FORT WORTH, Texas ― When it comes to stats and matchups, bull riders are surprisingly aware and attentive.
They're not simply self-aware, but well aware of where every point and dollar puts them in the context of the overall Built Ford Tough Series.
The list of bulls being used for this week's 15/15 Bucking Battle was announced in order from one to 15 prior to the Chicago Invitational, so, as recent as Sunday afternoon, it was surprising when Guilherme Marchi had no idea that he had drawn the defending World Champion Bull.
Told he would indeed face Asteroid, the 2009 World Champion was equally surprised in replying, "Really?"
In fact, Asteroid is also the Monster Energy Money Bull, so he'll be worth an additional $21,000 if Marchi, who's never faced him until now, can make the 8-second whistle.
"He was the best bull of 2012," Marchi said. "He showed everybody he's the best and I wished to get on him one day.
"I need to get on. That's my job ― come here and ride bulls and I'm going to try to ride him too."
It certainly won't be an easy task for the 30-year-old Brazilian.
Asteroid, who beat out Bushwacker last season for the title, is making his 2013 debut Friday night, in Winston-Salem, N.C., at the LJVM Coliseum.
In 2012, at the World Finals in Las Vegas, he had the highest score in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round with 46.50 points, out of a possible 50 points, and tied Bushwacker for high score in Round 1 with 46.75 points.
Asteroid had the three highest and 10 of the Top 20 bull scores last season.
"He was the best bull of 2012. He showed everybody he's the best and I wished to get on him one day. I need to get on. That's my job - come here and ride bulls and I'm going to try to ride him too."
He registered the highest score of the year with 47.50 points, bucking off two-time World Champion Silvano Alves in 1.81 seconds at the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Sacramento, Calif., in January, and Valdiron de Oliveira in 2.33 seconds at the 15/15 that took place in Tampa, Fla., in September.
The third-highest score of the year - 47.25 points - came when he bucked off Stormy Wing in 1.99 seconds in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in Des Moines, Iowa.
He won the Pabst Blue Ribbon Award for being the high-marked bull at regular season events five times (Anaheim, Calif.; Atlanta; Des Moines, Iowa; Nashville, Tenn.; and Philadelphia). He also had two of the Top 10 bull scores in 2011 and was the high-marked bull at four consecutive events in Tulsa, Okla.; San Antonio, Texas; Springfield, Mo., and Milwaukee.
"I think I need to put everything together for (this) week," Marchi said.
He added, "I think he's going to be kind of hard for me. He's a little bull and I'm a big guy, but he looks very strong, kicks hard and has a lot of power."
Marchi said that in spite of being a smaller bull, Asteroid has a lot of kick and when he turns - left or right - he tries to push the rider to the outside. More importantly, he never has the same trip.
Although he could go left or right, he tends to go left away from the right-handed Marchi,who prefers bulls into his hand as opposed to away.
The charismatic Marchi said he's watched closely and studied Asteroid in each of his previous outings knowing they would eventually meet up.
The rest of the matchups include Ben Jones vs. Meat Hook; Jordan Hupp vs. Stanley FatMax; Aaron Roy vs. Superfreak; Marco Eguchi vs. Palm Springs; Kody Lostroh vs. Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey; Chase Outlaw vs. Shamoun; Billy Robinson vs. Teflon Tom; J.B. Mauney vs. Lightmaker's Rango; Nathan Schaper vs. RFD-HD; Douglas Duncan vs. Quiet Riot; Renato Nunes vs. Jack Daniel's After Party; Austin Meier vs. David's Dream; Edevaldo Ferreira vs. Delco; and Silvano Alves vs. Shepherd Hills Trapper.
Marchi's Monster Energy Money Bull matchup with Asteroid will close out the round, which takes place immediately following Round 1 of the Winston-Salem Invitational.
"I think he fit J.B. better," said Marchi, referring to Mauney's ride in San Antonio last year when he rode Asteroid for 93.5 points. "He came into J.B.'s hand.
"My style is kind of different from J.B."
The bulls for the PBR 15/15 are randomly drawn the week before the event, and assigned a position from 1-15.
The 15 riders are then assigned their bull according to their seeding. Asteroid was assigned the second position, and Marchi finished second in the 2012 BFTS season standings. The first five riders in the Winston-Salem 15/15 Bucking Battle are the Top-5 finishers from 2012, while the remaining 10 are the 10 highest-ranked riders currently competing on the BFTS, not including the top five finishers from 2012.
L.J. Jenkins and Oliveira, who finished third and fourth respectively, in 2012, and Fabiano Vieira, who is currently ranked 11, are injured and unable to compete. Robson Palermo sustained an injury in Denver this week and has been be replaced by Schaper in the 15/15 Bucking Battle this weekend.
2013 PBR 15/15 BUCKING BATTLES: Jan. 18 at Winston-Salem, N.C.; Feb. 1 at Sacramento, Calif.; Feb. 23 at Kansas City, Mo.; April 6 at Billings, Mont.; April 20 at Des Moines, Iowa; Sept. 20 at Biloxi, Miss., and Oct. 4 at Fayetteville, N.C.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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