation when it comes to fighting bulls, but he’ll take it. This week, he returns to the Sikeston (Mo.) Jaycees Bootheel Rodeo to defend his Bullfighters Only title, and he knows he’ll get all the help he needs from the knowledgeable fans.
“It’s just an awesome atmosphere, and the crowd really gets into it,” said Schueth, the No. 4 man in the BFO Pendleton Whisky World Standings from O’Neill, Neb. “When the crowd’s into it, that makes me want to do something crazier and fight harder for them.
“They love the bullfights. They pack that place every night and definitely gets your motor running when that many people are cheering you on.”
BFO-Sikeston takes place Thursday and Friday right after the rodeo performance. BFO-Hermiston at the Farm-City ProRodeo in northern Oregon, takes place Wednesday and Thursday.
In both events, the bullfighters will compete both nights, and the man with the best two-fight cumulative score will be crowned champion at each location.
“The reason we do the bullfights is that it’s an event you don’t see everywhere,” said Jeremiah Quick, now in his third year as a director of Bootheel Rodeo. “It’s old school man vs. beast, and you’ve got the rankest bulls in this part of the country and the top bullfighters in the world with BFO.
“For us, the fans love it, and Bullfighters Only puts on the best bullfights you can get right now.”
Of the five men competing in Sikeston, four are ranked among the top five in the standings. That includes the No. 1 man, Weston Rutkowski, the reigning BFO world champion from Haskell, Texas.
“This is my third time to Sikeston, and I haven’t won it yet,” he said. “I was second my first time, and last year I was third. This is another one of those rodeos that I really want to win. I come to every bullfight with the mindset to win it. Hopefully I can put all the pieces together and cross this one off the list.”
He'll have to defeat a very talented group of bullfighters to earn that coveted BFO-Sikeston title; in addition to Schueth, the event will also feature No. 3 Toby Inman, No. 5 Schell Apple and Tanner Zarnetski, the 12th-ranked man in the standings.
“It means a lot that I won it last year and that I’m coming back to defend my title,” Schueth said. “It’s an awesome rodeo and a great bullfight.”
This will be the first year for Bullfighters Only to be in Hermiston, but the excitement level is just the same. The three men in the field – Kris Furr, Justin Josey and Dayton Spiel – have a ton of talent and will be showcasing it in front of a big crowd in a new stadium.
Josey has returned to the game after taking some time away, and Spiel has burst onto the bullfighting scene this year. Furr is coming off his first victory this past weekend in Sidney, Iowa.
Furr wraps up Sidney title
SIDNEY, Iowa – When Kris Furr cross-jumped his bull Saturday night, he put a nice polish on his first Bullfighters Only title on the final night of Iowa’s Championship Rodeo.
“I had a good bull, and he was a lot of fun,” said Furr, 26, of Hamptonville, N.C. “He wasn’t extremely aggressive, so I decided to keep him close to me. I made a few rounds, then I’d square back up with him and get some fakes on him. I knew I had to keep him hooked, keep him interested.”
Furr posted an 86-point bullfight while matched with Double S Bulls’ Teen Spirit. By making rounds with the bull, he kept the little red animal close on his heels. As soon as Teen Spirit would run through the fake, Furr would gather the bull back in tight.
“The first win is unreal. I guess I’m doing something right.”
It was a simple game plan that worked well, and he remains firmly in the top 10 in the Bullfighters Only Pendleton Whisky World Standings.
“It’s pretty crazy to think that I can be in the top 10 with all those great guys like Weston Rutkowski, Toby Inman and Dusty Tuckness,” he said. “It’s pretty surreal for a little guy from North Carolina.
“It’s awesome to be part of the BFO. I remember last year watching everybody going to them, and I just wanted to be there. Now that I’m part of it, it’s amazing. Every week I’m getting to compete against the best guys in the world. That’s what I like more than anything.”
That’s part of what Bullfighters Only brings to fans at every stop. Furr earned his championship by being the best of a 12-man field, which featured a preliminary round of four three-man bullfights. The winners from the first four days of competition advanced to Saturday’s championship round.
Furr was joined in the finale by Dakota Knight, Cody Greer and Justin Josey, and the North Carolinian came out on top.
“I just want to keep winning,” he said. “I’m laying one brick at a time and hopefully build that wall by the end of the year. If I can keep doing well and go to Las Vegas, then I think I can finish pretty well.”
Worst to first
Rutkowski finds the Dodge City winner’s circle after finishing last in 2016
DODGE CITY, Kan. – About halfway through his 60-second fight Tuesday night, Weston Rutkowski was flipped to the ground hard by a Rockin’ B and Magnifica bull called Manchada.
Bullfighters Only’s reigning world champion was down, but he wasn’t there for long.
“I got caught throwing too many left fakes, but he kept putting me in that shoulder, so I had to,” he said of his bull’s advances. “He cut me off and flipped me, but I was able to catch my whereabouts and figure out where I was.”
It was a solid rebound that led to his 86.5-point, and a BFO-Dodge City victory. He sealed the title by cross-jumping the bull at the end of his bout.
“I got to prove to the people in Dodge that I know how to fight a bull,” he said with a laugh, pointing out that he finished in last place a year ago during the BFO’s inaugural visit to the western Kansas town.
“When you’ve got guys like Zach Call and Cody Greer after you, you better finish it with a bang or else you’ll go home second.”
Of the five men in the fight, Rutkowski was the third to go. Schell Apple of Fay, Okla., had posted a 77-point fight, which was followed by an 81 from Beau Schueth of O’Neill, Neb.
Call’s bull, “Dueno de Nada”, tested the Mullen, Neb., man, but faded toward the end of the bout.
Greer, of Chelsea, Okla., started off a solid fight, but the bull got the better of him in a couple of situations towards the end of his 60 seconds.
Rutkowski utilized a strong bull, even though the Haskell, Texas, bullfighter had to be the aggressor in several instances throughout the match.
“I finally drew pretty good,” he said. “You have to take advantage of the good ones. Every bullfight is important, and it’s good to win this one. Now we move forward and get ready for Sikeston (Mo.).”
1. Weston Rutkowski, 86.5 points; 2. Zach Call, 84; 3. Beau Schueth, 81; 4. Cody Greer, 80.5; 5. Schell Apple, 77.
Double the fun
Bullfighters Only’s top stars to battle for titles in Dodge City, Sidney
Dodge City, KS - Zach Call and Cody Greer understand they are behind the eight ball when it comes to the race for the Bullfighters Only world championship.
“I have a lot of ground to make up,” said Call of Mullen, Neb., the ninth-ranked bullfighter in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings.
Both bullfighters will get twice the opportunities this week in Dodge City, Kan., and Sidney, Iowa. Call and Greer will be part of a five-man battle Tuesday during Dodge City Roundup Rodeo’s Xtreme Bulls Tour/Bullfighters Only competition.
“I used to go to college there, so it’s like a homecoming,” said Call, who attended Dodge City Community College from 2012-13. “I’m excited to go back, and it should be a really good bullfight.”
He and Greer will be joined by reigning world champion Weston Rutkowski, Beau Schueth and Schell Apple. Greer – who is just returning from six weeks off due to an injury sustained in early June – will then make the 400-mile drive to Sidney in Iowa’s southwest corner to compete Wednesday.
The competition there will feature four three-man bouts set for Tuesday-Friday. The winners of each night will advance to Saturday’s championship round. Call is scheduled to compete Thursday and hopes to return for the final performance. Call would love to make it three big bullfights in a five-day span by earning a trip to Sidney’s short round.
“A lot of it depends on how the first bullfight goes,” Call said. “If you win your round, most of the time its pretty smooth.”
Things haven’t gone so smoothly for the Nebraska man as of late. He’d like to change that around this week.
“Right now, I’m not really happy with how the last two events have gone,” said Call, who finished third last weekend at the BFO stop in Burlington, Colo. “I like winning.”
There’s nothing better than having multiple opportunities to clean up a few things in one man’s game. Take his last bout in eastern Colorado; since then, he’s gone over the video multiple times and dissected every second of it.
“I look at my weak points and try to focus on them and make them strong points,” Call said. “You can look at what you did right and pat yourself on the back, but it’s the things that you did wrong that are keeping you from winning.”
There were very few hiccups in Rutkowski’s run to the world title in 2016, but he always points to his run in Dodge City last year as the struggle he hopes to avoid.
“That was the first time I’d ever taken last place at any bullfight I’d ever been in,” said Rutkowski, the No. 2 man in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings. “I got a piece of humble pie.
“It’s a great rodeo, and we will have great bulls coming from Brett Hall. It’s another one on the list that I want to cross off, and I want to prove to those people that I can fight one.”
It’s that kind of mentality that makes Bullfighters Only a big-time draw, whether it’s one night in southwest Kansas or five nights at Iowa’s Championship Rodeo.
DODGE CITY CONTESTANTS
Inman dominates in Salinas
SALINAS, Calif. – Many things have changed for Toby Inman since 2009, the last time he earned the freestyle bullfighting title in Salinas.
One thing that hasn’t: He is still one of the smoothest men to have ever tested his skills on the California Rodeo Salinas track. He proved it this past weekend by dominating the Bullfighters Only competition – he won the first three rounds and won the overall championship on a four-fight total of 335 points, 25.5 points better than the runner-up, Weston Rutkowski.
“I was feeling good the first three rounds and was on top of my game,” said Inman of Davis Junction, Ill. “I had good draws, and I was soaking up every bit of it.
“I’m going to enjoy this for a while.”
He should. He’s adapted his game considerably since his last Salinas title, then in his mid-20s. Now in his mid-30s, Inman returned to the winner’s circle by showcasing his athleticism in a different way.
“My style has changed to fit how I move now,” he said. “I don’t move as fast, but I’m still fighting as good I’ve always fought even though I’m slowing down more. I’ve always jumped bulls, but nowadays, jumping isn’t good enough. You’ve got to pull off these big tricks to get a check.
“When I was younger, I just did it. I could run a marathon, but I didn’t train for it. Now at 34 years old, I’ve got to run a mile or two to get in shape. I train my body more than I did before.”
The biggest score of the weekend came in the second round when Inman posted an 89-point fight. He began with a running “Gainer” over the black Spanish bull. The animal stayed close, and Inman was remained just out of harm’s way for the entire fight.
“It would’ve been cool to take all four nights, but I’ll take what I’ve got,” he said. “I’m glad I got to town early, because I was soaking up as much of Salinas as I could. That rodeo and the people there are awesome.”
Round 1: 1. Toby Inman, 85 points; 2. Zach Flatt, 81; 3. Beau Schueth, 79.5.
Round 2: 1. Toby Inman, 89 points; 2. Cody Emerson, 85; 3. Beau Schueth, 80.
Round 3: 1. Toby Inman, 85.5 points; 2. Weston Rutkowski, 80.5; 3. Cody Emerson, 78.
Round 4: 1. Beau Schueth, 84 points; 2. Zach Flatt, 83; 3. Weston Rutkowski, 82.
Average: 1. Toby Inman, 335 points on four fights; 2. Weston Rutkowski, 319.5; 3. Zach Flatt, 312.5.
California is calling
Schueth riding a hot streak heading to historic bullfights in Salinas
SALINAS, Calif. – There is no hotter man on the Bullfighters Only tour than Nebraskan Beau Schueth.
He's performed well at nearly every stop he’s made and is coming off first- and second-place finishes this past week. He won the title in Colorado Springs, Colo., then was the runner-up the next day in Fortuna, Calif. The weekend before, he won BFO-Vernal, Utah and placed second at the Cowtown Invitational in Calgary, Alberta.
Now he’s going to put his streak to the test during one of the longest running freestyle bullfights in the country, held in conjunction with California Rodeo Salinas. The action takes place Thursday, July 20th through Sunday, July 23rd.
“Ever since I started freestyling bulls, one of my goals is to fight in Salinas,” said Schueth, 25, of O’Neill, Neb.; this will be his first venture to one of the most storied complexes in the game. “For bullfighters, it’s a pretty historic bullfight and goes back to before bullfights were in the mainstream.”
Two decades ago, freestyle bullfighting was a big part of rodeo. When the Wrangler Bullfight Tour was disbanded in 2001, the sport virtually went underground, but California Rodeo Salinas has kept the tradition alive.
Bullfighters Only has created public demand for the sport. The bullfighters utilize their tremendous athleticism to try to outwit and outmaneuver equally athletic bulls, which are bred specifically for this type of fight.
While this is a new stop for the Nebraskan, it’s familiar ground for Toby Inman. The veteran has competed in Salinas a number of times, and he will return this week for the first time since 2010.
“I won it in 2009,” said Inman, 34, of Davis Junction, Ill. “It’s one of those shows you can’t really forget, and you meet so many great people there.”
There is a grand opportunity for each individual in the game to cash in. in the BFO, dollars equal championship points. The man with the most money won at the conclusion of the 2017 season will be crowned world champion. A lot could change in Salinas.
“It’s a big deal for me, especially coming back to bullfighting after taking several years off. I was lucky to even get in it this year, so I’m going to take it.” Inman said. “There are a lot of opportunities to win it and a lot of opportunities to let it slip through your fingertips.”
Inman wins Fortuna with a 90
FORTUNA, Calif – When Toby Inman started his final bullfight Friday night, he made a statement with a backflip over Costa Fighting Bulls’ Little Foot.
The Illinois bullfighter cleared Little Foot but landed on his knees. He picked things up in the championship round, matching moves with the feisty Spanish fighting bull for 90 points to win BFO-Fortuna.
“What a good feeling,” he said. “It’s weird not walking around gimpy after a bullfight.”
He won his opening round, scoring 82 points, to join two other bullfighters in the short go-round: Zach Call of Mullen, Neb., and Beau Schueth of O’Neill, Neb.
“I was happy to get in the short-go because I didn’t know if my bullfight was enough to get me there,” said Inman, who bested the other two contenders: Schueth scored 86.5 points to finish as the runner-up, while Zach Call placed third.
Tanner Zarnetski of Texarkana, Texas, earned a bonus for the best trick of the competition, and that had the veteran Inman thinking about what he wanted to do in the final round.
“Tanner pulled off an incredible reverse knee fake, and my brain was telling me to either top that or go for the win,” Inman said. “I wanted both. But I just went for the win and had a good time.
“I had an honest Spanish fighting bull and used it to my benefit.”
Little Foot has gained a reputation for being a solid bull. He helped Evan Allard to the victory in Pendleton, Ore., and guided Cody Webster to the championship in Caldwell, Idaho; both events were during the BFO’s inaugural tour in 2016.
“I made some rounds and some nice step-throughs,” Inman said of his bout. “He clipped me once, but it wasn’t enough to be a deduction. He just kept coming, then I gave him a break and jumped him. About that time, the (40-second) buzzer went.”
At any time after 40 seconds, bullfighters can end the fight, and that’s just what Inman did.
“It was so jam up that I didn’t want to quit, but that little voice in my head said it was good enough,” he said. “I decided to take it.
Round 1: 1. Zach Call, 78 points; 2. Tanner Zarnetski, 72; 3. Garrett Wilkinson, 72.
Round 2: 1. Toby Inman, 82 points; 2. (tie) Dayton Spiel and Ely Sharkey, 74.
Round 3: 1. (tie) Beau Schueth and Alex McWilliams, 80.5 points (Schueth advanced on tie-breaker); 3. Schell Apple, 73.
Championship Round: 1. Toby Inman, 90 points; 2. Beau Schueth, 86.5; 3. Zach Call, 78.
Bouts in the Redwoods
Bullfighters Only taking its game to the northern California town of Fortuna
FORTUNA, Calif – If quad racing wasn’t an extreme enough event for fans in this northern California community, Friday’s event is about to be intensified.
This year’s event will include nine of the greatest men from Bullfighters Only, a wild and Western way of showcasing true athleticism in the form of freestyle bullfighting. One man vs. one beast in a 60-second bout that features aggressive fighting bulls and men who maneuver around them while staying within inches of their pointy horns and stomping feet.
“We’re going to introduce the sport to a gnarly bunch of people,” BFO founder Aaron Ferguson said. “There is a track that’s probably 100 feet around, and they race and party all day. it’s going to be incredible.”
“I’ve heard we’re going to be surrounded by Redwoods, and there’s a lot of money up for grabs,” said Beau Schueth, the No. 5 man in the BFO Pendleton Whisky World Standings from O’Neill, Neb. “It’s a good time for the bullfight too, because we can work that event, then just stay in California until we have the bullfight in Salinas (Calif.).”
Toby Inman of Davis Junction, Ill., is returning to the ring for the first time in more than a month, and he’s ready to get back to work in the game he loves.
“I think I might have forgotten how to do it,” he said with a laugh. “I’m excited, because I have it in my mind that I’m going to win. Of course, if you don’t have that mindset, then I guess you probably shouldn’t be doing this.”
The event will feature nine bullfighters, competing in three rounds of three-man bouts. The top scores will advance to the championship round, and the high score there will claim the title.
Freestyle bullfighting is not new but the Bullfighters Only has created public demand for the sport. The events feature man vs. beast in a head-to-head battle inside an arena. The bullfighters utilize their tremendous athleticism to try to outwit and outmaneuver equally athletic bulls.
BFO-Fortuna is one of two events taking place this week, with BFO wrapping up last night the in Colorado Springs. Beau Schueth was crowned the champion on Thursday night, and will look to keep his streak alive in Fortuna on Friday.
Josey is back for the action
Oklahoma man returns to the game he loves with Bullfighters Only
VERNAL, Utah – Justin Josey’s head wasn’t in the game.
When the game is freestyle bullfighting, men must be on top of every situation, or the outcomes could be deadly. The Spanish fighting bulls are mean and aggressive, and it takes a bullfighter who is not only fleet of foot but also can react and control the animal’s actions.
“I didn’t think I was fighting bulls the way I wanted to be,” said Josey, 22, of Apache, Okla. “I decided to take a breather … for about nine months.”
It did wonders, and he returned to the ring for the Bullfighters Only-Vernal competition, in conjunction with the famous Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo. Josey scored 83 points with a textbook bout against Manuel Costa’s “Thumper”.
“I’ve never been so excited for a bullfight in my life,” he said. “ I’m all kinked out instead of kinked up.”
That time away from the arena was just what the young bullfighter needed.
Whether it was a bit of discontent with his work or a bit of burnout that comes with a game as dangerous as freestyle bullfighting, he was not in the right frame of mind to do what’s necessary.
“Josey is one of those kids that just has raw talent,” said Weston Rutkowski, the reigning BFO world champion who sits No. 2 in the 2017 Pendleton Whisky World Standings. “He’s very flashy and can surely wow the crowd.
“Fighting bulls is a lot more mental than it is physical. In this game, I think it’s smart to step away from fighting bulls if your mind and heart aren’t into it. I think it was a good move for him, and now I’m interested to see how he handles it.”
“I didn’t realize how much I loved an animal like I do the Spanish fighting bulls,” Josey said. “I’m just excited for the opportunity to work with these bulls again.”
Getting back into the game wasn’t easy for the Oklahoma talent, and he had to gain the approval of the 13 other BFO Pioneers.
“We all love Josey and no one was mad when he decided to step away,” said BFO founder, Aaron Ferguson. “BFO is a platform for the best bullfighters in the world and Justin is one of the best. I am excited to see him back in the arena with some fresh perspectives.”
“Being part of the BFO means everything,” he said. “Ever since I first started, I wanted to be the best freestyle bullfighter to do it. At one point, I lost my vision of that goal. I think the thing that works is that you have the best in the business in the BFO. What’s a world championship if you’re not going against the best in the world.
“Whenever you wear that gold buckle around, you want to say you won it against the best guys in the world and fought the best bulls in the world. That’s what the BFO brings.”
Schueth returns to winner’s circle
VERNAL, Utah – Beau Schueth finally got what he’s been looking for over the last 11 months.
“It definitely feels good to finally get a win,” said Schueth, who earned the Bullfighters Only-Vernal championship which took place in conjunction with the Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo. “That’s pretty huge.”
Schueth opened the three-day bullfights by matching moves with 12X and Costa’s Portuguese Power for 85.5 points. He then held on with the highest bullfighter score to win the tie-breaker over Dayton Spiel of Parade, S.D., to claim the title – Spiel posted his 85.5-point fight on Saturday, the final night of the competition.
“I thought I had a good bullfight, but I didn’t know if 85.5 points would hold up,” said Schueth, 25, of O’Neill, Neb. “Now that I’ve got the W, I’m looking to keep things rolling through the next few weeks.”
Once the powerful black bull locked in on Schueth, the fight was on.
“He was a real stout black bull,” he said. “I like starting them with a fake to my right. Just looking at him, I didn’t think he was going to really blow through (the fakes) hard, so I knew it was going to be a tight bullfight the whole time. Luckily I had a back fake out of there after I made a couple of rounds and step-throughs.”
As the fight progressed, Schueth was the aggressor and continued to keep the bull within firing range. That’s important in freestyle bullfighting, because half the score is based on the animal, its willingness to stay in the fight and its aggressiveness.
Schueth’s final maneuver – the one he was “selling” the fight on to hopefully impress the judges even more – was to be his patented “Spine Grind”, in which the he jumps over the bull and lightly touches the animal’s back with his cleats; it’s much like how skateboarders and snowboarders grind on a rail.
“He got my drag foot and flipped me over,” Schueth said. “At least I got over him, but I would’ve liked it better if I’d been able to land on my feet.
“He was definitely a fun little bull, but you know you’re going to fight good ones when Manuel (Costa) brings the pen.”
The weekend marked BFO’s first trip to Vernal. By being out the first night, Schueth noticed that the crowd didn’t know what to expect at first. That changed quickly.
“Once they figured out what we were doing, they really got into it,” he said. “They loved it. It was cool to see how much they got into it. That was awesome.”
Round 1: Beau Schueth, 85.5 points; 2. Weston Rutkowski, 82; 3. Zach Arthur, 75.
Round 2: 1. Evan Allard, 78 points; 2. Travis Gidley, 73.5; 3. Ely Sharkey, 70.5.
Round 3: Dayton Spiel, 85.5 points; 2. Justin Josey, 83; 3. Kris Furr, 75.
Spiel making a statement
Young South Dakotan is excited to be part of Bullfighters Only season
VERNAL, Utah – Dayton Spiel is just 22 years old, but he made quite an impression in his first Bullfighters Only competition a month ago.
Spiel finished as the runner-up at the BFO Cavender’s Cup in Decatur, Texas. What makes it more impressive is that it was just his first freestyle bullfighting competition ever. He’s about to embark on his second event with the BFO this week in conjunction with the Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo, with performances beginning at 7 :30 p.m. Thursday, July 6-Saturday, July 8, at Western Park in Vernal.
“I showed up one time, and now I’ve got to prove to everybody that I can stick around and hopefully do it for the whole tour,” said Spiel, who lives in the tiny town of Parade, S.D., a community of 10 people on the Cheyenne River Reservation. “I’m going to make a statement, and I hope it’s a good statement.”
He is part of the Bullfighters Only Developmental Camp system, where top athletes are selected from around the country to train with the BFO’s top athletes. Spiel advanced to the BFO Super Camp, which took place the week after Memorial Day in Decatur. He won a qualifying competition to be part of the Cavender’s Cup, where he faced Bullfighters Only’s greatest stars including the famed bull “Chute Boss”.
“Freestyle bullfighting is a rush, and the atmosphere with that group of guys is outrageous,” he said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and you can beat it. The environment you are in and the talent involved with BFO is unbelievable.”
Spiel was raised around rodeo. His father was a saddle bronc rider, and he and his brothers have ridden broncs and bulls. He found his way to protection bullfighting by chance.
“I jumped in the practice pen in junior high,” he said. “I fought a bull riding in my seventh-grade year because a guy got hurt. I’ve been doing cowboy protection, but I wanted to learn more about freestyle, so I went to a school with (BFO pioneer) Nate Jestes. He told me about the BFO.
“To be part of BFO right now and to be the first Super Camp selectee is amazing. That’s something I’ll probably hold onto forever.”
He brings a natural touch to the game and a size advantage never before seen in bullfighting at 6’5” tall.
Freestyle bullfighting is a true man-vs.-beast game of skills, courage and the ability for a bullfighter to use his own athleticism against an athletic and quick Spanish fighting bull that is bred for this kind of fight.
By growing up on a ranch, the long, tall cowboy has a solid foundation.
“Dayton has been around livestock his entire life and is able to read and react,” BFO Founder Aaron Ferguson said. “Any time you’re around animals, it helps you read them and how they move.”
Spiel put his talents to the test in Vernal. The competition features three three-man bullfights, one for each night of the rodeo. The high score from all three nights will receive a cash bonus.
“I’ve been working hard. I’ve been able to put in two-a-days when I’m not working cowboy protection, and on those days that I am fighting bulls, I’m still working out at least once a day. I’d say I’m definitely more mentally ready, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Now he hopes all that work pays off. Not only will he be competing this week in Utah, he will be part of a small stand-alone event next week in Fortuna, Calif.
“It’s still new, so it all hasn’t really hit me yet,” Spiel said. “I want to prove to myself that the first time wasn’t a fluke. My goal is to be in Las Vegas this winter and run at a world championship.
“But I’m still a little star struck that I’m in that elite group of guys. I never thought I’d be in there, and it’s so amazing.”
So is Dayton Spiel.
Burelle’s Picks - Vernal, UT
In Round 1, Weston Rutkowski should continue to roll as long as he can stay off the fence. His win in Cody over Tuckness should help his confidence and get him back to fighting in the middle of the pen. I don’t think Zach Arthur has the legs under him to run with the big dogs yet, and Beau looked great in Cody but was still lacking that flash he needs to win.
Round 2 goes to the veteran, Evan Allard. I just think he fights bulls to smooth and has to much experience for either of the young kids to beat him out. I know Travis Gidley learned to fight bulls under Evan but you can bet he hasn’t taught him everything he knows yet.
Round 3 should be the most exciting round of competition. Dayton Spiel put on an amazing fight against Chute Boss in Decatur and will be feeling bold when he shows up in Utah. We'll also see the return of Justin Josey, who after some time away from the sport seems to be craving fighting bulls again. But, I am going to give the victory in this round to Kris Furr. He is a rookie on the BFO tour but not a rookie bullfighter. Furr showed us how good he is at his debut event in Lewiston, Idaho and I think he is going to start moving up the Pendleton Whisky World Standings pretty quickly.
Rutkowski wins Cody title
CODY, Wyo. – The reigning Bullfighters Only world champion has regained his form.
Weston Rutkowski showcased his true talent during Friday’s BFO competition in conjunction with the Cody/Yellowstone Xtreme Bulls, matching moves with WAR Fighting Bulls’ War Machine for 86.5 points.
He upended the BFO Pendleton Whisky World Standings leader Dusty Tuckness, who earned the championship in Cody a year ago. It also moved Rutkowski to within reach of Tuckness’ standings lead heading into a stretch of rodeo runs that will make up most of the summer.
“I feel like I handled business, but there were a few things I would change if I could,” Rutkowski said. “He was wanting to blow through my first two fakes, so I knew if I kept hitting him, he would end up quitting.
“I was playing a chess game to stay close enough to keep him firing but trying to stay out of his way.”
After a couple of solid fakes, Rutkowski made a round to keep the bull close, then set up another fake.
As the bull charged again, the bullfighter allowed the animal to slide by with a cape maneuver – as the bull steamed past, Rutkowski held his left arm over the animal as if it were passing through a matador’s cape.
The moves kept coming, with the tandem circling once followed by Rutkowski throwing another fake. As the bull moved past, the bullfighter kept circling with the bull to maintain that contact. But War Machine took control quickly.
“I got caught trying to keep that bull engaged,” he said, explaining how War Machine had him scrambling up the fence. “Sometimes you get where you can’t get out. Fortunately, I was able to get back in the fight and make my sell.”
Rutkowski closed the bout by cross-jumping the bull and showing the big crowd in Cody that he’s no longer suffering from groin and calf injuries that had plagued him late in the spring.
“I’m 100 percent, but that was after I took all of June off,” he said. “I needed it. I was able to do a lot of light workouts and rehab.
“I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a good summer.”
ANDY BURELLE'S PICKS
Before each event, freestyle bullfighting legend and BFO color commentator,
Andy Burelle makes his predictions. Comment below if you agree or disagree!
Cody Stampede - June 30th, 2017
In my opinion this comes down to two guys in this bullfight. It’s “The Beard” VS “The Legend”, and I think Rutkowski and Tuckness are going to have an epic battle. I don’t think the other three men are going be able to hang, and I’ll tell you why.
Tanner Zarnetski is closing in on the top guys, especially with tricks like the new “kneel fake" he broke out at the Cavender's Cup. He could almost be called a contender but isn’t quite there yet.
Beau Scheuth is handy but I just don’t think he's flashy enough to take on the leaders. He looked pretty good in Decatur against WAR’s Zombie Express but needs to show more consistency.
Tate Rhoads has been looking good recently with a couple straight short round appearances but he seems to weaken in the last 15 seconds of his bullfight. If this kid would just step out of his comfort zone, he would watch his bank account grow.
Back to Tuckness VS Rutkowski: This is Tuck’s hometown event and he won it last year. He will surely shine under the lights in Cody and the crowd and announcers will really get behind him which can be a major benefit. But, I’m a gambler and I’m going to have to pick the BFO Champ, Weston Rutkowski to win the event. He’s been running scared at the last two events, both from the bulls, and Dusty (who passed him in the standings). He’s had some time to get healthy so there should be no excuses. I think he’s finally sick of losing to Tuck and “The Beard” is going to show us why he wears the 2016 BFO World Champion title belt.
BFO to kick off Summer Tour
Cody Stampede will be the first of several big events for Bullfighters Only
The Cody (Wyo.) Stampede is one of the most established events in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, with a history that dates back nearly 100 years.
It’s also the kick-off point for Bullfighters Only’s summer run that includes more than a dozen events from June through mid-September. The namesake town of showman “Buffalo” Bill Cody is the perfect venue for freestyle bullfighting, the most extreme of all Western sports.
“Last year was our first year touring to rodeos,” said Aaron Ferguson, the BFO’s founder and CEO. “We learned so much and we’re excited to go back and put on an even better show in Cody and everywhere we go.
“Cody is special because we’ve got Dusty Tuckness competing in front of his hometown crowd.”
Tuckness is the seven-time and reigning PRCA Bullfighter of the Year from nearby Meeteetse, Wyo., and he leads the Pendleton Whisky BFO World Standings with $20,000 in earnings. He also is the reigning Cody Stampede BFO champion.
“It’s always great to come back home to not only compete but also work the rodeo as a whole,” Tuckness said. “To be able to bring the BFO along makes it that much better.”
Tuckness is a Bullfighters Only pioneer, a group of elite bullfighters that have been part of the BFO since its inception back in 2015. Because Cody is just 30 miles from Meeteetse, it’s the perfect place for Tuckness to showcase his tremendous athleticism in front of his friends and family.
“I think it’s going to be a great competition this year,” Ferguson said of the Cody bullfight. “Our contractor, WAR Fighting Bulls, just moved to Montana and has an awesome pen of bulls. We’ve got a good lineup of bullfighters again this year as well.”
That lineup includes the reigning world champion, Weston Rutkowski of Haskell, Texas.
“When I got to Cody last year, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Rutkowski, the No. 2 man in the standings. “Just being a kid from west Texas, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But I learned just how big that rodeo is, that people come from all over the world to see it.
“It was very eye-opening to see how much people loved it. It’s telling of how big the bullfights can really be.”
That’s the kind of reception the bullfighters began seeing at all of their summer rodeos, and there’s no reason to expect anything different this year. Bullfighters Only will also have events virtually every week through early September.
“After Cody, we’re hitting a lot of other big rodeos, starting with Vernal (Utah) being the next major stop,” Ferguson said of the July 6-8 event. “It’s one of the coolest rodeos in Utah. The crowd likes to party, and it’s a rowdy place which makes for good bullfights.”
The BFO will then have a two-day stop in Colorado Springs, Colo. during the annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo before a mini stand-alone bullfight in Fortuna, Calif., on July 14.
“We will have three, three-man bouts in the first round, and the winners advance to the short round,” Ferguson said. “It’s an amazing setting, too, with massive Redwood trees in the background.”
After the event in northern California, Bullfighters Only returns to the rodeo schedule. You can find the full schedule and more atwww.BullfightersOnly.com.
Three of Bullfighters Only’s top men are on the sidelines as they recover from injury. Ross Hill of Muscle Shoals, Ala., and Nathan Harp of Tuttle, Okla., are out for four to six months with ACL injuries, and Cody Greer of Pryor, Okla., is out at least another couple of weeks after suffering a broken tailbone at the Cavender’s Cup.