By: Justin Felisko
January 26, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Fabiano Vieira doesn’t spend much time looking at the championship round draw like some of his Brazilian counterparts normally do on the final day of a Built Ford Tough Series weekend.
Vieira normally wants to focus on getting past his final long round bull of the weekend before taking a good, hard look at the list of bulls in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
That was the case once again on Sunday afternoon in Oklahoma City, but once he rode Fire & Smoke for 83.75 points to take over the event average lead there was no question who Vieira wanted to select.
Vieira knew he would choose Red Moon with the first pick of the championship round draft after picking the bull for Eduardo Aparecido during the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
It was during the Round 4 bull draft last year that Aparecido and Vieira had both wanted to select Red Moon, but Vieira surrendered the choice to Aparecido and selected Fire Bender one pick before Aparecido drafted.
Regardless, both riders came through victorious in that round with Aparecido placing third in the round with an 88.5-point ride on Red Moon and Vieira placing fifth with an 87.5-point ride on Fire Bender.
Vieira’s passing of Red Moon had helped Aparecido earn $12,000 in that round.
This time around, Vieira’s season-high 89.25-point ride on Red Moon helped him seal his 11th career BFTS event victory and a $30,000 payday – a $25,000 increase from the $5,000 he won in Round 4 at the Finals – at this past weekend’s Express Employment Professionals Invitational.
“In Vegas, me and Eduardo picked these bulls,” Vieira said. “Tonight, I told him ‘I am going to pick this bull this time.’ Eduardo was 88.5 points, me was 87.5 (in Vegas). This is good. Eduardo rode this bull and I rode him 89.25 points.”
The ride capped Vieira’s perfect 4-for-4 weekend that earned him 595 points and the No. 3 ranking in the world standings.
“I was a little scared because my rope moved a little bit in there,” Vieira said about Red Moon. “Once I pulled my rope. I put it on the side a little bit because he spins fast to the left. I didn’t want to slide off the side with the spin.”
Vieira rode KA264 for 85.5 points in Round 1 and Shilo for 85.75 points in Round 2.
“My first bull was complicated,” he said. “He spun right and he was a little bit close to the bucking chute. He is a really good draw. He likes to spin. Because I have a little complication with a bull spinning right, but it is OK.”
Oklahoma City is his first 4-for-4 BFTS weekend since winning the 2014 New York BFTS event. Vieira did go 4-for-5 to win the ride score championship at the Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout last season.
In fact, Vieira has posted at least two qualified rides in 10 of his last 12 BFTS events, including the 2015 Finals.
All of which continue to point toward the fact that Vieira has officially put his unstable right shoulder that he first dislocated in May 2014 behind him after many believed he would need to get surgery if he ever hoped to contend for a PBR World Championship.
So far in 2016, Vieira has shown a greater trust in the shoulder and has been willing to whip and move his arm freely compared to holding it close to his chest last season.
“I think this is the best year,” he said. “I feel more better. My shoulder is 100 percent healthy.”
Vieira added that his friendship with Aparecido has helped in his rehab.
“I am team roping every day at my house,” he said. “Me and Eduardo every day at my house. That is good for my shoulder.”
CBS Sports Network commentator and 2005 World Finals event winner J.W. Hart added, “Consistency. That is what it is about. You have to be consistent and make the whistle consistency. We wanted him to get his shoulder fixed, but he just keeps proving us wrong. He doesn’t need to get it fixed. He can be one of the best in the world the way it is.”
Vieira trails world leader Paulo Lima by 338.34 points heading into this weekend’s 15/15 Bucking Battle. Vieira is slated to face Boot Jack (20-2, BFTS).
Boot Jack has only been ridden by Reese Cates (90.5 points in Billings, Montana) and Ryan Dirteater (86.25 points at the 2014 World Finals).
Vieira was disqualified during the last 15/15 Bucking Battle two weeks ago in New York because of a chute clock violation, something that almost happened again in Oklahoma City.
“In the 15/15 in New York City, I thought the bull was never good in the bucking chutes,” he said. “Today, the bull gave me a good chance.”
Hart added, “His history shows when they put him on the clock he usually winds up getting disqualified. It throws him into a tizzy and confuses him or something. I don’t know. He kind of locks up or something. Tonight, being the last guy to ride and all he had to do was stay on to win and he kind of refocused.”
Regardless, Hart believes Vieira can contend for a world title this season.
“His riding speaks for itself,” Hart said. “It is a long year though.”
Vieira has begun the season 6-for-11 (54.55 percent). He has posted at least 40 qualified rides in each of the past two seasons to go along with a riding percentage above 50 percent.
Vieira knows history is not on his side and that it is very early in the season.
Adriano Moraes is the last bull rider older than 30 to win a PBR World Championship. Moraes won the 2006 championship at 36 years old.
Moraes is the oldest World Champion in PBR history and one of only three riders 30 years or older to win the world title.
“I think it would be good, but I am 33 years old,” Vieira said. “I feel young. I feel 22 years. I feel like I am getting better and better. I don’t know. There is too much competition until the Finals. This is the third event of the PBR. I think it is too early. I want to concentrate on riding. It is too early to think about the World Championship. I need to ride, ride, ride.
“Every bull rider wants to be a World Champion.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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