PUEBLO, Colo. – Kaique Pacheco was able to shake off his season-high streak of eight consecutive buckoffs last weekend in Springfield, Missouri, but the vultures in the world title race are beginning to hone in on him.
Pacheco heads into this weekend’s Wrangler Long Live Classic, presented by Frontier Communications, 150 points ahead of No. 2 Eduardo Aparecido, but reigning World Champion Cooper Davis is now within 549.17 points of Pacheco courtesy of his monster performance (850 world points) in Springfield.
Meanwhile, No. 4 Jess Lockwood is also within striking distance at 590 points behind.
Despite his struggles and Davis’ surge, Pacheco shrugged off his buckoff streak as no big deal last weekend.
“I feel calm,” Pacheco said with the help of Guilherme Marchi translating. “There is no pressure. I try to ride each bull I get on and the result is a consequence.”
The 22-year-old is only 4-for-15 since the Built Ford Tough Series resumed from the summer break last month.
Pacheco’s 26.67-percent riding average is far below his career average (49.98 percent) and his past performances should mean it is only a matter of time before Pacheco is back to his old self.
The Itatiba, Brazil, bull rider sustained a concussion during his 2.39–second buckoff against Mudshark last weekend, and he will have to go through the PBR’s concussion protocol before riding in Round 1 on Saturday night inside the Frank Erwin Center.
Pacheco took a series of shots to his body in Springfield, including multiple hits from Jack Shot during last weekend’s 15/15 Bucking Battle.
The 2015 PBR Rookie of the Year also had been dealing with a right hip/groin injury this summer, but Pacheco reiterated in Springfield that injuries are not contributing to his slow second-half start. Nor are his struggles related to any added internal pressure that he may be putting on himself following back-to-back runner-up finishes in the world title race.
“No, this is part of the life,” Pacheco said. “It is part of the sport. These things happen sometimes. All the bull riders stay at the top. Sometimes they buck off. I am just very happy to do my job.”
Two-time World Champion and CBS Sports Network commentator Justin McBride said Pacheco has been behind his bulls during his recent slump.
“All it is for him is he is getting beat leaving out of here and getting set into his hand the first jump,” McBride said. “He really had to pay for that in the championship round. The one he rode, he got left out of there square and once the bull turned back he was in good shape. He is putting himself, being stuck into his hand, way behind everything once a bull turns back away from his hand. He can get by with it a little bit with bulls that go the other direction.”
Pacheco has drawn Udder Lover (13-2, BFTS) for this weekend’s 15/15 Bucking Battle. It is one eight rematches scheduled for Austin.
15/15 Bucking Battle Matchups
Claudio Montanha Jr. vs. Cooper Tires Semper Fi (35-14, BFTS)
Marco Eguchi vs. SweetPro’s Bruiser (33-8, BFTS)*
Rubens Barbosa vs. Cochise (27-5, BFTS)*
Cody Nance vs. Chocolate Shake (10-3, BFTS)*
Joao Ricardo Vieira vs. Hurricane Hustler (8-1, BFTS)
Cody Teel vs. Wicked Stick (16-4, BFTS)*
Stetson Lawrence vs. Mudshark (4-3, BFTS)
Stormy Wing vs. Speed Demon (9-2, BFTS)
Dener Barbosa vs. Catfish John (22-7, BFTS)
Chase Outlaw vs. Fire & Smoke (35-12, BFTS)*
Derek Kolbaba vs. Deep Water (17-2, BFTS)
Jess Lockwood vs. Jack Shot (20-3, BFTS)
Cooper Davis vs. TLW’s Big Cat (27-1, BFTS)*
Eduardo Aparecido vs. Mystikal (14-1, BFTS)*
Kaique Pacheco vs. Udder Lover (13-2, BFTS)*
$ Rider has successfully previously ridden the bull
Fans can watch the 15/15 Bucking Battle exclusively on CBS Sports national television Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.
Udder Lover bucked off Pacheco in 3.51 seconds in Little Rock, Arkansas, in March.
Marchi has been training alongside Pacheco at Fit-N-Wise Rehabilitation and Performance Center in Decatur, Texas, and the 2008 World Champion brushed off any need to be concerned about Pacheco’s recent performance.
Austin is one of six remaining BFTS events before the 2017 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 1-5 in Las Vegas.
“He has been working out with me and Cliff Cooper – our personal trainer,” Marchi said. “Me, Silvano (Alves), Ramon (de Lima) and Kaique. We do a circuit and we all feel strong and have a lot of energy. We start strong and finish strong.”
Coincidentally, the only rider to have reached the 8-second mark on Upper Lover at the BFTS level is Davis – the same rider that edged Pacheco for the 2016 world title on the final day of the World Finals.
Davis rode Udder Love for 88.5 and 89.5 points in back-to-back weekends this past March.
Udder Lover is coming off a career-high 45-point bull score last weekend after he bucked off Brock Radford in 1.93 seconds.
Davis will have his hands full in the 15/15 Bucking Battle with a rematch against TLW’s Big Cat (27-1, BFTS). Davis was awarded a re-ride after Big Cat hipped himself during their matchup in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in Tulsa.
No. 6 Chase Outlaw is returning to competition for the first time since separating his right shoulder at a Touring Pro Division event in West Monroe, Louisiana, on Aug. 26.
Outlaw will take on Fire & Smoke after previously being bucked off by the bull in 4.97 seconds at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in Big Sky, Montana.
No. 4 Lockwood is in the draw as well after X-rays on his lower back came back negative Monday morning.
Lockwood takes on Jack Shot in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. The D&H Cattle Company bovine athlete has been impressive the last two weeks with consecutive 45-plus point buckoffs of Pacheco.
Marco Eguchi, Claudio Montanha Jr. and Dener Barbosa are in the draw as alternates for No. 7 Fabiano Vieira (jaw/left shoulder), No. 9 J.B. Mauney (reconstructive shoulder surgery), No. 10 Matt Triplett (left shoulder) and No. 15 Mason Lowe (right elbow).
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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