BY KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Shorty Gorham’s American Freestyle Bullfighting provided Cade Gibson everything he could have wanted when he decided to pursue bullfighting on a fulltime basis.
He quit his job and he moved to Texas for what he saw as an opportunity to do what he loved.
More importantly, he took advantage of the opportunity.
He won the 2018 AFB title — the first in AFB history — and in turn the success provided him with the opportunity to pick up more work providing cowboy protection, including four lower-level PBR events and he will fill his PRCA permit with his fifth PRCA event in two weeks.
He’s provided cowboy protection alongside AFB founder Shorty Gorham and PBR legend Frank Newsom.
“It’s been a blessing,” Gibson said.
The protection workload has limited his freestyle schedule in 2019 and he last fought at the Beast Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Uvalde, Texas, however, he’s currently ranked fifth in the AFB world standings.
Gibson is back this coming weekend in Puyallup, Washington, which features five—Alex McWilliams, 1; Tristan Seargeant, 2; Sage Seay, 4; Richard Wayne Ratley, 7, and Andres Gonzalez, 8—of the other Top 10 freestyle bullfighters.
Kody Adams, Colton Orcutt, Cody Escobedo, Ryker Fenstermaker, Andrew Garey, Tyler Norton, Tanner Scott, Dawson Solis and Bailey Ziehl make up the rest of the 15-man draw.
“You better make the most of the opportunity,” Gibson said. “I hope nothing but the best out for that bull and the best out for me. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it (doesn’t). That’s the name of the game.
“I don’t care about standings. I mean one of my best friends is leading the world right now and I wish him nothing the best and he’ll be up there, so it’s just going to elevate both of our games.”
That said, with the World Finals looming in the not so distant future, Gibson does believe there are enough points available to win a second title—but, again, it’s a matter of taking advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.
“I don’t show up to take second,” Gibson said. “If you’re not going there to take first then there’s no reason to even step foot in the arena. I’m not just going to go place or anything like that.
“Ultimately, you (have to) beat your bull and let the judges take it into their hands. You leave everything out there and leave them no choice but to mark you what you deserve.”
One fundamental difference between freestyle and protection bullfighting, is that when providing protection bullfighters work hard to do their job without being noticed.
Whereas freestyle is about being seen and, quite frankly, showing off their skills. Freestyle success depends on impressing crowds and judges alike.
“It’s still fighting bulls,” Gibson said. “Whether you’re protecting cowboys or freestyle, you (have to) read your cattle and make the most of what they’re giving you. If they’re not giving you enough then you have to take the fight to them … and make them perform. It’s a dance out there and that’s your partner that you’ve drawn.”
Gibson added, “Just being able to take what I’ve learned in the freestyle game and applied it and cowboy protection. When you get a tight spot … you can slide in a gap and then be able to step around and make it work out.”
He’s looking forward to the Puyallup event.
And he’s looking forward to competing with friends.
“It should be a good bullfighting,” Gibson concluded. “I think it’s going to be a preview of what Vegas is going to be. Your top guys are going to be out there.
“It’s going to be electric.”