By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – The PBR has awarded its World Champion Bull title in various ways during the league’s 27-year history, and the current format has led to one of the tightest championship races in recent memory.
Current No. 1 YETI World Champion Bull contender Chiseled leads No. 2 and reigning World Champion Smooth Operator by a slim 0.03 points in the world standings ahead of the 2020 PBR World Finals at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Nov. 12-15.
The 2020 YETI World Champion Bull receives a $100,000 bonus, and the champion will be the animal with the highest average bull score from their top eight regular-season outs and two outs at the PBR World Finals.
The PBR has been using this format to crown its World Champion Bull since 2017, and the current separation between Smooth Operator and Chiseled is the closest in the last four seasons.
And the way the two stout athletes have been battling all season long, it appears as if the two frontrunners will be ready to up their game in the heart of Texas in two-and-a-half weeks.
“I have been back and forth on it,” Lambert told Janie Johnson. “Smooth Operator is the reigning World Champion and Chiseled is in the lead, and he just got named the PRCA Bull of the Year. (SweetPro’s) Bruiser is still around, and he is still doing well. He is almost as good as he has ever been. I think Canadian Mist still has an outside chance, and I’m Legit Too is still very much in the running.”
Top 6 active YETI World Champion Bull contenders
1. Chiseled (46.16)
2. Smooth Operator (46.13)
3. Hocus Pocus (45.66)
4. I’m Legit Too (45.56)
5. Smooth Over (45.47)
6. SweetPro’s Bruiser (44.97)
Lambert said Chiseled is very much following a similar path to stardom that Bruiser did early in his career.
“He is following in Bruiser’s footsteps,” Lambert said. “He does the same thing every time. He has a lot of timing, and he does exactly the same thing every time. The riders love him, but very few have been successful on him. It is like a football team telling you what play they are about to run and just executing so well that you can’t stop them.”
So far in the PBR’s current points system, the No. 1 bull at the end of the regular season has gone on to finish the job and win the world title at the World Finals three consecutive years.
Here is a look back at the last three bull races in the current points system.
2017: SweetPro’s Bruiser vs. Pearl Harbor
Three years ago, Bruiser (46.38) brought a 0.04-point lead on Pearl Harbor (46.34) into the first World Finals held at T-Mobile Arena.
Bruiser was outstanding in Las Vegas, first bucking off Emilio Resende in 1.91 seconds for a 47-point bull score. He then secured his second world title with a 46-point score after Ryan Dirteater nearly rode him (7.19 seconds).
Meanwhile, Pearl Harbor posted scores of 45.25 points (5.97-second buckoff of Lachlan Richardson) and 45.75 points (89.5-point ride by Dener Barbosa).
2018: SweetPro’s Bruiser vs. Smooth Operator
Bruiser (46.28) had over a one-point lead on Smooth Operator (45.13) heading into the 2018 World Finals, and that gave the legendary bull enough of a cushion to hold off his opponents.
Bruiser clinched the championship with a 45.75-point bull score on Championship Sunday when Jose Vitor Leme rode him for 93.5 points. Earlier in the week, Bruiser bucked off Francisco Garcia Torres in 3.35 seconds for 44.75 points.
Smooth Operator was actually the better bull at the Finals head to head as he put up scores of 45.5 points (6.2 seconds against Fabiano Vieira) and 46.5 points (7.74 seconds against Cooper Davis), but he could not make up enough ground in Las Vegas.
2019: Smooth Operator vs. Smooth Wreck
Smooth Operator (45.89) had a 0.15-point lead on No. 2 Smooth Wreck (45.69) last year as the 9-year-old capped off his march to the world title with relative ease. Smooth Operator set the tone at the World Finals with 46.25 points against Dylan Smith in Round 2 (6.99 seconds). The Chad Berger bucking bull then sealed Berger his first World Champion bull title under his sole control with a career-best 47 points against Chase Outlaw (4.11 seconds).
Smooth Wreck was respectable in Las Vegas, but not on the same level as his travel mate. Smooth Wreck posted a 45.5-point effort (3.2 seconds vs. Keyshawn Whitehorse) and 45.25 points (3.94 seconds against Cliff Richardson).
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
© 2020 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.