After competing in Ada, Brittan is excited about his next step with BFO
Lance Brittan returned to freestyle bullfighting after years away from the game, and he liked what he experienced.
Brittan, the 1999 Wrangler Bullfight Tour world champion, was one of 15 men who were part of the Bullfighters Only Ada (Okla.) Invitational on April 22, and it marked the first time in about a decade he had been face-to-face with a bull that was bred for that kind of fight.
“It was a little nerve-wracking, because I was in the first section,” said Brittan, 42, of Windsor, Colo. “I had just one bull to watch before it was my turn. It didn’t give me that security of watching several bulls and give me an opportunity to gauge what I was going to do.
“But after that first pass with the bull, the butterflies were gone, and it was just second-nature. My instincts took over.”
His instincts are strong. Brittan was among the very best in the game when the Wrangler Bullfights ended after the 2000 season. He continued to compete when opportunities allowed, but most of his focus was on protecting cowboys in bull riding. His return to the freestyle action was special, not only to him but also to the other competitors in Ada.
“He reads bulls so good,” said Beau Schueth of O’Niell, Neb. “He can tell what they’re going to do, and he’s so smooth about it. It’s crazy how smooth he is with his fakes. He looked just as good as he did back in the day.”
Schueth is one of the top men in the BFO, and he has studied all the greats in the game. It’s part of what makes the Nebraska man so good, and it’s why he marveled at sharing the arena with Brittan.
“I’ve got a bunch of Wrangler Bullfight tapes from the NFR and have watched him on them,” Schueth said. “To be in the same arena as a legend is really cool. He was retired for years, and now that the freestyle bullfights are starting to come back and there’s a lot of money in it, it’s great to draw a guy like him and says a lot about the BFO.”
Bullfighters Only regenerated a buzz about the sport two years ago and is in the middle of its second season. Texan Weston Rutkowski became the first tour-based world champion in 17 years last season, and the tour is stronger than ever. Ada was the first of several stand-alone events that will happen in 2017.
All of it has been attractive for Brittan.
“I’m definitely going to Lewiston (Idaho) and Decatur (Texas), and I’ve also gotten the call to go the Colorado Springs,” he said, referring also to the BFO event in conjunction with the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo at the base of the Rocky Mountains. “I expect more calls. I’ve talked it over with my family, and there’s no sense in bowing out of any of them. I’m putting in the work and getting back in shape.”
He knows he’ll need it when it comes to the competition.
“I’m excited about the talent that is coming up,” Brittan said. “I think the more I compete with them, the more refined their bullfighting will become. They’re fans of mine, and I’m fans of theirs. Some that watched me fight that night tried to do some of the same things I do in their bullfights.
“That was a pretty cool feeling to be looked up to like that, but I look up to a lot of these guys by what they’ve accomplished.”
Bullfighters Only also has showcased true innovation in the sport. There are more spectacular tricks coming from the young talent, and Brittan realizes he needs to add something like that to his repertoire.
“I need another signature move,” said Brittan, who was the first bullfighter to do a flat-footed jump over a bull two decades ago. “I don’t want to copy what’s been done.
“I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve. I’m doing some work on some things. As much working out as I’m doing, I’m excited that I felt as good being back in the arena as I did at my age.”
Even at 42, he has exceptional athleticism, plus he brings decades of experience to the arena.
“Just having a bullfighting legend come back and be part of this group is amazing,” Schueth said. ‘He brings a lot to the table plus he’s an awesome bullfighter.”
But there are a good number of awesome bullfighters who are in the BFO. Brittan knows what he needs to do to succeed.
“We all want to win,” he said. “If we can win in a flashy sort of way and people can walk out of there after seeing something they’ve never seen before, then that’s what we’re there to do. That’s exciting for us and for the fans.”