Cover photo: Riding Solo by Andy Watson/BullStock Media
It is official, the PBR got the job done and hosted their first big event of 2021 in Ocala, Florida. In what was the heavily anticipated kick-off of the American Roots Edition of the PBR Unleash the Beast Tour, the bull riding was stellar and the wrecks were rough.
The first event of the year brought on the new format where each evening is closed by a Championship Round. During the inaugural run, of this new layout, the fans and athletes seemed to enjoy the big climax to the night and the bigger opportunity to collect points.
Mauricio Moreira of Gaviao Peixoto, Brazil dominated Day 1 by besting The Kickin’ Chicken from Diamond M Bucking Bulls with 86.75 points. This score gave him the second choice going into the Championship Round where he selected Big Black of K-C Bucking Bulls/Joe & Nina Webb. The Day 1 performance brought Moreira, 130 world points and $12,750, propelling him to the #1 slot in the World rankings, for the first time in his career.
Day 1's Winning Ride courtesy of the PBR
The second big finisher for Day 1 was former World Champion Cooper Davis, who bested El Chapo of Deer Prairie Creek Bucking Bulls/5S Bucking Bulls, during Round 1, and Strange Cargo of Jane Clark/Gene Owen, in Round 2. And, these strong performances awarded Davis 76 world points and $6,350.
The big story of Round 1 was the injury that 2-time World Champion Jess Lockwood suffered, which appears to be a broken jaw, putting him out for an unannounced amount of time. Bull riding fans will remember the 2020 season when Lockwood received an injury in Kansas City that put him out for what should have been most of the season. During PBR's break due to COVID, Lockwood was able to dedicate himself to getting healthy and was able to get back in the arena early enough to qualify for the World Finals. This allowed him to make an impressive run toward the top at the tail end of the season.
The reigning World Champion Jose Vitor Leme suffered what sounds to be an ankle fracture that will sideline him. The amount of time on the sidelines has not been made public but there is little doubt Leme will be back in the arena to make another run at his second title.
The top bull performance from Round 1 went to Ridin Solo (Cord McCoy/Bill McCarty) with an impressive 46 point bull score. Being top bull for Round 1's performance was not enough for this stellar bovine athlete so in Round 2 he rocked the bucking bull world with a superb 47-point bull score. This young animal athlete has made it known that he is bringing his "A-game" for the fight to win the PBR's Bucking Bull of The Year.
Round 2 proved to be just as exciting as Round 1, minus the injuries. In Round 2, Junior Patrick Souza put together two great rides, to claim a big win for the 2021 season. Souza, a last-minute alternate, got his chance on the tour and now has laid claim to continuing on the tour. Souza stamped his victory by covering Homegrown (Cord McCoy/Chad Reese) for a career-high of 88.25 points.
With a great start to 2021, the PBR heads to Arcadia, Florida, next week, for two more rounds of great bull riding action.
2021 PBR World Standings
(Place, Rider, Events, Wins, Top 5's, Points, Total Winnings)
1. Mauricio Gulla Moreira, 4, 1, 2, 130.00, $25,150.00
2. Junior Patrik Souza, 4, 1, 2, 123.50, $11,614.71
3. Cole Melancon, 1, 0, 1, 110.00, $10,900.00
4. Cooper Davis, 1, 0, 1, 97.50, $8,750.00
5. Keyshawn Whitehorse, 2, 0, 2, 70.00, $9,983.33
5. Silvano Alves, 1, 0, 1, 70.00, $5,233.33
7. Brady Fielder, 3, 1, 2, 69.00, $6,529.40
8. J.T. Moore, 3, 1, 3, 49.00, $8,789.02
9. Kurt Shephard, 3, 0, 2, 44.33, $4,028.40
10. Aaron Kleier, 3, 1, 2, 42.00, $14,105.40
11. João Ricardo Vieira, 1, 0, 1, 35.00, $3,400.00
11. Kyler Oliver, 1, 0, 1, 35.00, $3,650.00
13. Eduardo Aparecido, 2, 0, 1, 31.00, $3,583.33
14. Dalton Kasel, 3, 0, 1, 29.50, $6,123.38
14. Kyle Jones, 3, 0, 1, 29.50, $4,602.50