By: Justin Felisko
August 11, 2018
TULSA, Okla. – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 and the 15/15 Bucking Battle Saturday night at the Express Employment Professionals Classic, presented by Osage Casino & Hotel.
Nance and Leme split Round 1 victory in Tulsa
World title contenders Cody Nance and Jose Vitor Leme are aware of the fact that the last three Tulsa event winners have gone on to win the World Championship.
However, neither rider is going to buy into any superstitions this weekend in Tulsa after splitting the Round 1 victory at the BOK Center.
“No,” Nance replied when asked if he is superstitious. “But I still don’t lay my hat on the bed though. My family and people were trying to hype me up about it, but I am not trying to be hyped up. I just want to take it one bull at a time.
“You can’t think about the outcome until it happens. Then you enjoy it.”
Leme said, with the help of Paulo Crimber translating, “I think that is all a coincidence – being a winner here. There is so much left to go until the Finals. If I do win it, it is great, but the winner only happens after the last bull at the World Finals. I don’t think this matters really much.”
Nance and Leme used 88.5-point rides on Concealed Carry and Pick-It Construction’s Find Jesus, respectively, to earn 80 world points and gain ground on world leader Kaique Pacheco.
Pacheco bucked off Lil 2 Train (4.08 seconds) in Round 1 and Smooth Air(6.29 seconds) in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Nance – the No. 4 rider in the world standings – now trails Pacheco by 709.17 points.
The 30-year-old had to remind himself to remain calm once he was told how good a matchup he had
“Cord McCoy and his dad were talking about how excited they were about that matchup on the way here. Shoot, I was pretty excited after they got to talking to me that I needed to tone it down a little bit because I was getting real excited,” Nance said. “That was a great bull to draw. What a blessing. That bull jumped into the air and kicked over his head. He turned back and did his job. Fortunately I was able to hang with him and ride him jump for jump.”
Leme became the 10th consecutive rider to reach 8 seconds on Find Jesus at the premier series level after he accepted a re-ride option following his 72.75-point ride on Royal Flush.
“That was a really hard bull to ride,” Leme said. “I know he was great, but he tried to pull me over to the front end those first couple of rounds. Then he tried me again and then I got set really good and I think it was a good combo. A good ride.”
Leme was no match for Heartbreak Kid in the 15/15 Bucking Battle, though, and was bucked off in 3.32 seconds.
Heartbreak Kid was the high-marked bull of the 15/15 Bucking Battle with 45.5 points.
The second-year pro moved up one spot in the world standings to No. 6. Leme is 915 points behind Pacheco heading into Championship Sunday.
Rounding out the Top 5 in Round 1 was home state favorite Ryan Dirteater (86 points on Jokers Wild, 50 world points), Lonnie West (85.75 points on Real Gun, 40 world points), Matt Triplett (85.5 points on Chocolate Shake, 22.5 world points) and Fabiano Vieira (85.5 points on Striker, 22.5 world points).
Nance has drawn Show Me Homie (13-1, PBR UTB) for Round 2, while Leme will take on Wound Up (0-0, PBR UTB).
Lockwood wins 15/15 Bucking Battle
A year ago, Jess Lockwood used a ride aboard Seven Dust in the Tulsa 15/15 Bucking Battle and an event win in Tulsa to begin his march toward a World Championship.
Lockwood is hoping it’s déjà vu this weekend and much more.
The 20-year-old rode Canadian Mist for 91.5 points to win his first career 15/15 Bucking Battle, bouncing back from his 7.52-second buckoff against Budakon in Round 1.
“I need to do that more often,” Lockwood said. “I will take that. I didn’t ride in the first round, so I need to ride in the second round. I got lazy toward the whistle on that first one (Budakon) and he slammed me pretty good.”
Lockwood earned 150 world points and the No. 7-ranked bull rider is now within 1,037.5 points of Pacheco.
The Volborg, Montana, bull rider overcame an 865-point deficit last year in the standings.
Lockwood has drawn Times Up (1-0, PBR UTB) for Round 2 on Sunday.
Derek Kolbaba gets revenge against Cochise
Derek Kolbaba appeared poised for his second career 15/15 Bucking Battle victory until Lockwood stole the lead from the Walla Walla, Washington, cowboy.
Kolbaba, though, avenged his summer buckoff against Cochise in Vinita, Oklahoma, which cost him $40,000, by dominating Cochise for 91 points in Tulsa.
The 22-year-old made a conscious effort to not leave the chutes with Cochise too far over the bull so he wouldn’t slap him like he did in Vinita during the first jump.
“I made sure I left with him this time,” Kolbaba said. “He kind of threw some pretty strong jumps. I figured if I could just be up on my legs and be square it would work out around the corner. Coming around the corner he feels like a dream. He is one of those bulls where he is up underneath himself. Once I felt good and I got a seat, I was able to open up and have a lot of fun.”
The 91 points ties Kolbaba’s season high. He previously rode Big Dutch for 91 points in Oklahoma City.
Kolbaba didn’t spend much time studying his past outs on Cochise, including the recent buckoff from this past June.
“No I didn’t,” Kolbaba said. “I saw it one time. That is the thing, a guy can overthink it and let it get to him. You just have to ride them all with the basics and it worked out tonight.”
The ride also ended Kolbaba’s streak of 22 consecutive buckoffs in 15/15 Bucking Battles after winning his debut 15/15 in Anaheim, California, on January 30, 2016 (89.75 points on DaNutso).
“That really shows how much I like them I guess,” Kolbaba said with a laugh.
Kolbaba earned 90 world points to move to within 1,920 points of Pacheco.
There were seven qualified rides in the 15/15 Bucking Battle as riders tried to take advantage of Pacheco’s struggles in Tulsa.
No. 11 Cody Teel finished third for 75 world points with 89.25 points on M.A.G.A.
No. 13 Dakota Buttar placed fourth for 60 world points with 87.75 points on Hedoo.
No. 12 Fabiano Vieira was fifth for 45 world points via an 87.5-point ride on Smooth Over.
No. 10 Dener Barbosa got his first qualified ride in the United States since breaking his foot in March with 87 points on Hydrastar Slinger Jr. for a sixth-place finish (25 world points).
Barbosa is only the fourth rider in 65 outs at all levels of competition to ride Slinger Jr.
Meanwhile, Ramon de Lima rode Wild Goose for 84 points and 10 world points. Lima previously covered Wild Goose to win Iron Cowboy in February.
TULSA DRAW: TULSA BEGINS STRETCH RUN TO THE PBR WORLD FINALS (8-8-18)
The stretch run to the PBR World Finals officially ramps up this weekend with the Express Employment Professionals Classic, presented by Osage Casino and Hotel, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Tulsa is the first of nine regular season 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast events before the World Finals on Nov. 7-11.
The last three World Champions – Jess Lockwood, Cooper Davis and J.B. Mauney – have won Tulsa on their way to the world title, so there is at least a lucky charm factor to the Sooner State event in recent memory.
“It sets up your whole second half,” Lockwood said. “That first one back can decide how your whole second half goes. If it does go bad, you have to jump back and forget about it. But if it does go good, you have confidence and you are just ready to go.”
In fact, six of the last nine Tulsa winners went on to win the World Championship. Mauney did it in 2013 as well, and 2009 and 2010 World Champions Kody Lostroh and Renato Nunes won Tulsa.
Lockwood, Davis and Mauney could all use a victory this weekend for a variety of reasons.
Fans can watch Round 1 on Saturday night exclusively at 7:30 p.m. ET on RidePass.
RELATED: Tulsa Daysheet
The two obvious factors for Lockwood and Davis is that both riders are still very much alive in the 2018 world title race despite first half injuries.
Lockwood – the reigning World Champion – begins the second half seventh in the world standings and 1,187.5 points behind world leader Kaique Pacheco.
Davis is sitting in ninth place and is 1,425 points off Pacheco’s pace.
Both riders overcame second-half deficits the last two seasons, but neither was this far back at the start of the second half. Lockwood was fourth and 865 points back, while Davis was eighth and 795.33 points behind.
“I overcame 800-some points, and this year I am back 1,200,” Lockwood acknowledged. “I feel like I am riding better this year in a way. I am more mature in my riding and I have rode tougher bulls that people don’t normally ride. I plan on being healthier this year and not having to miss events because, shoot, I missed three events last year in the second half. If I can go to every one, I feel like I am just there and perfectly fine.”
Eleven of Lockwood’s 15 qualified rides on the premier series have been for 85 or more points, but his 34.88 percent riding average is 8.8 points lower than his 43.75-percent rate from last season.
Lockwood, who said his injured riding hand flared up once again in Salt Lake City on July 19, takes on Budakon (3-1, PBR UTB) in Round 1 on Saturday night, while Davis has drawn Mind Freak (3-0, PBR UTB).
“If I can get him rode, I think I can have the round won,” Lockwood said.
Pacheco has a 301.67-point lead on No. 2 Claudio Montanha Jr. and is in the driver’s seat at the start of the second half for the second time in three years.
In 2016, Pacheco began the stretch run with a 115.33-point lead atop the standings. Last year he was No. 2 and 105 points out of the top spot.
Pacheco has drawn Lil 2 Train (0-0, PBR UTB) in Round 1.
Historically, any rider within 2,000 points of the world lead at the start of the World Finals has a chance at the world title. Thirteen riders begin the second half within that deficit of Pacheco.
Meanwhile, Mauney is competing via an injury exemption after falling to 39thin the world standings during the summer break.
Mauney has never been ranked this low in the world standings this late into a season, and the 31-year-old has been plagued throughout 2018 by the reconstructive right shoulder surgery he underwent last summer, and then most recently a broken back in April that he sustained attempting to ride the late Pearl Harbor.
Mauney is 73.34 points behind No. 35 Alisson Souza.
Souza finished in second place at the Sterling, Colorado, Touring Pro Division event to rise to No. 35, but the UTB draw had already been set for Tulsa before he was ranked in the Top 35.
Mauney will not be subject to the UTB cutline as he has enough injury exemptions and World Champion exemptions to finish out the final nine regular season events. He will need to be in the Top 35 to qualify for the World Finals for a 13th consecutive time.
If history is on his side and not Father Time, then Mauney will be a good bet to crack the Top 35 sooner rather than later.
The two-time World Champion has historically been a dominant second-half rider too.
Mauney is 186-for-334 (55.69 percent) from Aug. 1 through the PBR World Finals in his career. He has also won Tulsa twice, and it was five years ago when Mauney made history by ending three-time World Champion Bull Bushwacker’s record-setting streak of 42 consecutive buckoffs with a 95.25-point ride.
Mauney has drawn Fly Over (0-0, PBR UTB) for Round 1 on Saturday night.
Mauney and No. 37 Colten Jesse are replacing No. 14 Keyshawn Whitehorse and No. 31 Emilio Resende in the draw.
Whitehorse is week-to-week with a riding hand injury he sustained in Rocksprings, Texas, in June while Resende expects to be out until the second week of October as he continues to recover from reconstructive left shoulder surgery.
Jesse has drawn Mo Money (2-0, PBR UTB) for Round 1.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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