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 also 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 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
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.