DULUTH, Ga. – We’re roughly a third of the way through the 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast season already, and four guys have what you might call world title numbers. The standings are unreliable early in the season, but the PBR World Champion tends to be on the plus side of 50 percent overall riding percentage at the end of the year, and he cannot get blanked against the top tier bulls.
The guys who have those numbers right now are Dener Barbosa – by a mile – (70.4 percent / 100 percent), Ramon de Lima (56 percent / 50 percent), Luciano de Castro (58.3 percent / 100 percent), and Cody Teel (53.3 percent / 25 percent).
Everyone else is either below 50 percent overall or at 0 percent against the top bulls. Under 50 percent overall has worked just once – Jess Lockwood last year – but 0 percent against the top bulls has never worked.
The best season numbers ever belong to Guilherme Marchi, who was 73 percent / 73 percent in 2008. The lowest came last year with Lockwood at 44 percent / 40 percent, and the only way to win the title with numbers that low is to make sure those wins come at the best possible times, which Lockwood pretty much did.
Claudio Montanha on 018 Crosshairs:
Montanha was 84.75 points on this bull in Raleigh, North Carolina, last fall, and that makes him a great draw here. He may not win the round on this bull, but Montanha has steadily been riding the bulls he’s supposed to ride this season up until the last few events where he’s gone dry. He should get back on track with this bull.
Jess Lockwood on 200 Cyclone:
Derek Kolbaba was 87.5 points on Cyclone in St. Louis, and it was the only time this bull has been ridden in six career outs. Cyclone was intense with Kolbaba, but he stayed close to the ground and hooked into a spin to the left. If that’s what he brings here, Lockwood will dominate him.
Juan Carlos Contreras on Z50 Bugle Boy:
Contreras has been to five UTB events this year and has two qualified rides to show for it, but one of them was for a round win. Riders typically need some time to adjust to the bulls at this level, and that will come into play here. Bugle Boy has been ridden a few times, but he’s a little rank and scary compared to the average Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour / Touring Pro Division bull. Bugle Boy slings his head around, has some delayed jumps and, in general, does everything he can to yank the rider straight over his head. This is a gut-check kind of bull that you can’t ride using the textbook. Contreras will have to grit it out one jump at a time.
Luciano de Castro on 1017 Dream Catcher:
Last week’s big winner should get off to a good start here. Dream Catcher is 2-3 against left-handed riders, and Castro’s numbers look like he will be a contender for the World Championship this year.
Ryan Dirteater on 36Z Rebel Yell II:
A couple of years ago, Paulo Lima won the championship round here on this bull. Dirteater should get along with him. The big variable is that Rebel Yell has been hit or miss at times. If he has his best day here, Dirteater could win the round easily, or this could be a re-ride if he has his worst day. Because the bulls in the re-ride pen are better than most of the bulls in the first round, it’s good news for Dirteater either way.
Dener Barbosa on 039 Clemon Time:
We don’t know much about this bull, but the way Barbosa has been riding we do know he’s probably going to stay on. Over the past five events, Barbosa has backed down to around 55 percent riding average. That’s a serious slump in terms of the way he started the season, but he will be in the hunt for the title if he finishes the season at 55 percent.
Mason Lowe on 83A Wild Goose:
This would be one of the top matchups in the round if Lowe were left-handed. Wild Goose has yet to give up a qualified ride to a righty, but he’s been ridden in his last three outs at this level for good scores, including a 90-point effort by Stetson Lawrence in Anaheim. This bull can throw his weight around and move forward some, but Lowe has a decent chance here. Right-handed Joe Frost has taken this bull past the 7-second mark twice in the last few months at rodeos.
Jose Vitor Leme on 20/A Big Slick:
Ramon de Lima was 86.75 points on this bull in Sacramento, California, and he went to the left there. Leme definitely has a good chance at getting a score here. After the Finals, it was easy to project Leme as a contender this year, but his numbers are just below where they need to be.
Cody Teel on 147 Shattered Dreams:
We don’t see this bull all that often, but he’s been ridden the last three times he’s faced a rider of Teel’s caliber. Ryan Dirteater has ridden him twice, and Luciano de Castro rode him last week in Little Rock. If you are looking for a dark horse to win the title this year, Teel is your guy. He’s down in the standings, but if he holds his current stats through the end of the season he will be in the hunt.
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