THACKERVILLE, Okla. – After 14 events this season on the Built Ford Tough Series, Robson Aragao is finally getting used to competing with multiple television cameras around him.
It may have taken him most of this season, but the 35-year-old is starting to put a show on for fans tuning in weekly on CBS and CBS Sports Network.
For the past two weeks, Aragao has become a staple of the CBS network broadcast, and he has brought with him every ounce of dancing energy he could mustard.
“I am so happy because before I ride in the Built Ford Tough – before, no one looked at me for a good ride. They expected me to buck off. I wasn’t a good Brazilian bull rider. I am now getting more consistent riding my bulls.”
Aragao is heading toward this weekend’s WinStar World Casino and Resort Invitational in Thackerville, Oklahoma, coming off arguably the two biggest performances of his career.
The Aracaju, Brazil, native followed up his second-place finish in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on national television by being a surprise winner in last weekend’s Second Chance Bracket in Nashville, which was also broadcast to a national TV audience.
He eventually lost to Fabiano Vieira in the Final 4.
Still, Aragao earned a combined 500 points toward the world standings in two weeks – 41.67 percent of his season total.
“I have surprised everyone with how I am riding in these two weeks,” Aragao said. “Everyone is saying, ‘How the hell did Spiderman earn that many points?’”
Aragao faces Divinity (1-0, BFTS) in Round 1 on Friday night.
“I want to win one event,” Aragao said. “I believe I can.”
Aragao earned 150 points at the Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout and appeared on CBS for a second consecutive week by advancing to the Final 4 of the bracket-style event. He upset world No. 4 Matt Triplett and BFTS veteran Cody Nance after eliminating Mason Lowe in the first round of the Second Chance Bracket.
He had qualified for the Second Chance Bracket by riding Vegas Outlaw for 85.75 points in Round 1 of the overall bracket. He then was sent to the Second Chance Bracket after Vieira ousted him in Round 2.
The Second Chance Bracket tested Aragao more than any other event this season.
Aragao attempted five bulls in under an hour as he tried to work his way back into contention for the PBR Major victory.
Overall, he attempted eight bulls in 24 hours and by the time he bucked off Americana in the Final 4 his riding vest was doused in sweat.
Aragao credited training at Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney, Texas, for helping him physically prepare for such a demanding event.
He used his muscle strength more than anything else to try and work his way into contention for the PBR Major victory.
He nearly rode Americana in the Final 4 before bucking off at 7.68 seconds.
Aragao lasted an average of 3.64 seconds in his seven buckoffs.
In comparison, 2014 Iron Cowboy winner Joao Ricardo Vieira lasted an average of 2.68 seconds in six buckoffs.
It is often forgotten that many non-BFTS riders have to pick up secondary jobs to help fund their bull riding careers. This year, Aragao has been able to stay on the BFTS and earn over $80,000 dollars.
The career-high amount of earnings has helped him have more time to dedicate toward training.
“Every day I train and that is making me ride good,” Aragao said. “Before I had to work to pay my bills. Now I on the Built Ford Tough, I train, train and try and go ride my bulls.”
Aragao’s performance may not have been one for the record books, but it was one that left three-time World Champion Silvano Alves impressed.
Alves knows how badly Aragao wants to qualify for his second career World Finals and how much of a struggle it has been for Aragao to even make it to the BFTS during his career. Prior to this year, Aragao hadn’t competed on the BFTS since 2011.
“For a long time he has tried to keep going to the Built Ford Tough and kept going to the Touring Pro every year,” Alves said. “He come here and rides good now. He is a good guy and I am very happy for him.”
Aragao is currently 16th in the world standings and well on his way to qualifying for the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals. He has only ridden 13-of-38 (34.21 percent) of his bulls on the BFTS, but his 18-for-35 (51.43 percent) showing on the BlueDEF Velocity Tour has helped him stay on the BFTS for the majority of the season.
Aragao knows that Nashville was a special event where he could still succeed despite bucking off.
That won’t be the case during the final five BFTS regular-season events before World Finals.
Aragao hopes to build off the comforts of knowing he is safely within the Top 35 of the world standings and focus on becoming a consistent bull rider the rest of the way.
He is less than 600 points behind the Top 10 of the world standings and his goal is to finish the season inside the Top 10 so he can compete at the Calgary Stampede and THE AMERICAN next year.
“I really want to be Top 10 after Finals,” Aragao said. “I know I don’t have a chance for a world title, but I can finish Top 10 for the first time.”
Before he left Bridgestone Arena two weeks ago, Aragao ran into PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert.
Aragao began to boast to Lambert, “Cody, did you see how I did this weekend?’
Lambert laughed and gave Aragao a hard time, before jokingly asking the rider they call Spiderman if he wanted to arm wrestle.
While the two didn’t partake in an epic showdown, the two did laugh again before Aragao left with a smile on his face as he grabbed his gear bag after Lambert shook his hand.
“I will see you in Oklahoma,” Aragao said.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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