OMAHA, Neb. – As action got underway for the first PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Unleash The Beast event in Omaha, Nebraska, in 12 years on Saturday evening, reigning World Champion Jose Vitor Leme’s (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil) seemingly unstoppable form was on full display. The Brazilian phenom logged his league-leading seventh round win, victorious in Round 1 of the PBR Union Home Mortgage Invitational.
Matched up with Blue Crush (Cord McCoy/Chad Reese), Leme was embroiled in a rubber match.
He entered the showdown with a 1-1 record against the striking bovine athlete, having faced the bull in Chicago in both 2019 and 2020. During their first meeting, Leme rode Blue Crush for 87.25 points. However, last season, the tables turned, and Leme was bucked off in a hard-fought 5.61 seconds.
Inside CHI Health Center Omaha, Leme reversed his most recent fortunes aboard Blue Crush, reaching the requisite 8 for 89.25 points to win the round.
“That bull is hard,” Leme said dirtside moments after his ride. “He already bucked me off a couple of times ago. Round wins are very important. It’s more points. This year, the race is on fire. A lot of guys are riding really good – Kaique, Joao, Cooper. I just try to do my job and my best every time.”
For his efforts, the former semi-professional soccer player netted a crucial 28 world points, allowing him to significantly cut into 2018 PBR World Champion Kaique Pacheco’s (Itatiba, Brazil) lead atop the world standings. Solidifying his No. 2 ranking, Leme is now within a slim 38 points of Pacheco and holding the world No. 1 rank for the first time in 2021.
This season, Leme is attempting to achieve a feat only accomplished by one other rider in league history. Should he repeat as the league’s World Champion, he would join three-time PBR World Champion Silvano Alves (Pilar do Sul, Brazil) as the only rider to have won the coveted gold buckle in back-to-back seasons. Alves won his first two titles in consecutive years, topping the world in 2011 and 2012.
Fresh off his fourth Unleash The Beast victory of the year, winning last weekend’s event in Nampa, Idaho, Pacheco was bucked off in an uncharacteristic 2.34 seconds in Round 1 of the Cornhusker State event, dispatched by DJ Long John (Blake Sharp/High Voltage Cattle).
Derek Kolbaba (Walla Walla, Washington) and 2016 PBR World Champion Cooper Davis (Jasper, Texas) tied for second in the opening round, logging matching 88.5-point scores to earn 17.5 world points.
The duo covered Lil 2 Train (Jane Clark/Gene Owen) and Zorro (Jane Clark/Gene Owen), respectively.
Both riders earned a qualified ride on a bull they had bucked off in a previous season. Lil 2 Train first matched up against Kolbaba in 2020 in Guthrie, Oklahoma, bucking off the Washingtonian in 4.99 seconds. Zorro proved the more dominant athlete against Davis in 2019 in Los Angeles, sending the Texan to the dirt in 6.14 seconds.
Both Kolbaba and Davis gained ground in the feverish 2021 PBR World Championship race courtesy of the silver effort. Kolbaba climbed two positions from No. 10 to No. 8, and Davis furthered his stronghold on the No. 4 world rank, honing within 243 points of the No. 1 ranking.
Rounding out the Top 5 were the Top 2 contenders for the 2021 PBR Rookie of the Year honor, with Colten Fritzlan (Rifle, Colorado) finishing fourth and Chase Dougherty (Stephenville, Texas) concluding the evening fifth.
Fritzlan rode @PBR on TikTok (Paradigm Bull Company) for 87.75 points to earn 16 world points, and Dougherty covered Hard Juice (Next Level Bucking Bulls) for 86.75 points to collect 15 world points.
While both riders retained their world ranking, with Fritzlan holding down the No. 6 position and Dougherty No. 23, the qualified rides further intensified the race amongst first-year riders on the Unleash The Beast.
Top-ranked Rookie Fritzlan leads No. 2 Dougherty by 167.5 points.
Fans can relive all the action from Round 1 of the PBR Union Home Mortgage Invitational starting at 8:00 a.m. EDT on Sunday, May 2, on RidePass, at RidePass.com or via the mobile app.
PBR Unleash The Beast action from Omaha, Nebraska, and CHI Health Center Omaha will conclude on Sunday, May 2, starting at 1:45 p.m. CDT, with Round 2 and the championship round.
PBR Unleash The Beast
PBR Union Home Mortgage Invitational
CHI Health Center Omaha – Omaha, Nebraska
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
- Jose Vitor Leme, 89.25-0-0-89.25-28 Points.
- Cooper Davis, 88.5-0-0-88.50-17.5 Points.
(tie). Derek Kolbaba, 88.5-0-0-88.50-17.5 Points.
- Colten Fritzlan, 87.75-0-0-87.75-16 Points.
- Chase Dougherty, 86.75-0-0-86.75-15 Points.
- Cody Teel, 86.5-0-0-86.50-13.5 Points.
(tie). Austin Richardson, 86.5-0-0-86.50-13.5 Points.
- Eli Vastbinder, 85.5-0-0-85.50-12 Points.
- Dener Barbosa, 85.25-0-0-85.25-11 Points.
- Ramon de Lima, 84.75-0-0-84.75-10 Points.
Kaique Pacheco, 0-0-0-0.00
João Ricardo Vieira, 0-0-0-0.00
Marco Eguchi, 0-0-0-0.00
Silvano Alves, 0-0-0-0.00
Mauricio Gulla Moreira, 0-0-0-0.00
Keyshawn Whitehorse, 0-0-0-0.00
Junior Patrik Souza, 0-0-0-0.00
Eduardo Aparecido, 0-0-0-0.00
Boudreaux Campbell, 0-0-0-0.00
Alex Cerqueira, 0-0-0-0.00
Taylor Toves, 0-0-0-0.00
Cody Nance, 0-0-0-0.00
João Henrique Lucas, 0-0-0-0.00
Marcelo Procopio Pereira, 0-0-0-0.00
Jesse Petri, 0-0-0-0.00
Paulo Ferreira Lima, 0-0-0-0.00
Michael Lane, 0-0-0-0.00
Brennon Eldred, 0-0-0-0.00
Kyle Jones, 0-0-0-0.00
Rodrigo Melgar, 0-0-0-0.00
Andrew Alvidrez, 0-0-0-0.00