WATCH - BFO featured on HBO's VICE News

From VICE News:

"Freestyle bullfighting is kind of like the skateboard vert ramp event at the X-games, except the ramp has two massive horns, weighs 1,500 pounds, and desperately wants to kill you."

 

The rules are simple - you’ve got 60 seconds to pull off as many tricks as possible. The more dangerous and stylish, the more points. You also get points for how ferocious your opponent is. Whoever gets the most points walks home with the cash.

 

VICE News got ringside with a young star in the bullfighting world to find out why he won’t just settle down and get a nice, safe, desk job."


Schueth returns in Scottsdale

Nebraska talent back in competition after being sidelined by injury

 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Beau Schueth last competed on the Bullfighters Only tour five months ago in Austin, Texas, where he suffered broken bones in his foot near the ankle. Now he returns to the Wrangler Bullfights that will be part of Rodeo Scottsdale on Thursday, and he hopes to show just how hungry he’s been.

 

“The injury was pretty bad timing, because I was third in the world standings,” said Schueth of O’Neill, Neb. “I needed to do good in Austin to have a shot to chase down Toby (Inman) and Weston (Rutkowski) for the world title; the injury kind of messed up that deal.

 

“Now I’ve got to build from ground zero, and hopefully I can start it off right in Scottsdale.”

 

He will be part of a three-man bullfight at the Parada del Sol, joining Kris Furr and Noah Krepps. It’s a true battle of man vs. beast, with the bullfighters showcasing their athleticism in the face of Spanish fighting bulls from Manuel Costa.

 

“My foot feels pretty good,” Schueth said. “I’m just getting back into fighting shape. Now it’s about getting my mind back to freestyling; I haven’t done it since October.”

 

While he has been working in cowboy protection at some bull ridings, there’s something much different about facing a Spanish fighting bull. But the contestants know what to expect when Schueth is in the mix.

 

“I’m sure he’s been craving it, and I think he’s going to be swinging for the fences. It’s going to be a tough competition with him back.” said Kris Furr, who is coming off a second-place finish at the Wrangler Bullfights in San Antonio.

 

“I work a lot of rodeos in Arizona, and the people there are awesome,” he said. “They love rodeo. I think this is the first time they’ve had the BFO in Arizona, so it will be cool to be a part of it.”

 

CONTESTANTS

Kris Furr

Beau Schueth

Noah Krepps


Inman captures Alamo City title

SAN ANTONIO – As he prepared for battle, Toby Inman knew he would need a huge score to best the field. With the top 5 bullfighters in the world breathing down his neck, Inman did just that.

 

On Saturday afternoon, he delivered a 90-point bullfight to claim the inaugural San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Wrangler Bullfight championship and the $12,500 that accompanies the title.

 

“I’m floored,” said Inman, 34, who came out of retirement two seasons ago and finished as runner-up for the world title in 2017. “I just went to fight a bull and didn’t think about any of the prizes. It’s pretty incredible.”

 

Inman began the bout with an explosive running backflip.

 

“It was more of a backflop, because I landed on my stomach and not my feet,” he said with a laugh. “I’m not calling it a running backflip until I actually land it.”

 

Still, it was an impressive start to the fight. He established control with the red bull, and set up a solid cape – stretching a hand over the animal’s back as if draping a cape over the animal. It’s not something that’s in his forte, but he was happy to pull it off.

 

“I don’t think I’ve ever done a full cape pose, where you stand out there and make it prominent,” Inman said. “But I did today. I was able to do a few things I hadn’t really done before. I knew I needed to go big.”

 

Kris Furr, the No. 3 man in the 2017 standings, finished with an 89, good enough for second place. Third place went to the two-time reigning BFO world champion, Weston Rutkowski. The homestate favorite capped off his fight by sticking a perfect barrel roll and earned 88 points for the effort.

 

“It’s a really good feeling when I put myself out there and I set my bar high,” Inman said. “I was where I needed to be and was definitely trying to be 90.”

 

With 18,000 fans packed into San Antonio’s AT&T Center, it was an opportunity for Bullfighters Only to point a bright spotlight on freestyle bullfighting’s best.

 

“If you can picture a three-layer stadium where every seat in the house was full, it was an “Aha,” gladiator moment,” Inman said. “When the show was over, I created a little bit of a fire hazard because there were so many people wanting to take a photos. It was amazing, but we really do this for the fans.”

 

RESULTS

1. Toby Inman, 90 points, $12,500

2. Kris Furr, 89, $6,250

3. Weston Rutkowski, 88, $3,000

4. Justin Josey, 83, $1,500

5. Dayton Spiel, 82, $1,000

6. Tanner Zarnetski, 70, $750


Josey claims San Angelo title

SAN ANGELO, Texas – There was a different look on Justin Josey’s face Saturday night as he entered San Angelo Coliseum.

 

It was a combination of determination and confidence, and he had a distinct swagger as he prepared for the Bullfighters Only event in conjunction with the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo. His opponent was Black Soul, a quick and aggressive black Spanish fighting bull from Rockin’ B and Magnifica.

 

“He was my short-round bull in Austin last year and I was 89.5, then I watched him hook the snot out of somebody in Vegas. He’s all there; he tries every time and gives you a massive pocket. He’ll try just as hard as you will, if not harder.”

 

It showed in both combatants. Black Soul stayed on the aggressive through most of the first 40 seconds of the bout, and Josey countered every attack with quick steps and fiery twists, staying just enough out of harm’s way. The two athletes provided an event-winning 87-point bout.

 

“I’m not going to lie: I was nervous,” Josey said. “But, it helps to have the best bull in the pen. You could have won on any of the three bulls that were there. They gave you all they had for the fight, and that’s all you can ask for.”

 

In addition to taking the BFO-San Angelo crown, Josey also qualifies for the first ever BFO Wrangler Bullfight in conjunction with the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, which is set for Saturday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. There he will be in the mix with five other top BFO bullfighters: two-time reigning champion Weston Rutkowski, Toby Inman, Kris Furr, Dayton Spiel and Tanner Zarnetski.

 

“It means a lot to qualify for San Antonio,” Josey said. “I’m just trying to start the new year off right and get rolling. Now I have a chance to win $12,500 in San Antonio to go along with what I won in San Angelo. I still have to take care of business, but it’s a nice feeling right now.”

 

RESULTS

1. Justin Josey, 87 points against Rockin B and Magnifica’s Black Soul

2. Schell Apple, 84

3. Zach Call, 79.


BFO bound for San Antonio

Bullfighters Only set to launch new Wrangler Bullfights

 

SAN ANTIONIO, TX – The greatest indoor event in ProRodeo is about to be even better.

 

The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo is teaming with Bullfighters Only to produce a legendary freestyle bullfight during this year’s Xtreme Bulls event, set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24.

 

The high-stakes competition will take place at the AT&T Center, home of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, which takes place Feb. 8-25. It will feature the best in the BFO battling for their share of a $25,000 purse – half of which will go to the winner.

 

“It’s an honor to be associated with an organization like San Antonio,” said Aaron Ferguson, BFO’s founder and CEO. “Getting the spotlight on a stage of that magnitude is incredible for our sport and the athletes. Plus, they are competing for a lot of money.”

 

San Antonio will be the first event of the newly revitalized Wrangler Bullfights Tour, which was established in the early 1980s and disbanded in 2001. Bullfighters Only has formed a partnership with Wrangler Jeans and Shirts to showcase the world’s top bullfighters at rodeos across the country.

 

“Bullfighters Only has established a following showcasing the best athletes in freestyle bullfighting,” said Glen Alan Phillips, chief strategy officer at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. "We are excited to bring such a level of competition and production to our loyal fans."

 

San Antonio has been named the Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for the past 13 years. It’s status as one of the best rodeos has been cemented, and that’s why Bullfighters Only is excited to be part of the celebration.

 

“San Antonio is a rodeo I’ve always dreamed about competing in,” said Weston Rutkowski, the two-time and reigning BFO world champion from Haskell, Texas. “Now they’re bringing in the BFO Wrangler Bullfights, and giving me the opportunity to do what I do best in front of thousands of people.

 

Rutkowski will be joined by a stellar cast of the BFO’s top talent: Toby Inman, Kris Furr, Dayton Spiel and Tanner Zarnetski are all set to compete. The sixth contender will be decided on Feb. 17th during the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo. Justin Josey, Zach Call and Schell Apple will square off against counterparts from 2017 BFO Stock Contractor of the Year, Rockin' B & Magnifica Fighting Bulls.

 

“This is a really big deal for us. We started the BFO three years ago, and it’s exciting to see the types of rodeos that are getting on the BFO wagon.”  

 

CONTESTANTS

Weston Rutkowski

Toby Inman

Kris Furr

Dayton Spiel

Tanner Zarnetski

Justin Josey


BFO ready to rock Angelo

Bullfighters Only’s top men to battle elite bulls on stock show’s final night

 

SAN ANGELO, Texas – The crowd that packs into San Angelo Coliseum is loud and raucous for all 12 performances of the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo.

 

It’s electric, but nothing creates more sparks and power than Bullfighters Only, which takes place Saturday, Feb. 17, in conjunction with the stock show and rodeo’s final night.

 

“The crowd there is just outstanding,” said Zach Call, the reigning BFO-San Angelo champion from Mullen, Neb. “The whole atmosphere is incredible.”

 

It is, and it only gets better when the bullfights take place. After all, it’s the most extreme of all sports, with men facing danger at every turn. It’s a true man-vs.-beast showcase, with athletic, agile and aggressive Spanish fighting bulls, which have been bred to have those traits.

 

“The BFO is really good at bringing top-of-the-line stock contractors, keeping the standard of the BFO as high as it can be,” said Schell Apple, from Fay, Okla. “With these stock contractors, we’re getting the best of the best bulls.”

 

Rockin’ B & Magnifica, the 2017 BFO Stock Contractor of the Year, will provide the fighting bulls in San Angelo.

 

Hall’s bulls are supercharged, able to move fast and turn quickly. Bullfighters want the animals to stay engaged in the bouts, staying as close as possible while the men escape harm by fractions of an inch. Scores are based on how well the bull remains engaged in the fight and on how well the bullfighters maneuver around and, sometimes, over the animals.

 

“The key is for me to do the most I can with the bull that I draw,” Call said. “This year I want to stay consistent. Last year I started out strong, then midway through the year, I kind of petered out. In order to battle for the world title, I need to be consistent all year.”

 

That’s the key to being successful in any athletic endeavor. But there’s a little bit more incentive for the San Angelo bullfighters: The winner earns a qualification to the six-man BFO event that takes place Saturday, Feb. 24, at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.

 

“What makes San Angelo such a cool event is that you’re not only winning San Angelo, but you’re earning a spot in the first of the new Wrangler Bullfights,” Apple said. “It’s amazing that the BFO has brought back the Wrangler Bullfights.

 

“To be able to qualify for a spot at that event in San Antonio is absolutely awesome. It’s an opportunity I plan to take full advantage of.”

 

CONTESTANTS

Schell Apple

Zach Call

Justin Josey


Wrangler Bullfights return

Bringing together the past and future of freestyle bullfighting

 

SAN ANTONIO, TX - The history of freestyle bullfighting dates back nearly 40 years, when Jim Sutton, David Little and David Allen developed the Wrangler Bullfighting Tour. Wrangler’s support helped propel the sport to its glory days in the 1980s and ’90s.

 

Today, the premier freestyle bullfighting organization in the world, Bullfighters Only (BFO), is announcing a partnership with Wrangler Jeans and Shirts to launch the BFO Wrangler Bullfights.

 

“This is an exciting time for freestyle bullfighting, and Bullfighters Only, to have an iconic brand like Wrangler involved with this sport again,” said Aaron Ferguson, founder and CEO of Bullfighters Only. “The Wrangler Bullfight brand is still synonymous with our sport, and we’re honored to bring it back to life. While we don’t take the responsibility lightly, we’re going to have a lot of fun bringing our innovation to such a staple of western sports.”

 

The BFO Wrangler Bullfights will feature Bullfighters Only competitions that take place in conjunction with Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) events – the first of which will be held at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo on Feb. 24th.

 

"The Wrangler Bullfights go back over 30 years. It was the talent and heart of men like Wick Peth, Rob Smets, Miles Hare, Skipper Voss, Rex Dunn, and other great bullfighters in paint, who matched up with the likes of Crooked Nose and Purple People Eater, that brought fans to the edge of their seats for years,” said Jeff Chadwick, Director of Western Events for Wrangler.  “Now, the next generation of athletes in cleats are matched up against the fastest and most aggressive bulls in the game - that's what Bullfighters Only is about."  

 

BFO has also formed a partnership with Wrangler Network, the online network built exclusively for those living the western lifestyle.  Plans are currently being made to livestream the BFO Wrangler Bullfights, as well as BFO stand-alone events throughout 2018.

 

“BFO has always been about fan engagement,” Ferguson added.  “To have the incredible team at Wrangler Network stream our events to so many fans just made sense.”

 

“Wrangler teaming up with the BFO is a perfect fit,” added Weston Rutkowski, the reigning two-time world champion from Haskell, TX.

 

“Wrangler was such a big part of creating freestyle bullfighting and does so much for rodeo. For them to jump on board with the BFO, it will allow these two great companies to really showcase this sport.

 

“The Wrangler brand is the epitome of freestyle bullfighting, and BFO is the premier bullfighting group in the world.”

 

Lance Brittan understands that. He was the 1999 Wrangler Bullfighting World Champion who briefly came out of retirement last year to compete in the BFO.  He now serves as a BFO judge and was one of two judges selected for the BFO Las Vegas Championship this past December.

 

“The more partners we can get like Wrangler, the better it is for the BFO and for the up-and-coming bullfighters,” said Brittan of Windsor, CO.

 

“This is a really good thing for the future of freestyle bullfighting.”

 

Brittan was joined as a BFO judge in Las Vegas by Rowdy Barry of Kennewick, WA, who first became a professional bullfighter 32 years ago. He spent 15 years on the Wrangler Bullfight Tour.

 

“Bullfighting is very different now than it was then, and that’s for the better,” Barry said. “In comparison, we fought a lot more crossbred bulls, and the bulls they had for the bullfights might go twice every week. You couldn’t really throw any tricks at them they hadn’t seen.

 

“A lot of times, we were just trying to survive. That didn’t always leave a lot of room to be able to showcase our talents.”

 

Bullfighters Only was established in 2015 and has quickly brought freestyle bullfighting into the mainstream by showcasing the true athleticism of its fighters, along with a powerful element of danger in an action-sports environment.

 

“I think it’s awesome that Wrangler has teamed with the BFO,” Barry said. “There’s so much talent out there. There are a lot of great athletes that are bringing some new tricks to the industry, things that we never even thought of trying.”

 

The BFO’s partnership with Wrangler is the perfect transition from freestyle bullfighting’s glorious history with the ever-developing future of the sport.

 

“The sky is the limit with the BFO,” Rutkowski said. “We’re only scratching the surface of what we’re going to do in the future.”


Furr kicks off season with win

SALT LAKE CITY – Just like a boxer, a freestyle bullfighter needs to be light on his feet and throw accurate punches in order to come out victorious.

 

That’s exactly what Kris Furr did Saturday night to claim the first Bullfighters Only event of the season, held in conjunction with the Days of ’47 Lewis Feild Bulls & Broncs at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City.

 

“It’s a good start to the year,” said Furr, who matched moves with WAR Fighting Bulls’ Sinful Nights for 85 points to claim the championship. “That’s a sweet bull. You couldn’t ask for a better one, and I handled him.”

 

As Sinful Nights burst out of the chute, Furr made a quick round with the black Spanish fighting bull. Then as the animal showed his aggression, the North Carolinian threw a series of strong fakes to keep the bull off balance. Once he got enough separation, Furr was able to clear the bull on a head to tail jump.

 

“He let me do my thing,” he said. “But, he sure helped me get the win.”

 

Two-time reigning world champion Weston Rutkowski and Toby Inman, the 2017 reserve world champion, also had solid fights. Rutkowski finished second with an 82-point bout, but the difference came in the bull power. Inman finished third with a 77.

 

“I was the first one out, so I wanted to set the standard,” Furr said. “That was definitely had the bull to win it.”

 

But the bullfighter also had to hold up his end of the fight, and Furr did that. He also said it was great to be part of the Lewis Feild Bulls & Broncs, which featured all three rodeo roughstock events and barrel racing.

 

“The crowd was into it the whole time, especially during the bullfight,” he said. “I think it was really neat to them because we did it in the dark under the spotlight, so that made it even more electric.”

 

That’s what Bullfighters Only is all about, finding every way possible to showcase talent.

 

RESULTS

1. Kris Furr, 85 points on WAR Fighting Bulls’ Sinful Nights; 2. Weston Rutkowski, 82; 3. Toby Inman, 77


BFO kicks off ’18 in Salt Lake

Season opener will feature top three bullfighters from last year

 

SALT LAKE CITY – Not long ago, Weston Rutkowski was in Las Vegas, battling to retain his championship status with Bullfighters Only.

 

He came away with his second straight title by fending off the top bullfighters in the game, most notably Toby Inman and Kris Furr.

 

“This is the first stop of the year, and it’s going to be great in Salt Lake,” said Rutkowski, the BFO’s reigning world champion. “Toby finished second and Kris third last year, so it’s going to be really cool that the top three guys in the BFO kick off the year.”

 

Now the three men will battle again in the first Bullfighters Only event of the season, held in conjunction with the Days of ’47 Lewis Feild Bulls & Broncs, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City.

 

“We are going to see who has been putting in the work since Las Vegas.” Rutkowski said.

 

The event pays tribute to Lewis Feild, a ProRodeo legend who earned five world championships in his storied career – three all-around and two bareback riding. His son, Kaycee, is a four-time world champion bareback rider.

 

“The Feild name in rodeo is second to none,” said Rutkowski of Haskell, Texas. “For them to ask the BFO to come out and put on a show, it’s awesome. Being part of an event like this is going to help grow both organizations.”

 

Bullfighters Only is the premier group of freestyle bullfighters, who battle with some of the most agile and aggressive Spanish fighting bulls in the game. Scores are based on a 100-point scale, with half the score coming from how aggressive the animal is; the other half is from how well the bullfighter maneuvers around and, oftentimes, jumps over the bull.

 

CONTESTANTS

Weston Rutkowski

Toby Inman

Kris Furr


Rutkowski defends title

Reigning world champ wins $75,000 defending title at Las Vegas Championship

 

LAS VEGAS – The belt still fits Weston Rutkowski.

 

The Haskell, Texas, man proved why he is the greatest competitor in Bullfighters Only history by knocking down the competition Saturday during the final performance of the 2017 season at the BFO Las Vegas Championship at the Tropicana Casino and Resort. 

 

“I woke up (Friday) morning as ready to go as I have ever been,” Rutkowski said.

“It’s been a long 10 days, and I’ve had some bumps and bruises at 16 staples. Fortunately, I was able to take care of what I needed to come away with this championship.”

 

Rutkowski advanced to the three-man championship round after an 85.5-point fight in his section. Before the final three fights began, the Texan had already earned his second straight world title after Toby Inman failed to advance. But there was still business to tend to. 

 

“It was a relief, sorts, because I knew I came to Vegas and won some money,” said Rutkowski, who pocketed the BFO’s first $50,000 bonus paid to the world champion. “But I came here to win the event and solidify my status as a world champ.” 

 

He was joined in the championship round by Kris Furr of Hamptonville, N.C., and Zach Call of Mullen, Neb. Call was unable to finish his fight with Rockin’ B and Magnifica’s Unicorn, and Furr matched moves with Manuel Costa’s Hulkamaniac for 87 points to put the pressure on Rutkowski. 

 

But the champ proved worthy. Matched with WAR Fighting Bulls’ Soldier of War, the two gladiators maneuvered around the ring. Rutkowski took every shot the agile bull threw, sliding past the charging animal and showcasing his own athleticism in the process. The result was 90.5 points and another $25,000 for winning BFO-Vegas. 

 

“The money is obviously a big amount, but at the end of the day, I’m here to fight bulls,” he said. “In order to win money like that, I had to stand in there and fight one for the full 60 (seconds) and do everything I could to take home this championship.” 

 

It hasn’t been all glitz and glam for Rutkowski. After winning the first two Roughy Cup titles in 2015-16, he failed to advance to the championship round on Wednesday, Dec. 6. He also reinjured his hamstring and took a shot to the back of the head that left a 6-inch gash, which required 16 staples. 

 

“It is all or nothing in this sport,” Rutkowski said. “If you’re not willing to put it all in the arena, then you don’t deserve to be here.” 

 

It takes great preparation to be one of the best in the game, and that’s what the BFO has. Furr put on a solid fight for a big score. Rutkowski’s was just that much better. 

 

“Kris Furr is a great athlete and a great bullfighter,” he said. “That’s what I love about the BFO; you’re going to go against the best guys in the world every time you nod your head.” 

 

The BFO is also a showcase for the best bulls in the game. In a sport filled with danger, the animals are the primary ingredient with personalities more heat-seeking missiles. They are aggressive and agile, and they put the fight in bullfighting, especially this week. 

 

“I didn’t know Soldier of War at all, but that plays right into my game plan,” Rutkowski said. “I don’t like to know the bull. I like to just read and react and fight my fight.” 

 

He’s done that well. Now he’s become the first man in the sport’s history to win more than $100,000 in a single season. 

 

“There are a lot of guys that have fought bulls for a while and did it without making much money,” he said. “The sport of freestyle bullfighting seems like it has grown overnight, but it hasn’t. It has finally come full circle, and it’s finally paying off to fight Spanish fighting bulls for a living thanks to the BFO.” 

 

Results

Round 1: 1. Kris Furr, 84.5; 2. Toby Inman, 82; 3. Tanner Zarnetski, 80. 

Round 2: 1. Weston Rutkowski, 85.5; 2. Noah Krepps, 82.5; 3. Cody Emerson, 76.

Round 3: 1. Zach Call, 84; 2. Justin Josey, 83.5; 3. Jimmy Essary, 80.

Championship round: 1. Weston Rutkowski, 90.5 points on WAR Fighting Bulls’ Man of War; 2. Kris Furr, 87; 3. Zach Call, 0.

World champion: Weston Rutkowski


Rutkowski finds redemption

Defending champ, Inman advance to final day of BFO Las Vegas Championship

 

LAS VEGAS – Fifteen stitches and a bum hamstring had nothing on Weston Rutkowski.

 

The reigning Bullfighters Only world champion suffered those injuries a week ago, but what hurt him more was the doubt that was cast on his ability and his work ethic. He answered those doubts Thursday afternoon with a 90.5-point fight during the second Preliminary Round of the BFO Las Vegas Championship at the Tropicana Casino and Resort.

 

“This was about redemption,” said Rutkowski, the No. 1 man in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings and the frontrunner to repeat as the world champ.

 

“There were a lot of people wondering if I could, if I could come in and take over.

 

“The Roughy Cup (last week) didn’t go as good as I wanted to, and I got 15 staples and reaggravated a hamstring injury. So, this was getting back to the basics to prove to everybody that I know how to fight bulls. This is a very dangerous sport, but in order to be a world champion, you have to battle through that and make yourself fight your fight.”

 

His bout was so strong that it didn’t look like the injuries even hampered him. He admitted, though, that he had to block it out to a point.

 

“Winning my round today means I get a day off, another day of rehab over here at the Fit N Wise sports medicine,” he said. “It’ll be nice to have an extra day off to be able to get ready to fight at the finals Saturday.”

 

Trainers have outfitted Rutkowski with a specialized wrap to help protect the hamstring as much as possible. He tested it out Wednesday night to make sure everything was good to go for his round.

 

“I went down to the arena, and I pretended to fight bulls for 45 minutes to an hour,” he said. “I proved to myself that the wrap would hold up.”

 

That was all he needed to help his confidence and put on the fight necessary to advance to Championship Saturday.

 

“One slip or one fall, and people think you’ve lost your step. If you can’t get up from some bumps and bruises, then this isn’t the sport for you.

 

“I’m not going to bow down. The world title goes through me, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let go of it without putting up a fight.”

 

While he is the No. 1 man in the game, there is one man that can catch Rutkowski: Toby Inman of Davis Junction, Ill., who joins Rutkowski and Kris Furr of Hamptonville, N.C., in advancing to Saturday’s finale. Furr won his three-man bout with an 80, while Inman scored 85 to advance.

 

“I thought my fight went great,” said Inman, who returned to the sport in 2016 after retiring five years before. “That was maybe the happiest I’ve ever felt before a fight. Today I wasn’t overthinking stuff.

 

“I had a fun little red bull, and I knew I just needed to play my cards right to advance. Thankfully I didn’t have Weston in my round. I just did a simple fight and made it work.” 

 

Results

Weston Rutkowski, 90.5; Toby Inman, 85; and Kris Furr, 80.


Building to a brilliant finish

Bullfighters Only kicks off Las Vegas Championship with style

 

LAS VEGAS – The chase is one for the $25,000 first-place prize with the Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship. 

 

The Preliminary Round action continues at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Tropicana Casino and Resort, and features the very best that the BFO has to offer. From reigning world champion Weston Rutkowski and veterans like Toby Inman to newcomers like Seth Wilson, it is a true showcase of freestyle bullfighting. 

The winner of each round will advance to Saturday’s championship, with those who don’t moving on to Friday’s Wild Card for one final chance to make it to the Championship. 

 

“I have a chance to make a pretty fat statement,” said Wilson, a 17-year-old phenom from Jackson, Wyo. “I came here looking for the win, and this could be what it takes.”

 

Wilson will among the nine bullfighters competing Thursday, and he’s in the same 3-man section with Rutkowski, the BFO’s first world champion and the season leader. Wilson advanced out of last week’s Qualifier Rounds with the highest score so far, an 87.5-point fight Sunday afternoon. 

 

“I knew that it was possible that I could draw into this,” Wilson said of facing off against the biggest name in the sport. “I’m super excited. This is really a dream come true.” 

 

Thursday’s bouts will feature matchups like qualifier Dustin Konig of Ault, Colo., in the same section with Kris Furr and Schell Apple, both of whom are among the top 9 men in the world.

 

Qualifiers Conner Rowley of Westcliffe, Colo., and Ely Sharkey of Ainsworth, Neb., are matched with Inman, the No. 2 man in the standings who still has a good shot to catch Rutkowski for the world title. 

 

With the mix of some of the greatest fighting bulls in the sport, BFO is poised for the most exciting four days of the season.


Zach gets the Call to BFO finale

Nebraska bullfighter punches his ticket to short round of Las Vegas Championship

 

LAS VEGAS – A year ago, Zach Call had to battle through the Wild Card Round in order to advance to the Las Vegas Championship’s final round.

 

He managed to avoid it this year, posting a solid 79-point fight to win his section Wednesday afternoon during the first of two Preliminary Rounds of the Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship at the Tropicana Casino and Resort.

 

“I had a solid little bull from Brett Hall’s string, and he gave me an honest shot to win it,” said Call, who will be joined on Championship Saturday by the other two winners from Wednesday, Jimmy Essary and Cody Emerson.

 

Now the three bullfighters will await Thursday’s second Preliminary Round and Friday’s Wild Card to see who else will make it to the final day of the 2017 season.

 

“I think having a little bit of a break from it is going to be the key to being healthy for the short round,” said Call of Mullen, Neb. “I’m a little sore, but not bad.”

 

Call had the best bullfight in his three-man bout, but he still was a bit overwhelmed by his bull, which hooked him and pushed him into the panels. Call rebounded and was able to finish his bout well.

 

“I think there were a couple of mistakes I had that hurt my score,” he said. “I thought when I threw that fake that I should have had him make a round with me. Getting hooked confirmed that.”

 

He hopes to clean up those mistakes by the time the final round arrives at 2 p.m. Saturday.

 

“It’s just about having a confident mind when you walk into the arena,” Call said. “That’s so important, especially when you’re talking about these bulls we have here.”

 

When he wasn’t in the arena, Call watched many of the top young bullfighters in the game as they battled through last week’s qualifiers. The entire five days of BFO action has been world class.

 

“We’ve sold out the crowd almost every day, and the location at the Tropicana and being on the strip is awesome,” he said. “There have been some handy kids, and you can see the ones that are ready to be at this level. The bulls we’re running at this event are a little stronger than what we’re used to, but this is the next level.

 

“The guys hat get up after taking a hooking will eventually figure it out, because they want to be out there.”

 

Advancing to Las Vegas Championship Finals

Zach Call, 79; Jimmy Essary, 85; and Cody Emerson, 81.5


BFO’s Youth Movement

17-year-old Wilson advances to Las Vegas Championship

 

LAS VEGAS – Seth Wilson is a high school student in Jackson Hole, Wyo., but he’s getting quite the education this week in the City of Lights.

 

On Sunday afternoon during the third day of qualifying for the Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship, Wilson posted an 87.5-point bout, the highest-marked fight through the first four days of competition. He now advances to face the world’s top 9 bullfighters in the preliminary rounds, set for at 2 p.m. Wednesday & Thursday at the Tropicana Casino and Resort.

 

“That was a really good bull,” said Wilson, 17, of Jackson Hole, Wyo. “He came out pretty hot. I just tried to hit him with the hardest fakes I could to make sure he’d take them. There were some things I would have liked to have done differently, but at the end of the day, I put forth the effort for what I came here to do.”

 

Because of his age, he had to have parental permission and a signed waiver in order to compete. That was no problem for Wilson, whose family runs a rodeo company in Wyoming. He used to ride bulls before transitioning to the bullfighting cleats.

 

“I fight for my family every week, so my mom knows I’ve got a passion for it,” he said. “She knows I have a chance to be successful at this.”

 

He proved it Sunday afternoon inside the Bullfighters Only tent at the Tropicana; the sellout crowd was on their feet for the duration of Wilson’s fight. In the toughest three-man section of the day, he outlasted Kris Buffalo of Maskwacis, Alberta, by just half a point.

 

“There are a lot of outstanding guys in the BFO, and we all watch them and want to be there,” Wilson said. “To get this opportunity these guys have been gracious to give me is a dream come true and it brings out all sorts of emotions.”

 

He will be joined by Jimmy Essary of Somersville, Tenn., who scored 76 points to win his section, and Ely Sharkey of Ainsworth, Neb., who was 79 to win his three-man group. They will compete in the two preliminary rounds, which take place Wednesday and Thursday.

 

Each day will feature three 3-man fights, with the winners advancing to Saturday’s championship. The other two bullfighters will move on to the Wild Card Round, set for Friday.

 

For Wilson, he now has the opportunity to play the game he loves with the bullfighters he’s been admiring for years. He also has a chance to win that $25,000 first-place prize.

 

“That’s pretty breathtaking,” he said of the top prize. “It would be an honor to be able to come up with that. It also gives you drive. It’s not going to come easy. The best guys in the world are going to be there. I’m going to find out how bad I really want it.”

 

Advancing to Las Vegas Championship

Jimmy Essary, 76; Seth Wilson, 87.5; and Ely Sharkey, 79


Whitebear representing well 

Canadian shines in second day of BFO Las Vegas Qualifier Round

 

LAS VEGAS – The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations in North America, with over 200,000 members living in Canada. Tommy Whitebear of Maskwacis, Alberta is one of them.

 

On Saturday afternoon, during the second day of qualifying for the Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship, Whitebear advanced to next week’s Preliminary Round which will pay out over $25,000 to the champion.

 

He is the only Canadian who has advanced so far, with Quebec’s JF Roch and Saskatchewan’s Jordynn Swanson sent packing in Round 1. Fellow Cree bullfighter, Kris Buffalo takes center stage tomorrow during the third and final round of qualifying at Tropicana Las Vegas.

 

“I came across a video of Bullfighters Only, and decided that this is what I wanted to do.” says Whitebear when describing his start in freestyle bullfighting.

 

It’s a good thing. He has now placed his hat in the ring among the best in the business.

 

“I can’t believe it right now. It wasn’t even a year ago when I just wanted to be in Bullfighters Only, and now I get to go against the guys I have watched and studied.”

 

He is one of three bullfighters who advanced from Saturday’s qualifier; he is joined by Noah Krepps of Jasper, Ark., and Dustin Konig of Ault, Colo.

 

“I couldn’t have asked for a better bull,” said Krepps, who began his bout with a high-diving Superman. “The landing kind of knocked the air out of me. The bull worked out really well. I definitely think I could have pushed myself harder and pushed him harder though.”

 

“You can’t get by making mistakes like that come next week,” Krepps said. “I love the opportunity I have. I think I’ve got as good a chance as the next man. You’ve got a great group of guys, so it’s a good time to shine.”

 

That’s what makes the qualifiers special. The final nine-man qualifier round is set to begin at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Tropicana Casino and Resort. Three more bullfighters will advance to next week’s BFO Las Vegas Championship, which begins Wednesday.

 

“I really didn’t think about the fight,” said Whitebear, who took plenty of punishment during his 60-second bout. “I was just going with what the bull was doing the best I could. I knew this was my only shot to make the BFO.”

 

Advancing to Las Vegas Championship

Dustin Konig; 82, Noah Krepps 81.5;  and Tommy Whitebear; 77


Pender flips for a spot in BFO-Vegas

 

LAS VEGAS – Weston Pender had never been matched against a full-size Spanish fighting bull in front of a crowd until Friday afternoon. 

 

He didn’t let it intimidate him. In fact, he became the first man in freestyle bullfighting history to

do a front flip over his animal during his 82-point bout in the first of three days of qualifying for the

Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship.

 

“I knew I had a pretty chargey bull, and I’ve been wanting to do a front flip for a long time,” said

Pender, 21, of Brookhaven, Miss. “I wanted to be first guy in history to do it. Once I did it to start the

fight, that was a huge motivator for me.”

 

It worked quite well and brought a capacity crowd at the Tropicana Casino and Resort to its feet.

Pender advanced to next week’s championship and will be joined by Miles Jones and Conner Rowley.

The final two days of qualifiers begin at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

 

“I could’ve been a little more fundamentally sound, but I feel like I kept my bull engaged,”

Pender said. “There were just some things I know I need to keep working on.”

 

That’s bound to happen with a young bullfighter. Pender’s first steps in the sport came earlier

this year when he took part in the BFO Developmental Camp in Sikeston, Mo. From there, he advanced

to the BFO Super Camp in Decatur, Texas. His invitation to compete in Las Vegas is just another move

toward his hope to be one of the best in the business.

 

“I feel like I made a decent fight, especially since that was my first full-size fighting bull to call for

ever,” said Pender, who attended East Mississippi Community College on a rodeo scholarship and

began cowboy protection there while helping bull riders in the practice pen. “There has been a learning

curve, for sure, but between God and Aaron Ferguson, I couldn’t thank them enough for this

opportunity.”

 

Ferguson is the founder and CEO of Bullfighters Only, which, in just three years, has become

the preeminent freestyle bullfighting organization in the world.

 

“I lived a dream today that not a lot of people get to be part of, and it means a great deal to me,”

Pender said. “The Developmental Camp was, by far, the best experience I’ve ever had. They all

believed in me, and I kept hanging with it.

 

“I work at a feed yard, so I get to step off my horse and fight mean little calves all the time.

When you call for that Spanish-bred fighting bull, it’s a completely different ballgame. He’s 90 mph, and

he’s hunting you.”

 

The hunt goes both ways, and Pender has at least one more shot to continue it in Las Vegas.

 

Advancing to Las Vegas Championship

Weston Pender, Miles Jones and Conner Rowley


Zarnetski claims Roughy Cup

LAS VEGAS – There is a new king of the Bullfighters Only Roughy Cup.

 

After Weston Rutkowski’s reign in the opening two years of the championship, Tanner Zarnetski of Texarkana, Texas, earned the prestigious trophy Thursday afternoon at the Tropicana Casino and Resort.

 

“It means a lot to come out on a platform such as this with the best bullfighters in the world to come out on top,” Zarnetski, who won his opening-round bout with an 85-point fight to kick-start the 12 bullfights, then followed with an 81-point bout with WAR Fighting Bulls’ Chute Boss to claim the title.

 

“After you step out there in a pen like this with a bull like that, then you pretty much lose all your thoughts and let your body take over.

 

“It’s mostly reaction. After years of being in circumstances like that, you learn to use your muscle reaction and reading bulls.”

 

It paid off well. He earned $7,500 for the victory and pushed his season earnings to $15,166. More importantly, he sets himself up well for next week’s BFO Las Vegas Championship, which pays $25,000 to the winner.

 

“I think this sets me up really good for next week,” he said. “My personal confidence is boosted, so going into the preliminary rounds, I’ve got a good mindset.

 

“We’re all looking forward to that payout.”

 

First it was getting through 12 of the rankest fighting bulls in the BFO. Several men were knocked to the ground, left bruised and bloodied. But that’s the nature of freestyle bullfighting. The men have to get as close to danger as possible while staying out of harm’s way, but that was harder Thursday than many realized.

 

“It was quite a bit of hard work today,” Zarnetski said. “They tried to bring in the best bulls for us to go up against, and it really showed. I think it was a good show for everyone to see.

 

Fortunately, I made it to the short round with a great bull, and I was a little more light on my feet. That made a lot of difference.”

 

Results

1. Tanner Zarnetski, 81 points on WAR Fighting Bulls’ Chute Boss; 2. Dayton Spiel, 76; 3. Cody Emerson, 75.


Inman in the hunt for title

Illinois man hoping to climb new heights chasing BFO world championship

 

LAS VEGAS – Toby Inman isn’t a man of danger, but it seems to lurk around every corner he turns.

It’s how he makes a living, whether as a bullfighter or with Toby’s Tree Service, a business he owns in his hometown of Davis Junction, Ill. He faces danger from towering heights trimming trees, and he looks at it square in the eyes as he maneuvers within inches of the raging horns of powerfully agile beasts.

 

He’s pretty good at both. He is the No. 2 man in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings heading into the Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship, set for 2 p.m. Dec. 7-10 and 13-16 at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Las Vegas.

 

“I’m the old guy, and the old guy still wants to win,” said Inman, 34, who came out of retirement a little more than a year ago to be part of the BFO. “I don’t have anything to prove, but to come back and jump in without training wheels, I’m pretty proud of myself.”

 

He should be. Over the course of the 2017 season, Inman earned several key victories and placed well at other stops en route to earning more than $25,000. He can more than double his season earnings in Sin City, with the Las Vegas Championship winner pocketing $25,000. With that, he can overtake the season leader, Weston Rutkowski, and has a chance to pocket the $50,000 bonus paid out to the BFO world champion.

 

“The money doesn’t necessarily motivate me; fighting bulls motivates me,” he said. “Vegas and the finals motivates me. I’m just excited to be a participant and be a top contender at my age. I definitely don’t show it a lot, but I still grin ear to ear, and it’s because of that. I’m thankful for the opportunity.”

 

Inman has earned that chance. A decade ago, he was one of the top freestyle bullfighters in the game. He stepped away from it for about six years to focus on his business in Illinois, but Bullfighters Only not only got him back to work in the arena, it sparked a focus.

 

He has long been recognized as one of the smoothest men in freestyle bullfighting. He makes moves around the athletic bulls with ease, and his tall frame and equally athletic talent allow him to score big points.

 

He is one of nine top bullfighters who will compete in the third annual Roughy Cup to kickstart the Las Vegas festivities Thursday. All nine advance to the Las Vegas Championship, which begins Dec. 10, while 27 other men will try to earn their place through three days of qualifiers.

 

“I’m excited because fans continue to help us reach our initial goal, which is making freestyle bullfighting a mainstream event,” Inman said. “We’re able to do this because of the fans.”

 

Of course, having an opportunity at the big cash in Vegas doesn’t hurt either.

 

“I’ve got skid loaders and other things on my Christmas list that I’ve got to buy for myself,” he said with a laugh.

 

“For the most part, though, I still like to do it and have fun with it.

 

“It’s exciting that my friends and family – and even new fans – get to see my progression. They can see that I still enjoy it and can still do it well.”

 

He has plenty of reasons to be happy with where he is, whether it’s atop a tree or jumping a fighting bull.

 

BFO’s Seeded Bullfighters

Weston Rutkowski

Toby Inman

Kris Furr

Dayton Spiel

Schell Apple

Justin Josey

Zach Call

Tanner Zarnetski

Cody Emerson

 

Las Vegas Championship Schedule

All performances begin at 2 p.m.

Thursday, 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.

Friday, Dec. 8-Sunday, Dec. 10: Qualifier Rounds – An open door for the sport’s rising talent, providing a chance to compete at the elite level. Nine of the 27 bullfighters competing will advance to the Preliminary Rounds.

Wednesday, Dec. 13-Thursday Dec. 14: Preliminary Rounds – Winners from each performance advance to Championship Saturday.

Friday, Dec. 15: Wild Card Round – Bullfighters will get one final chance to advance to Championship Saturday.

Saturday, Dec. 16: The 2017 BFO world champion will be crowned at the completion of a 9-man semifinals, followed by the 3-man Hooey Championship Round.


North takes shots for BFO

Respected barrelman a saving grace in Las Vegas Championship bouts

 

LAS VEGAS – The cliché of rolling with the punches has never been more applicable than for Andy North.

 

He’s the barrelman who will be in the arena during the Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship, set for Dec. 7-10 and 13-16 at the Tropicana Casino and Resort. He is a safety valve for the freestyle bullfighters in the competition, which begins at 2 p.m. daily. His protection is his 120-pound, aluminum-shell barrel that is padded on the inside and out.

 

At full speed, a fighting bull can hit the barrel at nearly 20 mph and with enough force to send it end-over-end. It can be brutal for the man inside, despite the padding.

 

His body already contorted to absorb the impact as much as possible, those shots take their toll. But that’s OK for North.

 

“I love working the barrel,” said North of Piedmont, Okla. “I think it’s something I was born to do. I’m trying to put a little subtle attention to what we do and what we’re there for.”

 

North has a few tricks to his trade, which is why he’s the most sought-after barrelman in the industry. His seven years as a bullfighter have helped him with the instincts of being in the right place at the right time. By gripping the hand-holds on the inside and shuffling his feet through a one-foot-square opening at the bottom, North just glides into position.

 

“Having fought freestyle bulls before, I have a little more insight where a guy is likely to get into trouble,” he said.

 

“What makes a difference is that I have a knack for knowing when the wreck is going to happen. I don’t want to distract the bull and pull him away from the bullfight. Fortunately, I’ve always had the ability to get sneaky with that thing.”

 

He’s made it into an art form.

 

“Andy North is the best barrelman in the business, hands down,” said Weston Rutkowski, the reigning BFO world champion is No. 1 heading into the eight days of competition in the City of Lights. “In times that pure chaos has come out, he’s been the guy to save me. He’s always been there when I needed him. He’s just so savvy in the freestyle bullfights that he knows where to be and when to be there.”

 

One reason he’s always there is that he’s protecting his dear friends. He’s been in their position before, and he wants to be there for them again. Being part of Bullfighters Only is just an added benefit. 

 

“The reason I keep doing this is the brotherhood I have with those guys,” North said. “Being in the arena with the very best is a good thing. It’s neat to be part of, to me that’s such a big thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s the No. 1 guy out there or a rookie, I value them and what they bring to the table.

“If I have to take a shot in that barrel to save someone, I’m going to do it.”

 

The bullfighters know that. They hope to never need North, but they trust him if the situation arises.

 

“What makes Andy special is that he’s always right there,” said Kris Furr, the No. 5 man in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings. “If you go down in the arena, it may take four seconds for the other bullfighters to get to you to help you, but Andy is in position in a second.”

 

That savviness comes from 13 years on the job. Now he has the best seat in the house to watch the sport’s top men battle for the Bullfighters Only world title.


Defending the title belt

Rutkowski hoping to capitalize in Vegas to win second BFO world championship

 

LAS VEGAS – Every championship fighter wants to defend his belt in Las Vegas.

 

Weston Rutkowski is no different. He clinched the first Bullfighters Only world championship last December.

 

Now he will battle to retain that title belt during the BFO Las Vegas Championship, set for Dec. 7-10 and 13-16 at the Tropicana Hotel and Resort.

 

“I have a lot to prove,” said Rutkowski, 28, of Haskell, Texas. “Las Vegas is where you go to prove that you know what you’re doing.”

 

He has earned more than $42,000 through the rigors of the 2017 season and owns a lead of just less than $17,000 over the No. 2 man, Toby Inman of Davis Junction, Ill. Rutkowski will kick things off with the Roughy Cup, which begins at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7; he is the two-time reigning champion of the BFO’s inaugural event.

 

“The Roughy Cup is a big event,” he said. “If I want to win another world title, I need to win it for the third time in a row. If I can win the Roughy Cup, it’ll be tougher for those guys to catch me.”

 

He’s talking about the other top nine bullfighters who will be in the mix that opening performance. They have all earned the right to compete for the biggest payday in the game. Not only will they kick-start the Tropicana festivities, but they will also earn a bye into the Las Vegas Championship.

 

That’s huge, because $50,000 will be paid out over the eight days of bullfighting. In the BFO, dollars not only help pay bills, but they equal championship points. The man with the most money earned through the season will earn the crown. And this year, for the first time, that comes with a little more incentive: A $50,000 bonus paid to the world champ.

 

“I just want to go in there and take care of business. I’ve been in these situations where everybody is gunning for you, but I can only do what I do.” Rutkowski said. “It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I spent $750 to fly out to North Carolina to win $600 at a bullfight, so this shows how much the BFO has changed things for bullfighting.”

 

“I’ve got to trust in what I’m good at. I’ll just let the points fall where they fall and, if I do that, I should come back with back-to-back world titles.”

 

He’s confident, but he’s proven why. He’s picked up some key titles through the season and brings a boat load of momentum into the Nevada desert.

 

“It’s been a year of ups and downs,” he said. “In the beginning, I pulled my groin, and I had to go to two more stand alone events on a peg leg. I was fortunate enough to pull out a little money at one of those.

 

“Over the summer, I didn’t win a lot, because I was fighting my head. I was learning how to get through some tough times and still be able to put myself in a place to win another world title. I hope that shows how hard I work at this.”

 

The hard work is paying off as freestyle bullfighting has taken to the main stage of extreme sports, especially Western sports. Rutkowski is making a name for himself with his style, experience and athleticism. It’s a good time to be at the top of the business.

 

“Bullfighters Only has changed everything for guys like me and, especially, for those guys that are coming up in bullfighting,” Rutkowski said. “It has created a platform for guys that are up and coming to show off what they can do. To pay out $100,000 in Las Vegas is unreal. The BFO has brought freestyle bullfighting to the mainstream, and that was our goal.”

 

It’s happening, and Weston Rutkowski and all the others in the BFO are reaping the rewards.

 

BFO’s Seeded Bullfighters

Weston Rutkowski

Toby Inman

Kris Furr

Dayton Spiel

Schell Apple

Justin Josey

Zach Call

Tanner Zarnetski

Cody Emerson

 

Las Vegas Championship Schedule

All performances begin at 2 p.m.

Thursday, 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.

Friday, Dec. 8-Sunday, Dec. 10: Qualifier Rounds – An open door for the sport’s rising talent, providing a chance to compete at the elite level. Nine of the 27 bullfighters competing will advance to the Preliminary Rounds.

Wednesday, Dec. 13-Thursday Dec. 14: Preliminary Rounds – Winners from each performance advance to Championship Saturday.

Friday, Dec. 15: Wild Card Round – Bullfighters will get one final chance to advance to Championship Saturday.

Saturday, Dec. 16: The 2017 BFO world champion will be crowned at the completion of a 9-man semifinals, followed by the 3-man Hooey Championship Round.


Stars aligning in Vegas

BFO’s top bullfighters to kick off Las Vegas Championship with Roughy Cup

 

LAS VEGAS – The Nevada desert is where dreamers come to fulfill their biggest fantasies, whether it’s cashing in at the tables or walking away with a world championship.

 

“There’s a lot of money up for grabs in Vegas, and that atmosphere is what gets everybody excited,” said Weston Rutkowski, the reigning Bullfighters Only World Champion. He is hoping to regain that title belt at the BFO Las Vegas Championship, set for Dec. 7-10 and 13-16, at the Tropicana Hotel and Resort.

 

“It’s the bright lights,” he said. “That’s where you go to prove to people that you know what you’re doing. It’s also a chance for several other bullfighters to catch me in the standings. I can’t sit back and let them come at me. I’ve got to go in there and earn that world title.”

 

The Las Vegas Championship will pay $25,000 to its winner, and that will go a long way toward crowning this year’s world champion. Rutkowski owns less than a $17,000 lead over the No. 2 man, Toby Inman. But this year’s world title comes with a huge incentive: The champ will be awarded a $50,000 bonus.

 

“Vegas is always a big deal for any event, whether it’s the BFO, the PBR World Finals or the National Finals Rodeo,” said Inman, who returned to bullfighting in 2016 after a six-year retirement and is now chasing his first world title. “If you have a finals in Vegas, it is going to be a big deal. I’m a contender to win it and still a contender for the world title, so that makes it exciting for me.”

 

Rutkowski has found his way to the top of the mountain again this season by overcoming challenges that blindsided him throughout the season. From injuries to a slump, he waded through the muck and earned $42,000. He’d like his 2017 salary to reach six figures, but he knows he’s going to have to find success in Sin City to make it happen.

 

“If $50,000 doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will,” Rutkowski said. “It’s crazy to think that the BFO is getting so big. It shows that the hard work is paying off, not only in my career but in the BFO. It’s an awesome feeling to know I’ve got a chance at $50,000.”

 

The BFO Las Vegas Championship is not only a display of classy veterans like Rutkowski and Inman. It will be a true athletic showcase that features seven other top stars who have earned the right to be among the top nine men.

 

Whether it’s newcomer Dayton Spiel, who worked his way onto the tour through the BFO’s Development Camps, or any other rising stars, there are plenty of lights to shine at the Tropicana.

 

“This is my first time to compete in Las Vegas,” said Kris Furr, who sits fifth in the standings and is within striking distance of his first world title. “I’m excited for the chance to win a lot of money and to compete with the caliber of bullfighters that Bullfighters Only has.

 

“Last year at this time, I watched the all of the videos but wasn’t a part of it. I like the position I’m in now. The BFO is growing, and there are more and more big bullfights. It seems like it’s growing that way, and that’ great for the sport of bullfighting.”  

 

Over the last three years, Bullfighters Only has pushed freestyle bullfighting into the mainstream of extreme sports. By having all eight days of events at the same location, the BFO is opening the door for more fans to be part of the festivities so they can see how the best bullfighters in the world play the game.

 

BFO’s Seeded Bullfighters (Top 9)

Weston Rutkowski

Toby Inman

Kris Furr

Dayton Spiel

Schell Apple

Justin Josey

Zach Call

Tanner Zarnetski

Cody Emerson

 

Las Vegas Championship Schedule

All performances begin at 2 p.m.

Thursday, 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.

Friday, Dec. 8-Sunday, Dec. 10: Qualifier Rounds – An open door for the sport’s rising talent, providing a chance to compete at the elite level. Nine of the 27 bullfighters competing will advance to the Preliminary Rounds.

Wednesday, Dec. 13-Thursday Dec. 14: Preliminary Rounds – Winners from each performance advance to Championship Saturday.

Friday, Dec. 15: Wild Card Round – Bullfighters will get one final chance to advance to Championship Saturday.

Saturday, Dec. 16: The 2017 BFO world champion will be crowned at the completion of a 9-man semifinals, followed by the 3-man Hooey Championship Round.