Defending the title belt

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Weston Rutkowski will defend his Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship belt starting Thursday at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Las Vegas. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)
Weston Rutkowski will defend his Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship belt starting Thursday at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Las Vegas. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Rutkowski hoping to capitalize in Vegas to win second 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.


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