From day one, nine-time World Champion Ty Murray has said each and every bull counts when it comes to winning a world title.
With two-thirds of the season complete and the summer break coming to a close, there are only nine Built Ford Tough Series events remaining between now and the World Finals in late October.
"When it starts getting down to the nitty-gritty a little mistake here or there is pretty glaring," said Murray, in his weekly Podcast.
This week the top riders in the world will reconvene in Tulsa, Okla., for the Express Classic.
Valdiron de Oliveira leads the standings, while L.J. Jenkins only 632 points behind and Silvano Alves trailing by 788.25 points. Guilherme Marchi and J.B. Mauney round out the Top 5, but are 1,979.5 and 2,303.75 points back respectively.
"The pressure's on," Murray said.
"We're talking about a very diverse and very talented Top 5 and they all bring a little something different to the table and, I think, it's a great mix. Boy, I truly believe that any of the five can step up."
In this week's conversation, Murray examines each of the top contenders for this year's world title.
J.B. MAUNEY:"I believe in his approach. It's the same approach that I took throughout my career. You look at a guy like Justin McBride and it was the same approach that Justin McBride took. Adriano Moraes. I believe in that approach. For me, and the way my brain worked in competition, that was the approach that worked for me and, I think, that's the approach that works for J.B. Mauney. When I look at those Top 5 guys, to me, J.B. Mauney is the most dynamic. If he gets on a roll he's the most dangerous, in my opinion."
GUILHERME MARCHI:"The knocks I have against Guilherme is he really, really - no doubt about it - prefers bulls that spin to the right and I always say that, that makes you half a bull rider because you (have) to have the confidence and the ability to ride them either direction they go. I think between his age, the injuries that he's had and the fact of how much he prefers bulls that spin to the right, I think those are three knocks against him. At the same time, he's a very strong rider that's very competitive and doing a knock on him almost feels wrong because we've seen how good he can be."
SILVANO ALVES:"He's guy that there aren't really any surprises. When I was talking about J.B. and what he's going to be like when he comes back, you don't really wonder that with Silvano. You know what he's going to come back like. His approach is the exact opposite of J.B. Mauney. He just wants to ride every bull, he doesn't really care about the score, he doesn't even really care if he places and there is some substance to his approach. I just don't agree with that mindset. From when I competed that mindset did not work for me, but it works for him and that's all that matters."
L.J. JENKINS:"L.J.'s a very talented rider and we do see him, at times, get very hot and then we see him others times be very cold. Part of that, in my opinion, is that L.J. is a guy that doesn't ride with any strength or any holds with his feet. He's a very balanced rider and when that's firing on all cylinders he's very good, but when his timing is a little bit off he pays for it because he doesn't have the second chance that some guys give themselves with their spurs and their feet, so it's going to be interesting to see. Like I said, it's really fun to watch him ride when he's on top of his game because he does things so right from the waist up that it makes everything from the waist down irrelevant."
VALDIRON DE OLIVEIRA:"He's hard to bet against in my book. This is a guy who has kind of had that bridesmaid syndrome, but he's also a guy who has just kept getting better. To me, he used to be a very consistent rider that never stood out at all and he's gotten better about that. We're seeing him stand out better. We're seeing him understand better that it's a judged sport and you have to stand out. He's very hard to bet against and he's another guy that's pretty durable. We don't see him--even when he has injuries--we don't really see him affected and there's a reason he's No. 1."
Murray went to explain that he views Oliveira as a rider who is "tired of being second."
"You never quit learning in this sport," Murray said. "I always used to say when you ride you either win something or you learn something and (Oliveira) is a guy who keeps learning and keeps getting better. He's got a great attitude. When you see this guy it's very rare that you see him with a bad attitude."
However, as he also explained, "It's one thing to be chasing the No. 1. It's another thing to be No. 1 and you're the one setting the pace. The pressure just mounts every week from here on out and by the time that you get to the World Finals it's at an all-time high."
Murray described that pressure as the essence of all sports.
He explained that sports fans have seen it for the past week while watching the Summer Olympics. Elite athletes have trained for four years and the same holds true in the PBR, where riders have been competing all season.
It's the one who can remain focused for 10 months who comes out on top of the world standings with a gold buckle and a $1 million bonus.
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