After a five-year absence, bulls and bullfighters will once again square-off at the Pontotoc County Agri-Plex.

The Bullfighters Only Ada Invitational will begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22. Aaron Ferguson, founder and CEO of Bullfighters Only, is happy to see bullfighting back in Ada.

“This is ground zero,” Ferguson said. “The epicenter of the sport is truly Ada, Oklahoma. A lot of people don’t know that.”

Ferguson said it didn’t sit well with a lot of bullfighters and fans that there was no bullfighting in Ada.

“It was such a big part of the community here in Ada,” Ferguson said. “As a bullfighter myself, I can attest to the popularity and just how far the name of Ada, Oklahoma, has reached in the rodeo and bullfighting world. And to not have an event here, it ate at all of us. We knew it was something the fans wanted to see come back. Now that we have this platform (Bullfighters Only), and we’ve all come together as this group, we felt like there would be no better place to kick off our 2017 season than here.”

The event consists of freestyle bullfighting.

Each fight pits a man against a bull. Bullfighters use jukes, fakes and movements to get around and even jump over a bull.

“The guys are judged on their ability to do so, and the bull is judged on his aggression and quickness and how mean he is, obviously,” Ferguson said. “And his willingness to stay engaged in the fight and stay with the fighter.”

In fact, if a bull is not as rank as he should be, the bullfighter will engage the bull to get him going.

“Anybody can go out, stand in the arena and let the bull run at them,” Ferguson said. “That’s one thing, but the artists get the most that they can out of the bull. Sometimes, if you don’t get the most aggressive bull, you have to get more aggressive yourself. It’s called reading cattle, and there’re certain guys who become legendary in the sport because they’re so good at it.”

There will be two judges — Eddie Hatfield and John Brogan, both former professional bullfighters. Each judge can award 25 points to the fighter, and 25 points to the bull.

On a 100-point scale, a fighter can earn up to 50 points per fight based on his ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over a bull. A bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

There will be 20 bullfights in all during the evening. There will be five rounds to start, with three athletes competing in each round. The best scoring fighter in each round will advance to the championship round.

The best of the best takes the championship.

“And we save the rankest bulls for the championship round,” Ferguson said. “So those guys that get through to the end, that’s where they’ll meet the real superstar bulls. The ones that kind of have a name for themselves.”

In contrast to the older sport of bullfighting, no harm is done to the bulls in freestyle bullfighting. In fact, bulls used in freestyle bullfighting are kept as healthy as possible. And some become quite popular and even have their own fans.

The bulls come from Texas and are pure blood Spanish fighting bulls.

Tickets are on sale now. Kids 3 and under are free. Cost is $10 for general admission. A dirt pass (general admission included) is $25. A dirt pass allows attendees a VIP meet-and-greet.

“Fans can meet with all the fighters before the event and get a behind-the-scenes-tour,” Ferguson said. “It’s a bit of an educational-type deal where fans can get a little closer to the action. And it also includes ringside seating.”

Ferguson said general admission seating is the regular Agri-Plex bleachers, whereas ringside seating are bleachers brought in and placed on the dirt.

Tickets for the bullfight will also get admission to the UBBI Red River Chute Out Bull Riding event at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 21. All seating at the rodeo is general admission.

Tickets are available at Tickets can also be purchased at Boomerang Diner at 211 E. Main Street, or at the door if not sold out.

• About Bullfighters only

“Bullfighters Only is basically a conglomerate of the world’s top bullfighters,” Ferguson said. “The guys who fought in Ada for years when the bullfights were still here. These are the guys that have come together to put this thing on and bring bullfighting home, as we call it.”

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