Reigning world champ wins $75,000 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, of 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 like 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.”
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