By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Cooper Davis is used to being the hunter.
Never before in his seven-year career has Davis entered the PBR World Finals sitting atop the world standings. In fact, Davis began his 2016 championship season second in the world standings when he stepped foot inside T-Mobile Arena for Round 1 of the 2016 PBR World Finals.
Davis, the current No. 3 ranked bull rider in the world, is right in the thick of the 2021 World Championship race following his second consecutive Unleash The Beast victory last weekend at the Bad Boy Mowers Invitational, presented by Union Home Mortgage, in Jacksonville, Florida. Davis may not be on top of the world standings just yet, but there is still plenty of time for Davis to assert himself as the alpha dog in this year’s world title race and return to the world No. 1 ranking, which he held for five consecutive events earlier this season.
The 27-year-old, however, has always kept his mind away from positioning when it comes to the PBR World Finals, which are set to return to Las Vegas this year on Nov. 3-7. The goal has always remained the same – give yourself a fighter’s chance and make sure you handle your business at the World Finals.
It is just one reason why Davis opted to follow the guidance of Dr. Tandy Freeman and the PBR Sports Medicine Team after his victory at the PBR Union Home Mortgage Invitational in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 2. Davis had felt a pop in his left thigh, and he was happy to later learn an MRI revealed no major injuries. Regardless, Davis opted to remain cautious and not rush back to competition in Billings, Montana, for a three-day, five-bull event.
Being careful with his body is not a sign that Davis is willing to take his foot off the gas pedal either. It is rather him making sure the engine has plenty of fuel left to finish the race in front.
“As long as I have that mentality that I have to be chasing and I got to play catch up then that is good for me because it is easy to get complacent when you are at the top,” Davis told PBR.com on Tuesday. “But if you are sitting there chasing someone it really kind of fuels your fire to get up there and catch them.
You just have to stay aggressive and capitalize when you can. But you also can’t go and make stupid decisions if you are not feeling 100% or you might injure yourself further. It is kind of cat and mouse on what the right decision is or if I am being to laxed right now. The whole thing is keeping your foot on the gas and keeping yourself in the race.”
Davis put himself right back on the doorstep of the world No. 1 ranking in Jacksonville by riding Mike’s Motive for 91.75 points in the championship round to set himself up for his second event win of this season. The ride was Davis’ sixth 90-point ride of 2021, tying a career-high. Davis also posted six 90s on the premier series in 2019 and 2017.
The 20 days off following his victory in Omaha was good for his thigh.
“It feels really good,” Davis said. “I think Tandy was right on taking a week off because there is no telling if I went to Billings and got on five if I would have rode as good as I did this weekend or whatever. I think it was the right move for the year.”
Davis has ridden seven consecutive bulls for an average score of 87.57 points in his back-to-back victories. It is only the second time in Davis’ career in which he has won back-to-back events.
In 2016, Davis won the Music City Knockout in Nashville – a PBR Major – and Tulsa, Oklahoma, as he made his gold buckle push up the world standings.
“It has been a long time,” Davis said. “I guess it is hard to do, but I guess whenever you are not thinking about the whole scheme of things and having to go in there and win and all that stuff, it is just bull riding. So two weekends lined up just right. It felt good, and I didn’t really put too much pressure on myself. I didn’t think about it honestly.”
The Finals is going to tell everything. With so many points and Jose and Kaique are going to ride good all year. It is really just making sure you have a shot when you get to the Finals.”
The Top 3 bull riders in the world – Kaique Pacheco, Jose Vitor Leme and Cooper Davis – are separated by 180.5 points heading into the upcoming two-week, Unleash The Beast break. The UTB resumes on June 11-12 with the PBR Las Vegas Invitational at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“We are all human and we are all going to make mistakes at some point this season,” Davis concluded. “It is going to come down to the Finals, and as long as we all have a shot, it is anybody’s buckle.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo by Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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