By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis is off to one of the best starts in his seven-year career, and the No. 2-ranked bull rider in the world does not plan on letting an injury to the thumb on his riding hand hold him out of competition.
Following the PBR Lucas Oil Invitational in Louisville, Kentucky, two weeks ago, Davis learned that he has a torn ligament in his thumb, as well as a little bone that is broken at the joint in his thumb. However, Davis said he doesn’t expect it to hold him back this weekend at the PBR First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard Invitational in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“I got a brace made and should be good to go,” Davis told PBR.com this week. “I wasn’t going to miss either way. If I mess it up worse than it is now, I may have my joint fused together right there. Most of my career, I’ve had thumb or hand issues.”
Davis heads into the Denny Sanford Premier Center ranked No. 2 in the world standings. He trails world leader Kaique Pacheco by 55 points. The 27-year-old is 15-for-25 (60%) with four 90-point rides this season and is on track to break his previous career-high of 42 qualified rides from his 2016 gold buckle season. Davis is 33-for-58 (56.89%) since missing the majority of the first half last season with a broken neck.
The 2015 World Finals event winner has drawn Secret Weapon (8-1, premier series) for Round 1 on Friday night (RidePass 8:45 p.m. ET).
Pacheco is the No. 1 rider in the world for the first time since the second week of the 2020 season. The 2018 World Champion will face Wooden Nickels (2-1, premier series) in Round 1.
WHO IS IN/OUT FOR SIOUX FALLS
Top 30 Riders Out Because of Injury or Other
No. 15 Taylor Toves (hip)
No. 16 Kyler Oliver (dislocated shoulder)
No. 21 Mason Taylor (broken collarbone)
No. 22 Dalton Kasel (right elbow surgery)
No. 26 Lucas Divino (left knee sprain)
No. 28 Jesse Petri (liver laceration, adrenal hematoma, bruised right lung)
No. 29 Brennon Eldred (rib fractures/partially collapsed lung)
No. 30 Brady Fielder (in Australia)
Alternates for this weekend (Riders in bold need a qualified ride in Round 1 or 2 to advance to Championship Sunday)
No. 32 Claudio Montanha Jr.
No. 33 Kyle Jones
No. 34 Luciano de Castro
No. 35 Eli Vastbinder
No. 36 Rodrigo Melgar
No. 37 Marcelo Procopio Pereira
No. 39 Marcus Mast
No. 42 Thiago Salgado
No. 43 Chase Dougherty
No. 45 Dakota Louis
No. 47 Wallace de Oliveira
No. 48 Cody Jesus
As part of the 2021 UTB event structure, any rider who is not seeded based on Unleash The Beast tour event standards (Top 30 available plus any Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour invites or injury exempt riders) will need to earn a qualified ride in Round 1 or Round 2 to advance to compete in Round 3.
Riders competing via exemption
No. 46 Chase Outlaw (5 event exemptions remaining after Sioux Falls)
No. 49 Matt Triplett (4 event exemptions remaining)
No. 51 Andrew Alvidrez (2 event exemptions remaining)
No. 58 Ramon de Lima (3 event exemptions remaining)
Before heading to Sioux Falls, Chase Outlaw stopped in Pueblo, Colorado, to train at the PBR Sport Performance Center alongside PBR SPC Executive Director Antwon Burton.
Outlaw is 1-for-4 since returning to competition from left shoulder surgery last August. He is also riding with a torn right ACL.
The Hamburg, Arkansas, native has drawn American Gangster (20-5, premier series) for Round 1.
Shane Proctor to make first UTB appearance since announcing retirement three years ago
Nine-time PBR World Finals qualifier Shane Proctor will be making his season debut on the Unleash The Beast, and his first since initially retiring from the PBR in 2018 following the Monster Energy Buck Off at The Garden in New York to focus on his rodeo career. Proctor is in the draw courtesy of his Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour victory on March 21 in Pensacola, Florida.
Proctor has drawn The Good Stuff (4-0, premier series) for Round 1.
Cody Nance will also be competing in Sioux Falls as the No. 1-ranked rider from the Velocity Tour. Nance, the No. 31-ranked rider in the world standings, takes on Ground Assault (6-2, premier series) on Friday night at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
Round 1 Rematches
Friday night features six rematches, all of which previously went in favor of the bull.
Claudio Montanha Jr. vs. Strange Cargo (6.91 seconds at 2020 Global Cup USA)
Dener Barbosa vs. Lil 2 Train (2.95 seconds at 2018 World Finals)
Derek Kolbaba vs. Party Animal (2.91 seconds at 2020 WCRA Stampede at the E)
Eli Vastbinder vs. Zorro (5.20 seconds last season in Des Moines, Iowa)
Marcus Mast vs. Mama’s Bad Pet (4.02 seconds two years ago in Des Moines, Iowa)
Rafael Henrique dos Santos vs. Outlaw (3.03 seconds last year in Billings, Montana)
2021 YETI World Champion Bull race contenders
Three bulls tied for the No. 3 ranking in the YETI World Champion Bull race are slated to buck on Sunday afternoon: two-time YETI World Champion Smooth Operator, Marquis Metal Works Coriolis Effect and Smooth Wreck.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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