By: Justin Felisko
August 16, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney has been in this situation before against Kaique Pacheco, except this time he is the one chasing Pacheco instead of vice versa.
One year after Mauney held off Pacheco’s pursuit of becoming the first rookie to ever win the PBR World Championship, the reigning World Champion is preparing for a fight with Pacheco over the course of the remaining 10 regular-season Built Ford Tough Series events, as well as the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 2-6 at the state-of-the-art T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“Pacheco will be a force to deal with for a long time,” Mauney said. “He will be around for a long time. He rides good enough. He is not like some of them other guys. He does play it smart sometimes, but he will step up and pick the rank ones too.”
Pacheco heads into the Frontier Communications Music City Knockout, presented by Cooper Tires, as the world’s No. 1 bull rider for the first time following his Last Cowboy Standing victory in May at the last PBR Major.
The 21-year-old, who jumped from 13th to first in the standings by earning 920 world points in Las Vegas, used a couple of PBR Brazil summer events to extend his lead over Mauney to 115.33 points.
Pacheco went 11-for-18 (61.11 percent) at PBR events in Brazil and America. His best performance came in Estero, Florida, where he went 2-for-2 to win the Touring Pro Division event. He tied with Fabiano Vieira for the most summer world points earned among Top-10 riders.
The second-year pro is also the defending champion in Nashville and was not intimidated by the PBR’s only bracket-style event. He also won the historic PBR Barretos event last season, which is taking place this coming weekend in Brazil.
In the grand scheme of things, Pacheco and Mauney are beginning the stretch run to the Finals neck-and-neck as one strong event can shake up the world standings for each of them.
A year after setting a rookie record with 37 qualified rides, Pacheco is likely going to shatter his personal best after going 27-for-54 (50 percent) through the season’s first 16 events. He has increased his riding percentage by 2.56 percent compared to last year as well.
Being above 50 percent is crucial when it comes to winning a PBR world title. Since 2000, every World Champion has ridden above 50 percent. The lowest riding percentage of a World Champion since then was Mauney’s 2013 average of 52.81.
Mauney currently leads the BFTS with a 54.55 percent riding percentage. The only other riders currently converting above 50 percent are Eduardo Aparecido (50 percent) and Vieira (50 percent).
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said he has seen similarities between the two riders.
“I am not ruling out Kaique (in the world title race),” Lambert said. “He is just a quiet winner. He’s got a little bit of the Silvano style,” Lambert said. “He goes in and let’s his riding do the talking.”
One of the biggest similarities between the two riders is how unaffected they are by riding on the world’s biggest stage.
When Pacheco slides into the bucking chutes against his close to 2,000-pound bovine opponents he is relaxed. He doesn’t hear the in-arena announcers analyzing every aspect of his career, he blocks out the thousands of screaming fans cheering for him in a language that is still very much foreign to him and he is able to block out the fears of life vs. death in the arena.
“I stay there on top, calm, concentrated,” Pacheco says in the upcoming Netflix documentary, “Fearless.” “I adjust my rope. I close my eyes. And I picture him bucking. All kinds of buck he could possibly do. I think of nothing else. I think of nothing else except me and the bull. I breathe deeply. I try to relax.”
Pacheco is one of the featured riders in “Fearless” and throughout the six episodes fans learn more about the rising Brazilian star. The series debuts Friday.
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray says during the documentary, “Kaique is a real talent. It is always exciting whenever you are ever able to see a young guy come around that you go whoa, this guy is legit.
“Ever since I was a kid, since I started, I’ve always watched videos of my rides,” Pacheco says. “This is something that helps me a lot to fix my mistakes. Even my mother and my father say that sometimes when I get bucked off I get mad at myself. I get closed off. That’s how I am, I have always been this way, and I don’t think I can change that. Just like in Brazil, I don’t really like to go out when I come to these events. I stay in my room, focused, waiting to go to the event. And nothing more.”
He is focused on the ultimate goal. He has made his dreams of coming to the United States and riding in the PBR a reality, but he won’t be satisfied until he fulfills his desired destiny.
“I used to watch it and picture myself there… riding with them,” Pacheco says. “And I told myself, ‘That’s where I’m going. I’m going to be the World Champion. That’s what I want for myself.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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