By: Ted Stovin
FORT WORTH, Texas — With more than $140,000 up for grabs, Tucker Lane knows he needs a big showing at the Fort Worth Freestyle this week to stake his claim at or near the top of the Ultimate Bullfighters (UBF) world standings.
In 2021, Lane was in contention for the UBF world title, ranking inside the top three ahead of the World Finals in Fort Worth at Cowtown Coliseum. However, an unfortunate ankle injury had him on the sidelines on crutches and in the press box, out of competition.
Knox Dunnnow also out due to injury, would wind up the World Champion.
“It’s definitely a day-by-day thing,” Lane said of his ankle today. “There are days when I wake up and feel really good, and I know that I can compete at a very high level. Then there are days that I don’t know what I’ve got in the tank as far as my ankle goes. I came back to my first event in Clayton, Georgia, and placed third in the event. It was a really cool thing to make it back to where I was at.”
Not having qualified for the final weekend and big money at the Fort Worth Freestyle, Lane will have to leave the first two days of Wildcard competition in the top two or three spots to qualify for the second semifinal weekend.
“I went to Fort Worth for the qualifier event and didn’t have the endurance to fight a fourth bull, so that cost me a bit that week,” Lane said of the UBF and PBR’s Bulls Gone Wild event series this spring. “I just have to take it slow, take time off and take care of myself in a way I have never had to before. I have to be smart, and I have to make business decisions.”
Even second place in Fort Worth over the next ten days pays as much as the 2021 World Champion bonus ($25,000). This week’s Freestyle Bullfighting event is the richest in the sport’s history.
“I think it takes our sport to a whole new level to have a standalone that pays this much money,” Lane said. “When you start adding this kind of money, it’s taking things to a global stage, and it’s always been a dream of ours to be on a stage like that.
“I think that the UBF has done a great job in elevating not just our brand but the whole sport to a level we were never sure we could get to. It’s pretty awesome to be a part of it. I’m on the poster for the PBR World Finals. Even though it’s something that’s so little, it’s something that a few years ago seemed like would never happen.
“I’m just excited to be a part of an organization that makes us feel and look like rock stars.”
Lane runs in a tight circle with the 2020 UBF World Champion Chance Moormanwho wound up second to Dunn in 2021.
“Chance and I, we kind of have this agreement to where we’re always brutally honest with each other. We don’t always see things the way the judges see them,” Lane said. “Sometimes Chance wins, and I’ll let him know, ‘Hey, you could have done this better,’ or I’ll win, and he’ll let me know I could have done a little better. It’s just the respect we have for each other and making sure we are always holding each other to the highest standard.
“We were both the new guys on tour in 2018. We both took the world by storm that year. It’s been quite a journey seeing the two of us come from a bunch of nobodies to being guys that now set the standard. It’s pretty cool, and I’d like to think a lot of that is because we have held each other to such high expectations.”
With the extreme variety of freestyle bullfighting, athletes must pick and choose their bouts and where they spend their time and efforts.
“It’s not always the easiest to decide what bull fights I can go to and what bull fights I can’t,” Lane said. “But when you have a bull fight like this where there’s so much money added, you kind of have to forget about all of that.
“Whether I’m on a bum ankle or not, they have to pay out that money to somebody, and for $50,000, I could go buy myself a new one.”
Through four days of competition, 33 of the world’s best bullfighters are set to assemble in the Lone Star State outside Will Rogers Coliseum on May 13, 14, and 20, with the finale taking place on May 21, starting at 10:30 pm inside the historic Cowtown Coliseum.
On the first weekend, 15 challengers fight for their share of $20,000 in the Fort Worth Freestyle Wildcard Rounds. The top two or three, barring a potential injury replacement, advance to the second weekend dubbed the Fort Worth Freestyle Semifinal Rounds where the 15 seeded athletes have already staked their claim.
On Day 1 of the second weekend, May 20, all 18 will fight one bull, with the Top 12 advancing to Saturday, May 21, back at Cowtown Coliseum. After a first round of head-to-head matches, the top six will fight one more bull for their share of a $100,000 Saturday night purse, with $50,000 awarded to the No. 1 man.
It all starts this Friday at 3 pm outside Dickies Arena at the Will Rogers Tent.
For tickets, merchandise, standings and more information, visit UltimateBullfighters.com,
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