By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – His buckoff streak may be over, but The Right Stuff will get a chance for revenge against reigning World Champion Jose Vitor Leme next month.
Reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger announced Thursday that Leme has accepted a challenge to have a rematch against The Right Stuff on June 18 at the Dakota Community Bank & Trust PBR Bull Riding Challenge.
Leme will take home $10,000 if he can successfully ride The Right Stuff for a second time.
“I’m very excited,” Leme said. “That bull is very hard, but I think this matchup will be fun.”
The world No. 1 bull rider put an end to The Right Stuff’s consecutive buckoff streak of 25 in a row on the premier series, and 26 overall, by riding the Chad Berger bovine athlete for 89.5 points during the championship round of the PBR Nampa Invitational last month.
The Right Stuff previously had bucked Leme off on two occasions. The 6-year-old bull first disposed of Leme on February 1, 2019, in 6.87 seconds in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Right Stuff then bucked Leme off in Kansas City, Missouri, last season in 6.24 seconds, breaking three of Leme’s ribs in the process.
“I am really excited to bring it to Bismarck,” Berger said. “When you have a bull who has only been ridden twice in his career, once by two-time World Champion Jess Lockwood and once by the reigning champ Jose Vitor Leme, it is exciting. He has bucked Jose off a couple of times, but to have a rematch right in Bismarck is pretty special for our event.”
Leme would have easily been north of 90 points inside the Ford Idaho Center if not for the final two seconds of his qualified ride. The 24-year-old was nearly bucked off just past six seconds but somehow held onto his bull rope while hanging off the side of The Right Stuff until the 8-second mark.
“That was the will to win,” Leme said.
“I don’t want to say he got lucky, but he got caught up there a little bit and he just barely made the whistle,” Berger said. “I was excited for him. This matchup is a toss of a coin. It will be who has a better day. Jose is such a correct rider that if he does everything right, there is just not a bull that can buck him off. But he does not have one inch for error, or else that bull will get him.”
Berger predicted the possibility of Leme ending his bull’s buckoff streak a week before Leme reached the 8-second mark.
“I will tell you. It is going to go on until Jose Vitor Leme picks him. Then I think it will end,” Berger said in Oklahoma City. “I don’t know if he ever will because he is hard to ride. Leme is always going to normally have one of the first picks. There are so many nice bulls that I don’t know if we will ever get around to it. We will have to be at a place where he bucked off one and has a later pick, and maybe he will latch onto him.”
Leme was not perfect in Nampa, and he went into the championship round draft in Nampa with the sixth pick.
The Right Stuff was marked a season-best 45.75 points with Leme. He most recently bucked off Mauricio Moreira in 2.54 seconds last weekend in Omaha, Nebraska, for a 45.25-point bull score.
“The bull has been bucking everybody off so fast that it was good to see what that bull would do (after he was ridden),” Berger said. “He bounced back in Omaha, and I think he was ranker there than anywhere before. That was a true test, and the bull came back stronger than ever. Sometimes that is what has to happen.”
The Right Stuff is currently sixth in the YETI World Champion Bull standings with a 45.22-point average score on his best eight outs. He is 12-1 on the Unleash The Beast overall with a 44.87-point average.
Berger believes The Right Stuff has what it takes to become a title contender as the season progresses.
“The Right Stuff is the most underrated bull in the PBR,” the Mandan, North Dakota, native said. “Eventually, they will mark him what he is worth.”
This is the second year in a row in which Berger has invited Leme to participate in a $10,000 bounty matchup.
Leme won the “Marquis Metal Works Duel in the Dirt” and $10,000 last August by riding Good Night Robicheaux for 87 points. Good Night Robicheaux entered that matchup 20-0 on the premier series and 35-0 at all levels of PBR competition.
“Jose is a gamer,” Berger concluded. “He is a player. He’s got the confidence of a lion. He doesn’t think there is a bull in the world that can buck him off. There probably ain’t. If they get him once, he will come right back at him. To have a key matchup in Bismarck, I am real excited. This is something we can promote for the next month and a half and sell some tickets and have a great time in Bismarck.”
Last year was also Leme’s first trip to Bismarck, a place he quickly realized that loves the PBR.
“I was only there once, and it was enough to see how people there are fans of PBR. All of that support was really cool.”
LEME SLATED TO COMPETE IN CORPUS CHRISTI THIS WEEKEND
There is still plenty of work for Leme to attend to before making the trek north to Bismarck for Berger’s annual Touring Pro Division event.
First up is this weekend’s WCRA Major Rodeo Corpus Christi (May 6-9), where Leme will look to increase his 27-point lead on No. 2 Kaique Pacheco in the PBR world standings.
Pacheco is not competing in Corpus Christi, so the door is open for Leme to garner some additional points in the world standings.
The WCRA event offers Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour-level points, which also count towards the PWVT standings. A win in Corpus Christi could go a long way towards Leme also qualifying for the 2021 Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Finals on Oct. 30-31 in Las Vegas.
Other notable Top 30 riders tentatively expected to compete at the WCRA event this weekend include No. 4 Joao Ricardo Vieira, No. 6 Colten Fritzlan, No. 9 Derek Kolbaba, No. 11 Keyshawn Whitehorse and No. 18 Cody Teel.
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Vieira already has an automatic berth for the Showdown Round on Sunday because of his No. 1 ranking on the WCRA leaderboard. Vieira will be joined by the Top 8 athletes from the qualifying and progressive rounds of action in the showdown round. From there, the Top 3 scores or times will advance to the Triple Crown of Rodeo Round, where they will compete for their share of the more than $500,000 event purse.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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