Mauney’s Next World Champion Bull to Conquer? Smooth Operator

By: Justin Felisko

PUEBLO, Colo. – Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney used to be able to claim that he had ridden every World Champion Bull since 2007 – a remarkable feat to say the least.

And, no, video evidence did not take away any of Mauney’s 14 qualified rides on seven bulls with a combined total of 12 World Championships away from him in the past 11 years. Instead, a new bull added his name to the PBR record books last year as Mauney was struggling to ride with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

Smooth Operator.

The 2019 YETI World Champion is the current No. 1 bull in the world thanks to a 46.75-point bull score last weekend in Bismarck, North Dakota, and he has bucked off 17 consecutive bull riders in a row.

Make no mistake about it: the dragon slayer would like a chance to crack Smooth Operator at some point in the future.

“Well, I rode every one since before him so I might as well ride him and add him to the list,” Mauney said prior to making his season debut at the 20th annual Dakota Community Bank & Trust Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires.

Mauney went 0-for-2 in Bismarck, and he will look for the first ride of his 2020 season since undergoing offseason reconstructive shoulder surgery when the PBR continues its season Friday night at the PBR Bullnanza event at the Lazy E Arena.

Smooth Operator is not competing in Guthrie, Oklahoma, this weekend.

Fans can watch Round 1 exclusively on RidePass beginning at 8:45 p.m. ET.

The 14-time World Finals qualifier has essentially conquered every champ possible when it comes to battling it out against the rankest bovines in the world. The PBR is currently celebrating its bovine beasts with PBR Bull Week.

And who exactly are the World Champion Bulls since 2007 who Mauney has successful ridden a combined 14 times?

2007 World Champion Chicken on a Chain (4), 2008/2010 World Champion Bones (1), 2009 World Champion Code Blue (2), 2011/2013/2014 World Champion Bushwacker (1), 2012 World Champion Asteroid (1), 2015 World Champion SweetPro’s Long John (2) and 2016/2017/2018 World Champion SweetPro’s Bruiser (3).

All but one of those 14 rides came on the PBR’s premier series since Mauney began slaying the dragons of the PBR in the 2009 season.

Mauney rode Chicken on a Chain for 91.5 points at a 2011 Touring Pro Division event in Asheville, North Carolina.

He has a 37.84% riding percentage against World Champion Bulls at all levels of competition (14-for-37). In comparison, only 13 riders this season with more than 15 attempts on the Unleash The Beast have a 38% or higher riding percentage against ANY bull on the premier series.

“I like getting on the rank bulls,” Mauney said in 2016 about his record against World Champion Bulls. “I like proving to myself I can ride them. It has nothing to do with anybody else. It has to do with what is inside me. It is something in my heart.”

Smooth Operator is 79-7 on the premier series, and 102-7 overall. Only five riders have successfully ridden Smooth Operator – 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi (83.5 points & 89.5 points), Mason Lowe (90.75 points), 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis (93.75 points), current world No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme (92.5 points) and 2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel (89.5 points & 91.75 points).

Teel was the last rider to record a score on Smooth Operator, picking up his 91.75-point ride at the 2019 Last Cowboy Standing event at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Coincidently, Mauney has never even climbed aboard Smooth Operator so far in the bull’s seven-year career.

“It was one of those deals where every time he was in the draft, so was Bruiser, and stuff like that,” Mauney said. “Not taking away from Smooth Operator, but, at the time, you would be more points on Bruiser than him. I went with stuff like that.”

Here is how Mauney breaks down against each of the World Champion Bulls he has covered at all levels of competition.

Mauney vs. Chicken on a Chain (4-for-7)

Mauney won his second of three event titles inside Madison Square Garden in 2009 when he rode Chicken on Chain for 90 points. It was the first of four successful rides for Mauney vs. the bull who grew up just south of him in South Carolina. After beginning his career 1-for-4 against Chicken on a Chain, Mauney would successfully ride him three straight times – 90 points at the 2011 Iron Cowboy, 91.5 points at the 2011 Touring Pro Division event and then 86 points at the 2011 PBR World Finals.

Mauney vs. Bones (1-for-2)

A young and fired-up Mauney had felt he deserved a shot at 2008 World Champion Bones after owner Tom Teague offered 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi the chance to square off against Bones for $20,000 at the 2009 premier series event Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Marchi only lasted 3.79 seconds, and Mauney opened his mouth wanting a shot. Teague allowed Mauney to take on Bones two weeks later in Oklahoma City, and Mauney backed up his words by riding the superstar for 93.5 points. It was one of Mauney’s first dragon-slaying moments, as the then 22-year-old became the first rider to ride Bones in 14 premier series outs.

Bones would get revenge a year later at the 2010 PBR World Finals when he bucked Mauney off in four seconds in Round 2.

Mauney vs. Code Blue (2-for-3)

Code Blue is the only World Champion Bull on which Mauney did not surpass the 90-point mark. Mauney first hung on for 76.25 points at the 2010 New York City Invitational, and he would later ride Code Blue seven months later in Memphis, Tennessee, for 89.5 points.

Mauney vs. Bushwacker (1-for-13)

Arguably the most popular rivalry in PBR history was highly in favor of three-time World Champion Bushwacker. Yet, that is what made the rivalry between Mauney and Bushwacker so memorable.

Mauney was the beaten and battered boxer who refused to throw in the towel each and every time Bushwacker embarrassed him or tossed him to the dirt with ease. Finally, after eight unsuccessful attempts, Mauney made history in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on August 17, 2013.

Mauney ended Bushwacker’s record buckoff streak of 42 in a row by riding the legendary bovine for a career-best 95.25 points. The ride not only was historic in that sense, but it also spearheaded Mauney on his memorable second-half run as he overcame a 3,056-point deficit in the old points system to unseat Silvano Alves and win his first World Championship.

Bushwacker would never be ridden again. Julio Moreno’s superstar ended his career with 20 consecutive buckoffs on the premier series and 24 overall. Mauney would come up short of the 8-second mark four times against Bushwacker following his memorable ride inside the BOK Center.

Mauney vs. Asteroid (1-for-7)

Asteroid was in the middle of his World Championship run – and his own rivalry with Bushwacker – when Mauney ended the bull’s streak of 16 consecutive buckoffs with a sensational 93.5-point effort in San Antonio.

At the time, it was only the duo’s second meeting. However, Mauney never found success again, and Asteroid would win their final five matchups.

Mauney will always hold his ride on Bushwacker at the top of his list of best rides, but he has always held a special place in his heart for Asteroid. Not only does he have a framed photo of his ride aboard Asteroid, but he also was able to let his son, Jagger, sit on Asteroid for a photo at Chad Berger’s ranch prior to the bull passing away last summer.

Mauney vs. SweetPro’s Long John (2-for-2)

Mauney was well on his way to a second world title in 2015 when he rode SweetPro’s Long John for 92.25 points at the always hot and humid outdoor event in Thackerville, Oklahoma, on September 5, 2015. The ride propelled Mauney to a second-place finish, and he would take over the world No. 1 ranking with the ride.

Mauney would never let go of the top spot in the world standings for the final month and a half of the season following his ride on Long John. Meanwhile, Long John would also go on to win the 2015 World Championship.

The North Carolina cowboy would cover Long John for 90.25 points in their only other meeting four months later in Oklahoma City.

Mauney vs. SweetPro’s Bruiser (3-for-3)

Bruiser was far from kind to Mauney during their first two meetings.

Mauney first rode Bruiser for 93.25 points during Round 4 of the 2014 PBR World Finals, but the ride also came with a broken jaw when the two collided heads at the 8-second mark. The broken jaw did not stop Mauney from riding his last two bulls to finish the Finals 5-for-6 and second to World Finals event winner and World Champion Silvano Alves.

They would meet again at the World Finals the next season. Minutes after Mauney clinched his second world title, he would ride Bruiser for 92.75 points. This time, Mauney injured his collarbone and had to withdraw from the final day of the 2015 World Finals.

Mauney’s record-tying 32nd career win came three years ago in Billings, Montana, when he rode Bruiser for 94.25 points, which is the second-best ride of his career.

Bruiser is the only other active World Champion Bull bucking in the PBR, and he will be in the championship round on Saturday afternoon at the Lazy E Arena.

Maybe Mauney will treat fans with another Bruiser moment?

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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