PUEBLO, Colo. – “Is Ronda Rousey as tough as 2015 World Champion Bull Long John?”
That is the question posed by TIME Magazine columnist Joel Stein last week after TIME Magazine released its list of the Top 100 influential animals in the world.
Stein formed a board of directors of seven of the world’s top animal experts, including Animal Planet and Discovery Channel president Rich Ross and Buzzfeed Animals editor Chelsea Marshall, to name the Top 100 influential animals in the world.
Reigning PBR World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Long John came in at 50th on the list after his championship season pushed him to the forefront of a national television audience last year.
Long John was the fourth-highest ranked sports figure of the 11 named to the Top 100 list.
“That is pretty cool,” said two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney. “He is a great bull and it is good he is getting some recognition.”
Other notable animal athletes to have been named to the Top 100 include Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh (No. 9), California Journey (No. 18), the Best in Show in the Westminster Dog Show, and Chocolate (No. 35), the first U.S.-bred polo horse to be the best in the world.
Mauney is the only rider to have ridden Long John this season. The 29-year-old welcomed the bull back to the BFTS for his title defense by taking him to the 8-second mark for 90.25 points in Oklahoma City.
Long John has posted five consecutive buckoffs, including Mauney in 7.56 seconds in Albuquerque, New Mexico, since his season debut in January.
The D&H Cattle Company superstar was marked 46.75 points for his buckoff of Mauney and followed that stellar performance with a 46.5-point bull score for slamming Gage Gay in 4.35 seconds in Billings, Montana, two weeks ago.
“When you are out over him, nothing is strong,” Gay said. “I felt like I was out over him good. When he got my inside foot I just sat straight up to shove it back down and that is when he pulled me to the outside. He really bucked. 46.5 and you can’t ask one to be much ranker than that.
Gay was also bucked off by Long John in Anaheim, California, this past January.
“He rears so high and drops so hard that if you are on the end of your arm there is no chance,” Gay added. “He gives you all of the time to get back to him when he is hanging in the air.”
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said earlier this season, “He’s the reigning champion. The only way to ride Long John is to do everything perfect. If you do everything perfect, you’re either J.B. Mauney or J.W. Harris.”
Long John beat out 2015 PRCA Bucking Bull of the Year Crystal Deal for the honor from TIME.
It was at the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals where Long John erupted for a 47.25-point bull score while bucking off Fabiano Vieira in 7.41 seconds.
The career-best outing helped Long John rally past Jared Allen’s Air Time for the World Champion Bull title, and most likely the TIME Magazine honor.
“One could have made a case for Crystal Deal, the 2015 Bucking Bull of the Year, but runner-up Long John is the most fearsome bull in bull riding,” Stein wrote. “As of the Professional Bull Rider’s World Champion Bull, Long John had 21 total outs, 14 of which were on the Built Ford Tough Series, which is really tough. Yes, Crystal Deal bucked off all 10 of its riders, but Long John is 42-8 in three years on the pro circuit. And yeah, Crystal Deal averaged 45.6 points to Long John’s 44.5, but you have to remember that Long John had a couple of injuries this year. Tough call, and we understand if you argue with this one. That’s the fun of the Time 100 Animals.”
Long John has two of the Top-5 highest bull scores this season, while Air Time leads the pack with a 47-point showing against Joao Ricardo Vieira. SweetPro’s Bruiser also has two of the Top-5 bull scores with a 46.5-point and 46.25-point outing.
RELATED: Top bull scores of 2016
Mauney rode Long John for 92.25 points last September in Thackerville, Oklahoma, to regain the world No. 1 ranking and never let it go as he solidified his march toward a second gold buckle.
So what does he think about the whole Rousey vs. Long John debate?
“I don’t know,” Mauney nervously replied after laughing. “I am not getting in the mix of that.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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