Rutkowski marks big score to advance to Championship Saturday in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS – Weston Rutkowski is a man on a mission, and he took care of business Friday during the Wild Card Round of the Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship.
Rutkowski set the tone quickly in his match, taking advantage of an aggressive bull from Manuel Costa for 87 points to win his flight in the wild card. Now, the No. 1 man in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings advances to the final day of the BFO’s championship event at the Tropicana Las Vegas on Saturday.
“I just did what I could with the bull that I drew,” Rutkowski said. “You are only as good as the bull that you draw.”
While he owns the lead heading into the 2 p.m. showdown, there are four other men who can catch him for the world championship: Beau Schueth, Toby Inman, Ross Hill and newcomer Colt Oder, the latter of whom came up through the ranks this year after being part of the BFO Development Camps.
Now it’s a battle of the best in the business to see who takes home the title belt. It’s going to come down to the final two bulls of the 2018 season to who wins the $50,000 bonus for claiming the BFO world title, along with the $25,000 Vegas Bonus.
Rutkowski is the only world champion in Bullfighters’ Only history, having earned the belt in 2016 and 2017. But in a true battle of man vs. beast, anything can happen. In fact, it has in Las Vegas. Rutkowski suffered three facial fractures during the Roughy Cup on Dec. 6, then battled through two rounds of the Flexfit Preliminary Rounds.
Though he didn’t advance directly to Championship Saturday, he made sure to take care of things during the Wild Card Round, where just three men advance to be part of the nine-man field. He’s joined by fellow veteran Toby Inman and young gun Riley McKettrick. They will be in the mix with other newcomers Oder, Chance Moorman, Andres Gonzalez and Tucker Lane McWilliams. In addition to Rutkowski and Inman, two other BFO pioneers, Beau Schueth and Ross Hill, will be part of the most exciting day in freestyle history.
Six months ago, Florida’s McKettrick was graduating high school.
On Friday, he graduated from the Wild Card Round. It sets up for a fantastic finish to a rough-and-tumble 10 days of freestyle bullfighting in the City of Lights.
“It was a pretty meaningful fight for me so that I can move on,” said McKettrick, 18, who scored 85.5 points in the third round of the wild card to advance to Championship Saturday. “I’ve been ready to get back to it. I wasn’t happy with myself earlier in the week, so I wanted to redeem myself today. I’m glad I was able to do it.”
His bullfight on Friday has been the perfect way to build on a career he hopes to have in the BFO.
“Today’s fight boosted my confidence way back up,” said McKettrick, 18. “It gave me the ability to get my mind back up, too. I’m here for a reason, and I’m here to bring it.
“Being in the BFO is a big deal for me. I’ve a lot of people back home tell me I probably wasn’t going to make it this far. To prove them wrong is huge for me. To be up here with the top guys like Ross Hill, Beau Schueth, Toby Inman and Weston Rutkowski, is great. I feel like I have a long future in this sport.”
It’s set up like many legendary prize fights that Vegas has seen before, and fans who pack into the BFO tent at the Tropicana will be on hand for some glorious action.
“I expect a lot of people trying big moves that they’ve been saving this week,” McKettrick said. “You’re going to see some great bullfighting and some good wrecks.
“It’s been cool to watch the BFO all season long. It’s great to be part of that, and it’s going to be really cool to have a front-row seat.”