By: Justin Felisko
February 23, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Is Eduardo Aparecido ready to shift gears and take the next step in his professional bull riding career?
That seems to be the outstanding question for the fourth-year Brazilian bull rider.
Aparecido is fresh off his third Built Ford Tough Series victory this past weekend, a 3-for-3 work of perfection at the Built Ford Tough Kansas City Clash, and is once again ranked inside the Top 10 of the world standings.
The 25-year-old has finished seventh, sixth and 11th in the world standings in each of his first three years, and now be ready to make the next step in his career.
“This year I have more experience,” Aparecido said with the help of Valdiron de Oliveira translating. “All of the years, I got more experience. Sometimes, that first year to come over here to America was hard. I didn’t know the language and the bulls were different. Now I stay more calm and focused. I am more familiar being here in America.”
Aparecido showed ice cold composure in Kansas City by riding Texicali for an event-winning 89 points during the Built Ford Tough Championship round roughly 5 minutes after earning a re-ride option during his 81.25-point ride on Bootdaddy.com.
He rode Glory Days for 85.5 points in Round 1 and Big Benny for 85 points in Round 2.
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said Aparecido was flawless.
“This wasn’t a lucky thing where he drew all of the right bulls and they all just kind of matched up to what they needed and all the other guys bucked off,” Murray said. “He had bulls that went left and right, and he was there for all of it.
After spending his first couple of seasons learning how to operate in the United States with his iPhone translation app and traveling all over the country from bull riding to bull riding, Aparecido says he is finally comfortable.
He can now focus 100 percent on bull riding and not be as worried about adjusting to a new country with his family.
The results in the arena through the first six events are beginning to show a change in Aparecido.
He is off to the best start of his career (12-for-24) and is on pace to break his career-high of 37 qualified rides set in 2014.
He is currently seventh in the world standings and sits only 683.34 points behind world leader J.B. Mauney.
A career 46.7 percent bull rider, Aparecido is converting at a 50 percent clip heading into this weekend’s Choctaw Casino Iron Cowboy, powered by Kawasaki.
“It is very important to win Iron Cowboy because one more dream will come true,” Aparecido said. “I have come over here for this dream to win the world title and be the best.”
Aparecido said one of the biggest things inside the arena that he had to adjust to since beginning to compete full time in the United States in 2013 was getting used to failure.
Not that any bull rider should accept failure, but Aparecido had to learn that the bulls in the United States were so much ranker than in Brazil that it would be nearly impossible to ride everything they ran underneath him.
“The hard thing was the bulls,” he said. “They are very different. In Brazil, you are more consistent. You do not fall off bulls. You fall off maybe 10 bulls in a year. Here is more. The bulls are more rank. It is more difficult here in America.”
He had to learn how to bounce back and how to put together a full season.
Murray said he could understand Aparecido needed to learn how to adjust to the grind of the BFTS.
The CBS Sports Network commentator has kept an eye on Aparecido ever since two-time World Champion Justin McBride said he was a fan of Aparecido.
“A guy has to learn how to grind out a season and it is not easy,” Murray said. “It is hard for a lot of different reasons. The wear and tear on your body. The length and time you have to stay focused. How you don’t get lulled into this is where you begin to mail it in. To have your intensity level where it needs to be every time the gate opens.”
Aparecido was the 2013 runner-up to Joao Ricardo Vieira for Rookie of the Year, and he finished fourth at the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas.
He feels ready to make the next step now.
“I didn’t win Rookie of the Year because of nerves,” he said. “I wanted to win, but my hope is to continue and win the world. It is not an easy decision. It is God’s decision. I am ready to win the World Championship this year. I feel ready. I am mentally good. I am OK. I am healthy.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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