LAS VEGAS – Here are three things to watch for in Round 2 of the Built Ford Tough World Finals on Thursday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
World Champion Bull Contenders set for rematches
Three of the six World Champion Bull contenders competing in Round 2 have rematches during their quest for the 2015 title.
Smooth Operator, Stone Sober and Jared Allen’s Air Time have all previously faced their upcoming opponents.
Air Time and Renato Nunes have met twice in the past two seasons. However, Air Time has bucked off Nunes in three consecutive outs since the 2009 World Champion rode him for 92.25 points in Phoenix in 2014.
Air Time averages 44.75 points per out with Nunes.
“It is a different Air Time than the first time Renato rode him,” PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said Tuesday.
Round 2 will be an opportunity for Smooth Operator to get some revenge against Guilherme Marchi after the 2008 World Champion rode him for 83.5 points in Billings, Montana, earlier this season.
However, Smooth Operator was only marked a career-low 41 points.
“He is better to ride than Air Time,” Marchi said during a pre-World Finals CBS Sports Network meeting. “I like that bull. That bull bucks.”
Marchi hopes he can help Chad Berger’s bovine athlete put together a better performance on Thursday.
I remember I rode him in Billings and he didn’t ride so good,” Marchi said. “He stayed close to the fence.”
Stone Sober is 2-0 against Douglas Duncan and averages 44 points and a 3.82-second buckoff versus him.
Can Fabiano Vieira be the first to ride Jeremiah?
Speaking of World Champion Bull contenders, Jeremiah comes into the Finals 13-0 on the Built Ford Tough Series and 27-0 overall.
Jeremiah will try to keep his streak going and make a case at claiming the 2015 World Champion Bull title when he takes on Fabiano Vieira.
Vieira has ridden eight of his last 10, including his 86.75-point ride on Crazy Days.
Can Davis contend for World Finals event title?
Cooper Davis sits second in the event following his 89-point ride on Hy Test last night and the rookie is looking to become the first rookie since Jody Newberry in 2003 to win the World Finals event title.
Davis has a good matchup in Round 2 against Cowboy’s Dance Hall’s Panda Trax, who he previously bested for 87 points during the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Colorado Springs, Colorado, this season.
“He is a really good little bull with a big attitude,” Davis said. “He should shoot out of there around the left, but he could go back to the right. I just have to get up after riding him a little faster than I did last time. He did run me over pretty good.”
Davis has ridden seven of his last 10.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko