ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney hustled past the rider walk-off area just outside the dirt inside WisePies Arena holding his riding hand and glanced at the roof of The Pit
Mauney knew he had let a great opportunity slip by on Sunday afternoon at the Ty Murray Invitational as he dumped his hand into a Monster Energy water cooler to ease his pulsating, red left hand.
The 29-year-old, minutes earlier, had just made a big move with his right free arm aboard the 2015 World Champion Bull, SweetPro’s Long John, as he tried to rip him to the outside after a multitude of emphatic jumps.
Mauney appeared to have countered Long John’s storm and seemed poised for his first win of the 2016 Built Ford Tough Series before the D&H Cattle Company bovine was ripped him over the front end at the 7.56-second mark in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
“He is the type of bull where if you don’t stay ahead of him, he will slam your ass and that is what happened,” Mauney said. “I like big bulls like that – that are real up and down. As long as you stay out over him where you like to ride bulls you will be OK. I got a little behind, and I paid for it.”
Long John was marked a season-high 46.75 points and was able to even the score with his new nemesis.
Sunday was the fourth meeting between the 2015 World Champion Bull and 2015 World Champion rider.
The battle of champions is officially tied 2-2 now.
“That was a surprise,” nine-time World Champion and CBS Sports Network commentator Ty Murray said. “I thought J.B. was right where he wanted to be. That was a good battle between those two. I showed on the telecast that if you stub your toe getting over that bull he is going to make you pay for it.”
Mauney had ridden Long John in two consecutive outs after being bucked off by Long John in 6.7 seconds at Iron Cowboy last year in their earliest showdown.
The Mooresville, North Carolina, cowboy then successfully rode Long John for 92.25 points in Thackerville, Oklahoma, last September as he took over the world lead for the first time since winning his 2013 World Championship.
He then made 8 seconds of glory on Long John in Oklahoma City for 90.25 points this past January.
Mauney has selected Long John with a pick in the championship-round draft in their last three encounters.
The latest meeting was another classic with Long John besting the defending champion rider.
“I thought he bucked like a son of a gun,” stock contractor Dillon Page said. “This is what I like about it. J.B. will get on and give it 100 percent. I just knew he was going to win the event. I was convinced. I thought there was no way he could throw J.B. off. That is his kind of bull, but today that bull showed out. He bucked today. It was one of the best trips he had probably since the Finals.”
Long John was marked 47.25 points at the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals when he bucked off Fabiano Vieira in 7.41 seconds to rally for the World Champion Bull title.
Long John’s buckoff against Mauney trails only Jared Allen’s Air Time 47-point, 2.24-second buckoff of Joao Ricardo Vieira in Phoenix.
It’s clear the defending champions always bring the best out of the other.
Long John averages a 45.5-point bull score against Mauney, while Mauney averages 91.25 points per ride.
“The thing with J.B. is he is going to pick whatever he thinks he needs to be first because he wants to be first,” Page said. “That is his main goal in life. That is what I like about him so well. He is not arrogant. He is not anything, but he steps up and shows everyone he is a true champion.
“I love it.”
Mauney finished the Ty Murray Invitational tied with Cooper Davis for fourth place, but his round victories on Friday (87.5 points on Oklahoma Bandit) and Saturday (88.25 points on Shelley’s Gangster) propelled him back into the No. 1 spot atop the world standings.
He takes a 115-point lead on No. 2 Paulo Lima into the BFTS Easter Break.
Page was proud of Long John equalizing the score with Mauney, but he knows this edition’s buckoff won’t change anything.
Mauney will certainly come after his bull again with vengeance.
“He thinks he can’t get bucked off by Long John,” Page said. “This won’t change him. We are going to get it. That is a guarantee. The next time he gets the chance to pick him, I bet money he picks him.”
Flashing a confident grin, Mauney said, “Oh yeah, we will match up again. Don’t worry.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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