PUEBLO, Colo. – There was still blood on Fabiano Vieira’s left cheek as he sat alone in a folding chair inside the locker room of Bridgestone Arena on Saturday evening in Nashville, Tennessee.
Vieira was battered and beaten after getting on six bulls in less than 24 hours.
His last bull – Biker Bob – gashed open Vieira’s left cheek with his horn, while his second-to-last bull – Seven Dust – nearly dislocated Vieira’s shoulder from his socket.
Yet there was Vieira.
The grizzled veteran with a five o’clock shadow, blood all over his face and a cold, dripping wet ice bag taped around his left shoulder.
The 35-year-old put his body on the line this weekend in Nashville, but it wasn’t just because he wanted to earn the $116,300 payday or the massive 905 points toward the world standings.
This weekend was more so about making sure he would be able to qualify for the inaugural PBR Global Cup event on Nov. 9-11 in Edmonton, Alberta.
“Yeah, I knew I had to try my best,” Vieira said. “I was No. 5 (Brazilian in the world standings). I had never rode in the World Cup. Here in America, I almost came to ride in 2010 (World Cup), but I hurt my groin and I didn’t come. Other people came. I was hurt and I didn’t come.”
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It is why Vieira let out a thankful, “Thank you God,” when he was informed that his 88.5-point ride on Red Sails In The Sunset not only won him Bracket A of the tournament-style event Saturday night, but also clinched him a berth for the Global Cup.
Vieira understands the PBR Global Cup in Edmonton could possibly be one of his last opportunities to represent his native country in an international bull riding competition.
He had hoped to compete at the 2010 World Cup, which was the last time the PBR pitted countries against each other in a team format, in Las Vegas. The then rookie had been named to the initial team with fellow rookie Silvano Alves, however a groin injury hindered Vieira and he appeared to struggle at the BFTS-level. Therefore, Team Captain Adriano Moraes eventually named future World Champion Renato Nunes to the team after at first leaving Nunes off the roster.
Team Brazil dominated that year at the World Cup, earning their second victory during the tournament’s four-year run.
Vieira is ecstatic to now have a chance to lead Team Brazil later this year.
“This is my dream now,” Vieira said. “I want to win the Global Cup for Brazil. I am ready. God has helped me for this competition, and I will ride for Brazil.”
The six-time PBR World Finalist will be the most-seasoned rider on Team Brazil as he joins current world leader Kaique Pacheco, 2017 breakout star Eduardo Aparecido, 2013 Rookie of the Year Joao Ricardo Vieira and 2011 Rookie of the Year Rubens Barbosa.
Two-time World Champion and Team USA head coach Justin McBride expects Vieira to be a force in Edmonton as long as the Perola, Brazil, native can stay healthy.
Vieira’s career has been hindered by injuries to both of his shoulders, which is a huge reason why the talented bull rider has yet to win a gold buckle.
“Well, he is one of their best,” McBride said. “Fabiano was awesome (in Nashville). That was awesome. He is bleeding. He needs both shoulders worked on. What a flipping warrior.”
Vieira said, “I feel good. My shoulder helps me ride like when I was 19 years old.”
Vieira was the No. 16 seed for the Music City Knockout and eliminated Cody Rodeo Tyler, Joao Ricardo Vieira, 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi, Cody Nance, Pacheco and 2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel on the path to victory.
He was ranked 17th in the world standings before rocketing up to No. 7.
Vieira is 1,466.67 points behind Pacheco for the world No. 1 ranking and still has plenty of work to do if he hopes to seriously jump back into the world title conversation.
“Anything can happen, but I would say he is still a little bit far out,” 2009 PBR Ring of Honor inductee J.W. Hart said. “I don’t know. Them other guys are riding good.”
McBride added, “I would love to see him make a real push at it, but I don’t think I am ready to start saying Pacheco, Lockwood, Davis, Eduardo (are in trouble). I don’t know if Fabiano… again, any given day he is awesome. Can his shoulders hold up? Especially when you get to the PBR World Finals when it is rank bull after rank bull. Can he hold up?
Vieira agreed he has work to do if he hopes to try and get in the mix.
“It is too soon,” he concluded. “I have a long way until the Finals.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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