PUEBLO, Colo. – In sports, there’s nothing like a good rivalry to really get the competition going, and the PBR certainly has no shortage of them.
Whether it’s man vs. bull, man vs. man, or even country vs. country, the PBR has seen its fair share of heated battles throughout its history.
Tune in to RidePass on Pluto TV (channel 720) on Dec. 26 at 10 p.m. ET to dive into some of the best rivalries in recent memory on PBR Rivalries, and stay tuned to see what the 2022 season holds when it kicks off in Indianapolis, Indiana, on New Year’s Day (8 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network).
From 2011-2015, nobody not named J.B. Mauney or Silvano Alves won a world title. The two went toe-to-toe as two of the greatest to ever nod their heads, and fans were treated to one of the greatest rivalries the sport has ever seen.
Alves became the first rider to win back-to-back world titles in 2011-2012 before Mauney made history of his own at the 2013 World Finals. He completed one of the most dramatic comebacks in PBR history by winning the World Finals event average and the world title after beginning the summer break ranked No. 10.
“The goal was to win the world, and that’s what I had set in my head,” Mauney said. “If I’d let one slip by me and buck me off, then I didn’t worry about it. If they’re going to run another one under you tomorrow, make that one count.”
In 2014, Alves was back on top again, becoming the second rider to win three World Championships and doing so with a World Finals event win of his own. Then it was Mauney taking another crown in 2015.
“I always knew he was going to stay on,” Mauney said of Alves. “So if there was any chance to win a world title when he was winning everything, I had to stay on every bull I got on. That was the only way you could compete with him because you knew he was going to ride everything.”
When it comes to national powerhouses in the bull riding world, no nation comes close to the United States and Brazil. In PBR history, only one World Champion has not been Brazilian or American (Australian Troy Dunn won the world title in 1998).
Nowhere is that rivalry more pronounced than at the PBR Global Cup, where Team USA and Team Brazil have split the victories with two apiece.
“It always seems like there’s a Brazilian and an American that are right there in the hunt for a world title every year, and it really brings a lot to the sport,” said 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis. “There’s no doubt the rivalry’s real, but it’s a friendly rivalry, and it just makes the whole sport so much more fun than just being an American sport.
“Our rivalries are a lot different. We’re all really close. We’re all really good friends, and the only rivalry is in the arena. You’re pulling for your country, but at the same time, those guys that are on the other team, they’re just as good friends as the guys that are on your team.”
Jess Lockwood vs. Jose Vitor Leme
In 2017, a youngster named Jess Lockwood won the world title while an unknown Brazilian phenom named Jose Vitor Leme won the World Finals event title and Rookie of the Year. It was a performance that birthed a potentially legendary rivalry.
In 2019, Lockwood and Leme were locked in a heated race for the world title and traded blows through the World Finals. Though Leme began the event ranked No. 1, Lockwood stormed from behind to win his second world title. Leme got his revenge in 2020 and 2021, though, putting together two of the greatest seasons in PBR history to become the second back-to-back World Champion.
“It’s like J.B. and Silvano,” Lockwood said. “You’ve got someone there to push you every single weekend. He’s going to do great, make big rides, so you have no choice but to step up if you plan on beating the guy.
“You never see (Leme) go through a phase where he’s doing bad. He might have a couple bad rides, but it never accumulates with the guy. He can follow it up with a 90-plus-point ride the very next ride, and it’s nothing to him. You never see him go through streaks.”
J.B. Mauney vs. Bushwacker
J.B. Mauney is known as the dragon slayer for his legendary ability to ride the rankest bulls in the PBR. And there have been few bulls – if any – ranker than three-time YETI World Champion Bull Bushwacker.
Bushwacker had a buckoff streak of 42 – including eight attempts by Mauney himself. After his first attempt, Mauney admits he “kind of had it out for him” and got on him any time he could. In 2013 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he finally got the best of the formidable bovine.
“I started something I could not stop until I finished it,” Mauney said. “The first time I got on him, they were talking him up, and he made pretty short work of me. Well, it pissed me off, so next time I had a chance, I picked him, and he did the same thing again. Eventually, it was just kind of a pride thing. It cost me a lot of money, it cost me winning a lot of events, but I knew eventually I was going to figure him out, or he was going to stub his toe. Either way, I was going to ride him.
“I set my mind to, ‘To be the best, you’ve got to ride the best,’ and at the time, he was the best bull going. So any time I had a chance to pick him, that’s what I was going to pick, and I was going to give it my all. You have to have a different mindset, and I had it in my head I was going to ride him. I didn’t care how many times it took me to try.”