LAS VEGAS – Kaique Pacheco lost his first battle of the 2018 PBR World Finals on Friday night, but the world No. 1 bull rider remains collected as he sits less than 36 hours away from potentially being crowned the 2018 World Champion.
Pacheco was downed by Cut The Cord in Round 3 at T-Mobile Arena when the bovine athlete ripped Pacheco to the left in 5.6 seconds away from his hand.
“It happens,” Pacheco said from the PBR Sports Medicine room.
Pacheco was icing his left knee (torn PCL/MCL) to try and reduce the swelling.
The 24-year-old then threw his hands up in the air.
The buckoff was old news to him.
It had only been 15 minutes, but Pacheco was already moving on to Round 4.
“Just focus on tomorrow,” Pacheco said. “Forget today, forget the pain, everything.”
However, did having to get on back-to-back bulls at the end of Round 3 result in the buckoff?
Was there any pain in his knee during the ride?
It still has been only a week since he tore the ligaments on the final night of the 2018 Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals.
Pacheco had a significant limp in his step on Friday night, the worst he has looked since the World Finals began on Wednesday night, and he said his knee did feel a little worse after landing on his feet in Round 2 following an 88.75-point ride on Smooth Wreck.
No excuses though.
“No,” Pacheco responded said of the knee causing the buckoff. “Cut The Cord just pulled me outside.”
Any regrets about accepting the re-ride with Cut The Cord in hindsight? Pacheco had ridden Humdinger for 52.5 points.
“Nope,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco’s confidence is two-fold.
One is a seemingly unwavering belief in himself this season, and the second is an innate ability to quickly erase the past from his memory.
“We need to understand that life is not made only of victories,” Pacheco said during the Velocity Tour Finals with Paulo Crimber translating.
Pacheco has not dwelled on his three previous championship shortcomings, and the same can be said about his buckoffs and injury this week.
He is confident his time will come.
“I try to focus on great rides,” Pacheco said. “Buckoffs, they happen. I don’t think anybody’s perfect. Anybody can get bucked off by any bull. I’m not perfect. I don’t think anybody’s perfect. I’m doing my best.”
Pacheco’s biggest challenger, though, was perfect last year at the World Finals.
And so far, Jose Vitor Leme is flawless again in Las Vegas.
Leme’s 89.75-point ride on Bottoms Up in Round 3 has him second in the event average.
The 2017 Rookie of the Year has ridden nine consecutive bulls, which is tied for the most in a row at the PBR World Finals since 2001.
“I'm happy to have managed to do my job more tonight,” Leme said. “I’m certainly surprised by the score, because the bull I rode always gives scores of 90 or so, so it's what I chose, but today it was not what happened.
“But no problem now. I'll stay focused and focus on my next bull.”
Leme has drawn South Texas Gangster (6-3, PBR UTB) for Round 4.
Fans can watch all of Round 4 on CBS Sports Network beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET. RidePass will offer companion coverage at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Most of all, Leme likely needs to ride the rest of his bulls to win the World Championship.
Leme heads into Round 4 sitting 1,262.5 points behind Pacheco with three rounds remaining in the season.
The 22-year-old is only one point behind Marco Eguchi for the top spot in the event average, which awards 1,500 points to the top finisher. That one point in difference results in a 780-world-point difference between finishing first vs. second.
If Leme were to buck off on Saturday night and not win the World Finals event average Sunday, then he would need to finish second in the event average and win both rounds on Sunday to catch Pacheco if the world leader fails to earn any world points the rest of the weekend.
Pacheco is still only a bull behind Leme in the event aggregate race and is sitting sixth in the average.
He has drawn Finning Milky Chance (1-0, PBR UTB). Milky Chance bucked off Brock Radford Friday night in 6.02 seconds.
Pacheco has shown this week that he doesn’t plan on letting the knee hold him back too much, therefore putting the onus on Leme to win the World Finals event average if he wants to have his best opportunity to win the championship.
“Since I started to ride bulls, forever in my life, it’s the same thing,” Pacheco said. “Ride my bulls.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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