By: Justin Felisko
January 22, 2016
OKLAHOMA CITY – Guilherme Marchi is strongly committed to riding for at least two more years on the Built Ford Tough Series.
The 2008 World Champion still has a burning desire to win that elusive second World Championship and join the list of five PBR bull riders with multiple world titles.
However, the question becomes is that dream actually hindering his ability to accomplish the goal itself?
Marchi is making his season debut this weekend at the Express Employment Professionals Classic after deciding to not undergo multiple knee surgeries during the offseason.
The 33-year-old tore his right MCL attempting to ride Oscar P during the third round of the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals. That injury occurred close to two months after he tore his left PCL/MCL in Thackerville, Oklahoma, trying to make 8 seconds aboard Cut the Cord.
Marchi had originally said at the end of the 2015 World Finals that he would undergo surgery and take off 2016.
Marchi also did not get surgery for his torn right bicep (riding hand) he injured at the 2015 Calgary Stampede.
Why did he change his mind?
“I don’t know,” Marchi said. “I am a little scared. I need to fix both knees. I need surgery. It would take a year to heal. If I did surgery after the Finals, I wouldn’t come back until after the break (mid-August) and that was for one knee. For both knees I, wouldn’t be back until next year.
“I want to try and work without surgery. I don’t know. This is my choice.”
Marchi begins his 13th year on the Built Ford Tough Series as the active leader in qualified rides (548), but he is coming off his first non-Top 10 finish in the world standings in 11 years.
He concluded 2015 16th in the world standings, and ever since the Calgary Stampede things just kept going downhill for the Leme, Brazil bull rider. At the time of his biceps injury, Marchi was seventh in the world standings and in contention for the 2015 world title.
Marchi competed in only two BFTS events after the injury and nodded his head three times at the Finals before shredding his right knee.
He has yet to record a qualified ride since all of the injuries occurred.
Marchi’s end to 2015 embarrassed him, as did his 1-for-5 showing at the 2014 World Finals. He doesn’t want those images of him being helped out of the arena or being tossed onto his back so frequently being the final ones of his career.
“I want to go two more years and go hard,” Marchi said. “I have a dream to be a champion again and I want to finish these years strong. After last year, and the year before last year at the Finals, it hurt me a little bit.”
Regardless, Marchi admits he isn’t sure how this weekend will go.
“Dr. Tandy (Freeman) maybe kill me tomorrow, but it is alright,” Marchi said with a nervous laugh. “It is doing good. I have been rehabbing the past couple of weeks.”
Marchi hasn’t attempted any practice bulls and has been staying in shape by training and rehabbing at Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney, Texas.
He also has been riding on horseback to help strengthen his knee, and he competed at United States Team Roping Championships events, including the USTRC National Finals of Team Roping last fall.
“The knee I hurt, the left knee, before the Finals feels good,” Marchi said. “I feel pain in the right knee. Surgery scares me a little bit. Before I hurt it, I knew that knee was no good. Then I hurt the other one.”
Marchi has remained active on his Instagram account since the World Finals, promoting his new hat brand (Marchicaps).
“In Brazil, they sold everyone the caps,” Marchi said. “We are designing more hats and I want to start selling my own here in the United States.”
He also posted a video of him riding his tame bull (White) in a race against his son J.G., who was riding a bike.
“I have been riding my tame bull,” Marchi said. “The bull I ride like a horse. Riding him helps my legs get strong. I have been doing a lot of things, but I don’t know if I will be OK when I get on a bull.”
Marchi was supposed to return last week for the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden before flip-flopping on his decision.
“I am so happy to come back this week,” Marchi said. “It is hard (being home). Last two events, I stayed home and watched those people ride them bulls. I was supposed to come last week, but I wasn’t feeling good to come. I had no confidence. I needed to train a little more this week.”
Marchi’s Round 1 matchup against Sketchy Bob (0-0, BFTS), and the entire weekend, will go a long way to determining his 2016 future. He even hinted that if things go very poor, he will likely end up getting surgery after all.
“I know I am going to be prepared for sure,” Marchi said. “The more I get on –I don’t know. Let’s see what happens. If I can’t handle it, maybe I will get surgery.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.