Aparecido has learned the importance of being in the driver’s seat

Eduardo Aparecido leads No. 2 Kaique Pacheco by 365 points in the world standings. Photo: Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com

Highlights

  • Eduardo Aparecido has always been in the vicinity of a world title chance, but never in the thick of it until now.
  • After holding the world standings lead for most of this season, he has been relying on the lessons from his first four seasons to keep him going.
  • Aparecido knows the value of being in the lead, and after already surrendering the lead once, he knows he must hold on as much as he can.

In This Article

PUEBLO, Colo. – Eduardo Aparecido has been close to being a world title contender over the course of his five-year career many times.

Still, the current world No. 1 bull rider has never been considered a strong and bonafide World Champion contender like he has this year.

That, of course, comes with winning a PBR-high four events, including a PBR Major (Iron Cowboy), and leading the PBR with 38 qualified rides through the league’s first 23 BFTS events.

Aparecido, though, said he is pulling on lessons learned over his first four seasons in the PBR as he tries to finish out the 2017 regular season strong and leave the 2017 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 5 as the PBR World Champion.

In three of his previous four seasons, Aparecido has been ranked inside the Top 10 of the world standings with three BFTS regular-season events remaining.

Aparecido was sitting sixth in the world standing and 1,771.17 points behind world leader Kaique Pacheco at this point last year, while he was fifth in 2013 and eighth in 2014 during a prior points system.

Despite being in strong position, Aparecido could never seem to elevate his game enough to finish the year inside the Top 5, let alone as a World Champion.

“I learned about every bull I get on I need to be aggressive,” Aparecido said with the help of Guilherme Marchi translating two weeks ago. “I can’t worry about anybody. I need to be focused every day. I am pushing myself every day to stay strong and healthy. I am only thinking about bull riding and each bull I get on.”

Aparecido heads into this weekend’s DeWalt Guaranteed Tough Invitational, presented by Ariat, 365 points ahead of No. 2 Pacheco following a second consecutive third-place finish last weekend in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The Gouvelandia, Brazil, bull rider, who had previously sat atop the world standings for six months, usurped Pacheco for the No. 1 ranking two weeks ago after losing the top spot to Pacheco during August’s Music City Knockout.

Now back on top of the field, Aparecido has no intentions of surrendering his lead as the vultures behind him – Pacheco, Derek Kolbaba, Jess Lockwood, Cooper Davis and Chase Outlaw – continue to circle.

“I prefer being in the position I am now,” Aparecido said via Miriaham Garcia in Colorado Springs. “It is easier being in first place. When I was here in 2013, I had pretty good rides and a good percentage, however I still felt I had to chase somebody.

“I am more comfortable in first place.”

Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray agreed with other insiders and said in Uniondale, New York, that you could tell there is a different mentality and confidence in Aparecido.

“To me it feels like this is the first year, and I don’t know if I am right or not, that he believes he ought to be a World Champion,” Murray said. “Before it was just some of us guys believing it. The first thing that has to happen, it doesn’t matter if you are a boxer, a runner or whatever, you have to believe it first. If you don’t believe it, you will not even get the opportunity. It seems like he is at that point where he is thinking I can be that guy. I can be that guy in that position.”

Aparecido will first take on Money (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1 in Nampa before a tall task against Fire & Smoke in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Two-time World Champion Justin McBride will be handling the color commentating on CBS alongside lead broadcaster Craig Hummer this weekend and said that Aparecido is shaping up to be tough to beat.

“Eduardo is doing what he has to do,” McBride said. “He is saying, ‘Come get me if you can.’ If he can keep up his consistency, it is going to be tough to beat him. You are going to have to have a J.B. Mauney-like  streak, kind of what Kolbaba is shaping up to have, to be able to beat somebody like Eduardo. He is too consistent and to solid of a rider.”

Aparecido is the only rider converting over 50 percent of his bulls this year on the BFTS – 52.05 percent (38-for-73) – and every World Champion since 2000 has ridden 52 percent or higher.

Even though he has never finished inside the Top 5 of the world standings, Aparecido has actually been extremely consistent throughout his career with a 47.64 percent riding average according to ProBullstats.com. That career riding percentage is higher than Kolbaba (29.19 percent), Lockwood (45.05) and Davis (44.8 percent).

For now, Aparecido is going to keep on smiling as drives the pace car all the way to the bank.

“I enjoy (the title race) a bunch,” Aparecido said. “I am trying to stay competing at the top. I don’t feel pressure because I have been first, second. Any position is the same. I am just trying to ride bulls. I don’t care.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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