PUEBLO, Colo. – 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis and TLW’s Big Cat both spent the summer getting lighter.
Now the two World Champion contenders are set to clash as one of the marque matchups in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the Express Employment Professionals Classic, presented by Osage Casino, 15/15 Bucking Battle Saturday night.
Davis – the No. 10 rider in the world standings – is trying to use a second-half run to come from behind and repeat as World Champion, whereas Big Cat, currently No. 3 in the World Champion Bull race, is in need of a massive second-half performance to try and catch up to World Champion Bull frontrunners Pearl Harbor and SweetPro’s Bruiser.
Both athletes could use a big performance to jump start their stretch runs to the PBR’s 2017 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
“The treacherous Big Cat,” Davis joked when informed of his matchup Monday afternoon. “I am just going to take it like every other bull. You have to treat him like the rest of them. Try not to overthink it. The more I think, the worst I do. I am probably not going to think about it until I get there.”
Davis will be the latest top rider to try his hand against Big Cat (25-1, BFTS). The 23-year-old is going to be the sixth rider in seven Big Cat outs that has been ranked inside the Top 10 of the world standings.
Kaique Pacheco (4.81 seconds), J.B. Mauney (2.96 seconds), Stormy Wing (3.09 seconds), Matt Triplett (1.71 seconds) and Chase Outlaw (1.88 seconds) all failed to reach the 8-second mark against Big Cat.
In fact, Luis Blanco (85.5 points at the 2016 World Finals) is the only rider in Big Cat’s three-year career to ever conquer the bovine athlete.
Therefore, what does the reigning World Champion rider expect?
“I have watched him quite a bit,” Davis said. “It looks like he has a little bit of bounce to him. That first jump or two, you don’t know if he is going right or left, and he can really set you up. I don’t see a whole lot of guys get around the corner, but when they do he looks a hell of a lot better from that part on.
“I think the first two or three jumps on him are going to be the deciding factor.”
It will be the first meeting between the two.
Mack was diagnosed with transient erythroblastopenia of childhood (TEC) and recently had a follow-up appointment last week.
“It was good,” Davis said. “They said if there was such a thing as perfect results, then he got them. That was a relief right there. Kaitlyn and I had been worried about him. Just being parents, you start filling your heads with things and it is good to get a peace of mind after six months or so.”
Big Cat had lost some weight this summer after being out on cows, but the 6-year-old has packed the weight back on and could make another statement with a buckoff against the reigning champion.
In regards to Davis, he too has lost some weight this summer.
After bulking up with an additional 10 pounds of muscle in the spring, Davis has shifted his workout regimens so that he can drop back down to 145 pounds.
Davis has lost 10 pounds during the summer break to get back to his preferred riding weight of 145 pounds. The third-year pro had packed on 10 pounds of muscle during the spring, but he decided after Last Cowboy Standing to get back to a closer weight that helped him win the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals as a rookie and then the world title last year.
Davis was 138 pounds at the conclusion of 2016 and weighed 144 pounds when he won the 2015 Finals.
“I think I lost 10 pounds since Last Cowboy Standing,” Davis said. “I probably lost a little bit of muscle. I think riding bulls, 145 is where I need to be. I shouldn’t have tried to fluctuate it so much.”
Davis explained he was only trying to better himself in the spring, but the time off at home during the BFTS summer break helped him do some reflecting and analyze where he wanted to be at for the upcoming stretch run.
The Jasper, Texas, native is 1,431.67 points behind world leader Eduardo Aparecido.
Davis is coming off a second-place finish at the Silvano Alves Challenge Benefitting Boots for Troops and a fourth-place finish at the Big Sky, Montana, Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event.
Aparecido has drawn Mystikal (10-1, BFTS) for the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Fans can watch the 15/15 Bucking Battle exclusively on CBS national television Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
“I am always going to try and better myself, so getting too comfortable where you’re at is where a lot of people mess up,” Davis said. “I don’t ever want to be comfortable with being a certain thing. I want to keep trying to better myself.”
15/15 Bucking Battle Matchups
Claudio Montanha Jr. vs. Sosa’s Alley Cat (4-1, BFTS)
Cody Nance vs. Gangster’s Wildside (12-0, BFTS)*
Shane Proctor vs. What’s Under Your Hood (8-1, BFTS)
Cody Teel vs. Big City (0-0, BFTS)
Rubens Barbosa vs. Gambini (7-0, BFTS)*
Mason Lowe vs. Losing My Religion (13-1, BFTS)
Cooper Davis vs. TLW’s Big Cat (25-1, BFTS)
Joao Ricardo Vieira vs. Brutus (16-7, BFTS)*
Stormy Wing vs. Wired Child (20-4, BFTS)
Matt Triplett vs. Cochise (24-4, BFTS)
Chase Outlaw vs. Cut The Cord (15-1, BFTS)*
Jess Lockwood vs. Seven Dust (27-1, BFTS)
Derek Kolbaba vs. Rodeo Time (18-1, BFTS)
Kaique Pacheco vs. Lester Gillis (19-1, BFTS)*
Eduardo Aparecido vs. Mystikal (10-1, BFTS)
Pacheco is the only rider with a rematch that previously covered his bull. The No. 2 man in the world standings rode Lester Gillis for 88.75 points in St. Louis.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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