PUEBLO, Colo. – There were two men on the back of the bucking chutes Saturday night in AT&T Stadium about ready to jump onto the dirt and mob 2017 Iron Cowboy Eduardo Aparecido as the 26-year-old was finishing up his event-winning 89-point ride on Catfish John.
Three-time World Champion Silvano Alves had his left leg hanging over the chute in anticipation, while 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi was right next to Alves as the duo tossed their cowboy hats into the arena in praise of Aparecido.
Iron Cowboy was a huge statement victory by the fifth-year pro.
Aparecido didn’t just take over the world No. 1 ranking, but winning the second PBR Major of the season in front of a raucous 38,000 fans truly proved that not only does he have the physical talent to win a world title, but now he has the mental poise necessary to make a push at joining Alves and Marchi in the record books.
“Yes,” Alves confidently replied when asked if Aparecido was ready to make his own run at the world title. “There is a very good chance. He was close last year, but this year he has a really, really good chance. This is a big event with rank bulls. If you can ride several bulls here, you have more confidence for all of the events.”
Marchi agreed with Alves.
It was only four weeks earlier when Marchi claimed Aparecido to be a dangerous world title contender following Aparecido’s 15/15 Bucking Battle victory in Sacramento, California.
“This builds his confidence,” Marchi reiterated. “He won the last event and this guy is very hot. He is believing in himself. Either way, he rides good. Away from his hand, into his hand. This guy is very strong mentally. This guy is going to be a contender for a World Champion this year.”
Aparecido is evolving in front of everyone’s eyes and his confidence was on full display during his first 4-for-4 performance at the BFTS level.
“I know some people have said no good things about me, but I have shown I have the potential to be a World Champion and win big events,” Aparecido said with the help of Marchi translating. “To win a big event against the greatest bulls, I am so grateful right now. I am the Iron Cowboy.”
Aparecido averaged 52 rides per season in Brazil from 2011-12, and he has come a long way mentally from the rider that nearly packed up his things and went back to his ranch in Inaciolandia, Brazil, following an impressive 2013 season in which he finished second to Joao Ricardo Vieira in the Rookie of the Year Race.
In 2013, Aparecido, who owns milk cows with his father in Brazil, finished seventh in the world standings, but was homesick and missed his wife, Kelly, and daughters, Maria Eduardo and Maria Luiza.
He wasn’t happy in the United States and seriously contemplated returning to Brazil for good.
However, he didn’t want to give up on his dream of being a World Champion and providing a better opportunity for his family in the long run.
Aparecido has since become more comfortable in North America, especially since his family moved to Decatur, Texas, last season, and his riding is benefiting from it.
“He is here to make his dream come true,” Marchi said. “He is one of those guys that is very calm all of the time. He is very talented.”
Alves added, “Sometimes he was nervous a couple of years ago. He is a young guy and getting better and better every year. Right now, he has more concentration and his focus is on riding bulls. He is getting older. He is more experienced in the United States. He is no longer nervous.”
Aparecido leads No. 2 Jess Lockwood, who will miss possibly four weeks because of a torn groin, by 337.5 points in the world standings. His 16 qualified rides is tops in the PBR, as is his 64 percent riding average (16-for-25).
He began Iron Cowboy with 85 points on Oscar P before riding Jack Shot for 90.5 points in Round 2.
Aparecido has randomly drawn Jack Shot in three of the past four weeks. He rode Jack Shot for 90.25 points to win the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
He then rode Big Black Cat for 88.75 points in Round 3 and his Catfish John ride sealed him the victory.
In four weeks, Aparecido has won a 15/15 Bucking Battler, regular-formatted event and a PBR Major.
That kind of momentum is not just a hot streak, it truly is a statement.
“Now you are talking big time World Championship focus because he is winning a Major,” nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said. “He has all the momentum. He has all of the talent.”
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert agreed, but added that we haven’t seen Aparecido’s best just yet.
“I have always been high on him,” Lambert said. “I always thought he was pretty good. I always thought he was on the verge of being really good. I still think so. I still don’t think he is as good as he is going to get.”
Aparecido has never been ranked No. 1 in the world standings until now.
“Since the beginning, I have been focused on this year,” Aparecido said. “I don’t think about the world title. Now, I just think about riding my bulls and making my job and making some points every event.
“This is a big event. It is good for the money. For the title. It is a big event in the United States. I am very happy to cover my bulls at this event.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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