BISMARCK, N.D. – Fabiano Vieira’s head hung low as the muscles in his neck pulsated and bulged.
The 34-year-old’s right hand was submerged in a cooler of ice and bottled water, while sweat and blood dripped into the container to create a murky, brownish color.
Vieira winced as his friend, Humberto, dabbed at a gash on his left hand, and Vieira fought off pleas from Humberto to let him look at Vieira’s right thumb.
The battle-tested Brazilian had just ridden Siouxper Stinger for 89 points during Round 1 of the Dakota Community Bank PBR Bull Riding Challenge Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event on Saturday night.
The qualified ride came with a cost, though.
Inside the bucking cutes, Siouxper Stinger had hooked Vieira’s right thumb with his horn, causing it to swell up and turn the nail black and blue as the thumb began to swell.
Vieira fared no better in the arena either – outside of his qualified ride. The Perola, Brazil, bull rider wound up taking an additional beating during his get off as Siouxper Stinger stepped on him and ripped off a portion of Vieira’s riding vest.
“The bull put a horn into my hand in the bucking chute,” Vieira said before grimacing. “He stepped on my back. The vest helped me. It is very, very good.”
Vieira then flashes his devilish grin and begins to laugh.
“That was a good bull, right?” he continues. “I had seen Jess (Lockwood) ride this bull last year for 93 points. I watched the video. He is a very, very good bull and a very good score.”
It was just another example of arguably one of the toughest bull riders in the PBR refusing to let pain hold him back.
There is tough and cowboy tough, but then there is Fabiano Vieira tough.
Vieira has been plagued by chronic shoulder injuries since 2014 and has continued to rise up whenever he gets hurt inside the arena even as he gets older and older.
The eight-year professional was unable to ride a reckless Fire & Smoke during the championship round Saturday night, but his 3-for-4 performance during the two Velocity Tour events in Bismarck has him right in the mix for the 2017 Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour championship and its $50,000 prize.
Vieira finished in second-place for 50 world points on Friday night by riding Element 79 for 86 points and Red Bandana for 88.5 points.
His third place finish Saturday netted him 30 points.
The 80 points he earned toward the world standings also count for the Velocity standings, which is a highly-contested race eight months into the season.
Vieira is ranked second in the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour standings and trails Velocity leader Derek Kolbaba by five points.
“That is nice,” a surprised Vieira said when told of his ranking. “I didn’t know that. I never watch or check (Velocity) standings.”
In fact, the Top 16 riders in the Velocity standings are separated by 100 points or less heading into the next Velocity Tour event on July 19 in Salinas, California.
Vieira’s 72.73-percent riding average in 10 Velocity Tour events is the best in the PBR. He is second to Alex Marcilio (17) on the tour with 16 qualified rides.
Outside of Kolbaba’s dominant performance in June, it is hard to find another rider with an as impressive June run like Vieira.
Vieira has been one of the top summer riders at non-Built Ford Tough Series events through the first month of the BFTS summer break by going 7-for-9.
His three Top-3 finishes have helped him rise to 18th in the world standings after ending Last Cowboy Standing ranked 21st.
Vieira began his summer run with a second-place finish at the PBR Canada International Major in Quebec City, where he rode Jammin Jackson’s Handsome Jeff for 90.5 points.
Vieira is debating making a doctor’s appointment this week to get his injured thumb analyzed.
He was originally supposed to ride at the Bleacher Bull Riders Inc. Touring Pro Division event in Binford, North Dakota, on Saturday night, but decided to draw out as a precaution.
There are still seven riders ranked inside the Top 35 of the world standings slated to compete: No. 4 Jess Lockwood, No. 6 Chase Outlaw, No. 11 Mason Lowe, No. 25 Mike Lee, No. 26 Gage Gay, No. 29 Koal Livingston and No. 34 Cody Rodeo Tyler.
The good news for Vieira is his shoulders haven’t been an issue for him this season and the thumb injury is on his non-riding hand.
“My shoulder has been healthy for a long time,” Vieira said. “I feel good. I am going to keep trying to ride good. God has helped me. I thank God for everything.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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