By: Justin Felisko
February 22, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The last six World Champion Bulls – SweetPro’s Long John (2015), Bushwacker (2011, 2013, 2014), Asteroid (2012), Bones (2008, 2010 ), Code Blue (2009) and Chicken on a Chain (2007) – have something in common besides winning top bucking bull honors in the PBR.
They all have been conquered by two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney.
The PBR’s newly-minted No. 1 bull rider in the world standings following this weekend’s Built Ford Tough Kansas City Clash has successfully ridden every World Champion Bull since 2007 at least once time in his 11-year career.
In fact, the 2006 Rookie of the Year actually has 10 qualified rides aboard the six World Champions, including a 90.25-point ride on Long John this year in Oklahoma City.
“I didn’t know that,” Mauney said with a look of surprise inside the Sprint Center. “I like getting on the rank bulls. I like proving to myself I can ride them. It has nothing to do with anybody else. It has to do with what is inside me. It is something in my heart.”
The only World Champion he never got to cover was 2006 champ Mossy Oak Mudslinger, who he never even attempted.
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray was stunned when told of Mauney’s record.
“That is a big deal,” he said. “I am really impressed hearing that stat. It just points directly at the type of rider and type of approach J.B. Mauney has. He really is a superstar. He really is. He is a sports hero when you look at his accomplishments.”
At times in his career, Mauney has been the PBR’s version of Beowulf. He will continuously challenge the rankest bulls in the business until he slays his opposing dragon.
Three-time World Champion Bull Bushwacker was his Grendel, and they met 13 times with Mauney only be successful one time in Tulsa, Oklahoma for 95.25 points in 2013.
Who may possibly be his next victim?
Is there one?
“Oh yeah,” Mauney said with a smirk of confidence. “There is one that sticks out in my mind and that is Air Time. He has thrown me off twice. Last time I got on him, I feel like I was right dead where I needed to be and the next jump I was on my face.
“When one hands me my ass like that, it usually tends to piss me off. He is in the back of my brain. That is for sure.”
Mauney was referencing last year’s showdown in Charlotte when Air Time handled Mauney in 4.57 seconds and was marked 45.5 points.
Air Time may not have won a World Champion Bull title in his career yet, but he nearly won it in 2015 and is expected to be in the running for the 2016 title.
Jared Allen’s top bovine superstar will buck for the second time this season at the Choctaw Casino Iron Cowboy powered by Kawasaki brought to fans locally by Sonic, on Saturday night.
“Winning the World Championship is the main thing, and the World Finals, but Iron Cowboy has to be right up near the top,” Mauney said. “That is where you separate the men from the boys. You are not going to go get one or two bulls a night. You win that deal, you are looking at four or five of the rankest bulls in the world. You have to have an entirely whole different mentality when you climb into the bucking chutes.
Air Time debuted this season in Oklahoma City with a 1.61-second buckoff against Ryan Dirteater.
Also joining Air Time in Arlington, Texas, this weekend will be Asteroid, who bucked off Joao Ricardo Vieira in St. Louis for a 45.75-point bull score two weeks ago.
Mauney said his 93.5-point ride on Asteroid at the 2012 BFTS event in San Antonio would have to be his second-biggest ride when it comes to defeating the six World Champions.
“Asteroid would have to be right up there with it because if Bushwacker wouldn’t have been around, Asteroid would have won it however many years,” Mauney said. “They are two of the rankest bulls I was able to see in my career. Now that he is back, I am going to try and ride him again.”
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mauney square off against one of the top bucking bulls in the business Saturday at AT&T Stadium.
Coincidentally, Mauney lasted 7.22 seconds on Bushwacker to win the 2012 Iron Cowboy in the previously formatted bracket event.
Mauney also rode Chicken on a Chain for 90 points at the 2011 Iron Cowboy when he finished runner-up to eventual winner Colby Yates. It was one of three instances in which he successfully covered Chicken on a Chain.
“I rode him a few times and he was one of the better bulls,” Mauney said. “He was raised right here in South Carolina and I had seen him for a long time. When they started bringing him, he wrecked me out a few times and we rode him a couple of times. He was always a good rival.”
Mauney heads into this year’s Iron Cowboy with a 227.5-point lead on No. 2 Paulo Lima in the world standing. When he won the 2012 Iron Cowboy, Mauney also began the event No. 1 in the world.
Throughout 2016, Mauney has thrived with the added-attention surrounding his world title defense.
He has stated repeatedly he wants to become the second rider in history to win back-to-back gold buckles, and he is well on his way to potentially becoming only the third rider in PBR history with three gold buckles.
He has won the last two 15/15 Bucking Battles on national television and appears to be peaking just at the right time with the next PBR Major coming up this weekend.
He is 15-for-25 (60 percent) and leads the BFTS with six round wins through the first seven events.
“That is when it gets the hardest,” Murray said. “When there are big expectations for you, and all the glare is on you, and everybody is looking at you. To be at your best under those kind of circumstances is not something you teach somebody. That is something you are born with or the way you are raised is pointed to it.
“It isn’t like he handles pressure pretty good. He rises up when the moment is the biggest or the odds are the most stacked against him. When he is hurt, and he can barely limp to the chute that might be when he makes the best ride of the year.”
If Mauney has his way, Air Time may just be next.
“I love riding bulls and I like getting on rank bulls,” he said. “I want to prove to myself I can ride those rank bulls. Anytime they give me a chance, I am going to take it.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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