BFTS SET TO BEGIN SEASON IN CHICAGO

Silvano Alves is the defending event champion in Chicago. Photo by Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com.

By: Heather Croze January 07, 2016@ 04:00:00 PM

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Silvano Alves is the defending Chicago Invitational champion.
  • The BFTS is holding its season-opener in Chicago for the first time.
  • J.B. Mauney begins his World Championship defense in Chicago and has drawn Wipeout.

IN THIS ARTICLE

 

PUEBLO, Colo. – Get ready Chicago! The “toughest men on dirt” are back as the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) kicks off its 23rd season of competition with the first event of the 2016 Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS), the Chicago Invitational at Allstate Arena on Jan. 9-10.

2016 marks the fourth consecutive year, and seventh overall, that the Top 35 bull riders in the world have stopped in the Windy City, and the first time Illinois has hosted the opening event of the BFTS.

The best bull riders in the world will converge on Rosemont’s Allstate Arena to take on the rankest bucking bulls the sport has to offer – 8 seconds at a time. Through thrilling rides and heart-stopping wrecks, PBR stars will face bovine athletes more than 10 times their size, some topping 2,000 pounds, fighting for the $30,000 event purse and valuable points towards the PBR world standings.

The action starts at 6:50 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9, and at 1:50 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 10. Tickets, starting as low as $20, are available at the Allstate Arena box office, www.Ticketmaster.com, and by telephone at (800) 745-3000.

New to the ticket options this year are PBR Elite Seats. Located in an exclusive section of the arena immediately next to the chutes and all of the action, PBR Elite Seats are priced at $500 each and will give fans the VIP experience of a lifetime; a pre-event reception with refreshments, backstage tours featuring a PBR 101 presentation and meet-and-greets with some of the PBR’s top stars. These seats are also on sale now. 

During Round 1 on Saturday and Round 2 on Sunday, the bull riders will face one bull each. Following Round 2 on Sunday, the Top 15 riders with the highest cumulative scores after two rounds will advance to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round for one more ride and a chance at the event title.

In October 2015, J.B. Mauney captured his second PBR World Championship (2013, 2015) and has said his goal is to win back-to-back world titles. Mauney will begin his quest in Chicago as he looks to become the third rider in PBR history to win three World Championships. Mauney will take on Wipeout (Regan Bucking Bulls) as his first bull of 2016.

Last year’s Chicago Invitational event winner and three-time World Champion, Silvano Alves (2014, 2012, 2011) will be back to defend his Chicago title. Alves rode Flint (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve) for 87.75 points during the Championship Round last year to notch his first win of the season. He will square off with Full Throttle (Cory Check) in Round 1 on Saturday.

These two greats will be joined by 2004 World Champion Mike Lee and fan favorites Matt TriplettRyan Dirteater and 2015 PBR Rookie of the Year Kaique Pacheco, as well as veterans Kasey HayesShane Proctor and Stormy Wing.

Returning to the BFTS roster in Chicago will be Markus Mariluch. Mariluch missed most of 2015, rehabbing a torn right biceps that he sustained at the end of the 2014 season. The 30-year old will have a three-event exemption, beginning in Chicago to qualify for the BFTS roster as one of the Top 35 bull riders in the world. Mariluch will face Little Air of Lone Star Bucking Bull Genetics on Saturday.

As the winner of the Bakersfield BlueDEF Tour event, 18-year old Derek Kolbaba will have the opportunity to ride this weekend in Chicago in hopes of earning enough points to move up in the PBR world standings. Kolbaba has drawn Set ‘Em Joe (Dakota Rodeo/Berger/Struve) as his Round 1 opponent on Saturday. 

The opening event of the new season will also feature an outstanding bull pen with five-time PBR stock contractor of the year Chad Berger and Jared Allen’s Pro Bull Team bringing some of their best. A few of Berger’s bulls will be Cowtown Slinger, Stuntin’ Like My Daddy, Beaver Creek Beau and Cooper Tires Brown Sugar. Three of Allen’s bulls will be DieselUncle Tink and Spotted Demon.

The former event winners in Chicago are:

2015: Alves
2014: Marco Eguchi
2013: Billy Robinson
2011: Robson Palermo
2008: Adriano Moraes and Dustin Hall
2006: Austin Meier

CBS Sports Network, the home of the PBR, will broadcast Round 1 of the Chicago Invitational on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. ET and Round 2, as well as the Championship Round, on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

Fans can also watch all of the action live via PBR LIVE at www.pbr.com/live

The BFTS is televised every week on CBS, CBS Sports Network and networks around the world. BFTS telecasts are produced for the PBR under a multi-year agreement with David Neal Productions, a Los Angeles-based production company led by 34-time Emmy® Award winner and Peabody Award winner David Neal, who serves as executive producer.

The Chicago Invitational is the opening event on the 2016 PBR Built Ford Tough Series schedule. The season will consist of 26 stops, traveling to cities such as New York, Anaheim, Calif., and Dallas. It will climax with the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas on Nov. 2-6 at the new Las Vegas Arena when the 2016 PBR World Champion, the bull rider who earns the most world standings points during the season, will receive the coveted World Championship belt buckle and $1 million bonus.

© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.

BFTS SEASON COUNTDOWN NO. 1 J.B. MAUNEY

By: Justin Felisko January 08, 2016@ 02:00:00 PM


J.B. Mauney rides Bruiser at the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals. Photo by Matt Breneman / BullStockMedia.com

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Last year, J.B. Mauney became only the fifth rider in PBR history to win multiple World Championships. 
  • He already has earned 30 points toward the world standings following a second-place finish at the Touring Pro Division event in Kearney, Nebraska, last month.
  • Mauney – the PBR’s active leader in 90-point rides (64) – is no stranger to hitting home runs on the BFTS and is accustomed to winning. In fact, Mauney (26 career BFTS wins) begins the season six wins away from Justin McBride’s PBR record (32).

IN THIS ARTICLE


PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2016 Built Ford Tough Series season kicks off Saturday night inside Chicago’s Allstate Arena and PBR.com will be counting down the final days of the offseason by taking a look back at the Top 5 bull riders at the conclusion of the 2015 season.

Today, we look at 2015 World Champion J.B. Mauney.

No. 1 J.B. Mauney

World Championships: 2

Best World Standings Finish: 1st (2015/2013)

2015 BFTS Stats:

Rides: 39

Attempts: 66

Riding Percentage: 59.09 percent

Top Ride: 92.75 points on Bruiser at the 2015 World Finals

Wins: 4 (Des Moines, Iowa; Biloxi, Mississippi; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Tucson, Arizona)

15/15 Bucking Battle Victories: 0

Round Wins: 16

Top 10: 12

Top 5: 11

90-point Rides: 6

2015 Recap: When J.B. Mauney tore his left ACL in Fresno, California, it very much could have been the end of Mauney’s 2015 world title aspirations. Instead, Mauney returned rested, motivated and went on a tear that gave fans and experts memories of Mauney’s 2013 historic comeback for his first world title.

Mauney missed five events last year with the torn ACL before retuning in Des Moines, Iowa, to win the first of four BFTS events. He went 2-for-3 for the victory in Des Moines before using wins in Biloxi, Mississippi, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, to hunt down previous world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira.

Mauney officially passed Vieira in Thackerville, Oklahoma, in September where he used one of his PBR-high six 90-point rides – 92.25 points on SweetPro’s Long John – and he would never let go of his world lead for the rest of the season.

The Mooresville, North Carolina, bull rider originally trailed Vieira by 1,662.5 points when he first returned to competition and he concluded the season with a 2,082.5-point lead on World Champion runner-up Kaique Pacheco.

Not only did Mauney lead the BFTS in 90-point rides, but he also finished the season No. 1 in round wins (16) and riding percentage (59.09 percent).

Mauney’s second world title put him in elite company in the PBR record books. He is only the fifth rider to win multiple world titles. Adriano MoraesSilvano AlvesJustin McBride and Chris Shivers are the other four riders to accomplish the feat.

It is an illustrious group, and Mauney said in October he understood how important the second gold buckle is.

“Winning a second world title, that kind of puts you down in history," Mauney said. “There are only so many guys that have only won two world titles and I would like to win more than just two. Winning two, you accomplished the dream when you are little winning one. Accomplishing it twice, there is really no words to describe it.”

Outlook: Mauney begins the 2016 season as the No. 1 favorite for winning the world title among PBR experts.

Mauney said his sprained left sternoclavicular joint of his riding arm (left) is healthy after the injury kept him from finishing the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals following his 90.75-point ride on Bruiser in Round 4.

He already has earned 30 points toward the world standings following a second-place finish at the Touring Pro Division event in Kearney, Nebraska, last month.

This year will be his second opportunity at winning back-to-back titles following a career-worst 39.67 percent riding average and fourth-place finish in the world standings a year after winning his first title in 2013.

The key for Mauney is simple, but something that will not necessarily be all in his control.

The soon-to-be 29-year-old – his birthday is Saturday – needs to stay healthy.

Many believe Mauney would have already won multiple world titles if not for his injury history and if Mauney can keep himself healthy for the majority of the season – and take time off when needed – he likely will be in strong contention for a record-tying third world title.

RELATEDMauney discusses lacerating his liver at 18 years old

Mauney – the PBR’s active leader in 90-point rides (64) – is no stranger to hitting home runs on the BFTS and is accustomed to winning.

In fact, Mauney (26 career BFTS wins) begins the season six wins away from Justin McBride’s PBR record (32).

However, coincidentally, Mauney has yet to win a 15/15 Bucking Battle in his career.  He also didn’t win any of the PBR Majors last season on his way to the World Championship.

If Mauney could win a PBR Major (New York; Arlington, Texas; Las Vegas; Nashville, Tennessee) this season, where there are 3,000 points up for grabs overall, it could go a long way to helping him secure a third PBR world title.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko


© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.

BFTS SEASON COUNTDOWN: NO. 2 KAIQUE PACHECO

By: Justin Felisko January 07, 2016@ 02:05:00 PM

 

Kaique Pacheco finished 2015 second in the world standings. Photo by Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Kaique Pacheco won the 2015 Rookie of the Year title.
  • Pacheco led the PBR with 78 qualified rides at all levels.
  • The 21-year-old also led the PBR with 12 wins at all levels.

IN THIS ARTICLE

 

PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2016 Built Ford Tough Series season kicks off Saturday night inside Chicago’s Allstate Arena and PBR.com will be counting down the final days of the offseason by taking a look back at the Top 5 bull riders at the conclusion of the 2015 season.

Today, we look at Kaique Pacheco, who finished the 2015 season second in the world standings.

No. 2 Kaique Pacheco

World Championships: 0
Best World Standings Finish: second (2015)
2015 BFTS Stats:
Rides: 37
Attempts: 78
Riding Percentage: 47.44 percent
Top Ride: 90 points on Compact in Tucson, Arizona
Wins: 3 (St. Louis; Nashville, Tennessee; Charlotte, North Carolina)
15/15 Bucking Battle Victories: 0
Round Wins: 7
Top 10: 11
Top 5: 6
90-point Rides: 1

2015 Recap: Kaique Pacheco was not your average rookie in 2015.

Pacheco concluded the year second in the world standings, the highest finish by a PBR rookie, by using a combination of consistency and clutch-performances.

He used a victory at the Music City Knockout – the final PBR Major of 2015 – in Nashville, Tennessee, to put himself in the thick of the world title race with J.B. Mauney and Joao Ricardo Vieira and finished the season with the fourth-most qualified rides on the BFTS (37).

Pacheco finished Nashville only 2-for-5, but he was able to eliminate Aaron RoyTanner ByrneMatt TriplettStetson Lawrence and Fabiano Vieira along the way. He earned 650 points toward the world standings to move to No. 3 in the world standings. At the time of his victory, he was within 707.5 points of Mauney’s world lead.

 

Pacheco’s 47.44 percent riding average was also the third-highest among BFTS riders.

However, what also extremely helped Pacheco rise to a second-place finish in the world standings was his dominance at the PBR’s developmental tour levels. Pacheco went a combined 41-for-60 (68.33 percent) on the BlueDEF Tour, Touring Pro Division and international events. The 21-year-old won nine non-BFTS events in 2015.

His 12 PBR wins at all levels was an organizational best. So too were his 78 qualified rides.

Other noteworthy facts of Pacheco’s rookie year are that he was the fifth Brazilian-born bull rider to win the Rookie of the Year title in the past six years, and he was the third consecutive rookie to finish inside the Top-5 of the world standings.

Outlook: While Mauney begins 2016 as the favorite to win the World Championship, both nine-time World Champion Ty Murray and two-time World Champion Justin McBride said this week that Pacheco is a rider to keep an eye on this year.

Pacheco will look to become the second rider in PBR history to win the world title the year after claiming top rookie honors. The only rider to do that thus far is three-time World Champion Silvano Alves.

Alves spent 2015 mentoring the young bull rider from Itatiba, Brazil, and the two spent the BFTS offseason competing in two PBR Australia events.

The time spent together in Australia should only help Pacheco, who rode five of six bulls attempted in the Land Down Under, continue to grow and mature as a professional.

Last year, Triplett credited his time with Alves in Australia as a major learning curve and contributor to his early-season success.

Pacheco was a proven winner in the PBR in 2015 and that will be key in 2016.

Not only did Pacheco win those 12 events, but he finished just one event win behind Mauney for the BFTS lead and didn’t seemed phased by the big stage when all eyes and cameras were focused upon him.

He finished 78-for-138 at all PBR levels and if he can bring that 56.52-percent riding average to the BFTS level, where he had a 47.44 percent ratio, Pacheco likely will be able to once again be a Top-5 contender.

Regardless of where he finishes in 2016, the future certainly appears bright for Pacheco, who won’t turn 22 years old until Sept. 18.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.

BFTS SEASON COUNTDOWN: NO. 3 JOAO RICARDO VIEIRA

By: Justin Felisko January 06, 2016@ 03:30:00 PM

 

Joao Ricardo Vieira finished 2015 third in the world standings. Photo by Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Joao Ricardo Vieira has finished in the Top-3 of the world standings in three consecutive seasons.
  • Vieira was the No. 1 or 2 rider in 2015 for 15 weeks.
  • The 31-year-old has never finished a season with a riding percentage above 50 percent.

IN THIS ARTICLE

 

PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2016 Built Ford Tough Series season kicks off Saturday night inside Chicago’s Allstate Arena and PBR.com will be counting down the final days of the offseason by taking a look back at the Top 5 bull riders at the conclusion of the 2015 season.

Today, we look at Joao Ricardo Vieira, who finished the 2015 season third in the world standings.

No. 3 Joao Ricardo Vieira

World Championships: 0
Best World Standings Finish: fourth (2015)
2015 BFTS Stats:
Rides: 40
Attempts: 87
Riding Percentage: 45.98 percent
Top Ride: 92.25 points on Walk Off in Seattle
Wins: 2 (Last Cowboy Standing & Iron Cowboy)
15/15 Bucking Battle Victories: 1 (Seattle)
Round Wins: 5
Top 10: 9
Top 5: 6
90-point Rides: 3


2015 Recap: Joao Ricardo Vieira was the No. 1 rider for nine consecutive events until an 8-for-26 performance (30.77 percent) over those final events, combined with 2015 World Champion J.B. Mauney’s second-half surge, led to Vieira coming up short by 2,305 points in the final standings.

In fact, Vieira was ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the standings for the final 15 weeks of the season before dropping to third during the Built Ford Tough World Finals.

It was a 3,307.5-point swing for Vieira, and a crushing defeat.

“It was disappointing,” Vieira said during the World Finals, “but I will be ready for next year to try again.”

Vieira also did not want to blame his second-half collapse on injuries despite trying to compete with an injured right knee/shin, riding wrist, sprained left MCL and bruised thigh during the final three months of the season.

The 31-year-old took over the world lead from Matt Triplett in Seattle, the same event in which he rode Walk Off for 92.25 points to win the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

 

He would be the No. 1 rider in the world standings until Mauney overtook him in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

Vieira made his march to the No. 1 ranking by first winning Iron Cowboy in February – the first PBR Major in PBR history – to jump from 26th to fifth in the world standings.

He then entered the summer break with a 1,002.5-point lead on No. 2 Triplett – the largest lead of any No. 1 ranked rider this season at that point – by winning the second PBR Major of the year (Last Cowboy Standing).

Vieira won a combined $383,233.33 with two PBR Major (Iron Cowboy and Last Cowboy Standing) victories and headed into the summer break with a 1,002.5 point-lead on No. 2 Matt Triplett – the largest lead of any No. 1 ranked rider this season at that point.

If not for his two PBR Major victories, which accounted for 46.78 percent of his world points, Vieira would not have been in the world title conversation last season.

However, Vieira did do above average in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, finishing the year 8-for-19. The eight qualified rides were second-most in the PBR behind Mauney’s 10.

Outlook: Joao Ricardo Vieira is one of the more compelling riders heading into the 2016 season.

Is Vieira a true world title contender? Or is he only a rider that used the PBR Majors to keep himself in contention last year until his second-half collapse?

Only time will tell what Vieira will be able to accomplish this coming year.

Vieira has finished inside the Top-3 of the world standings in each of his first three seasons, but he has yet to finish a BFTS season with a riding average above 50 percent. His highest riding percentage was

That will be Vieira’s biggest challenge in 2016 if he hopes to indeed become a true contender. Many agree that Vieira is one of the best at riding bulls into his hand (left), but he has been so poor riding bulls away from his hand that some believe he may never be able to win a world title.

According to the PBR Media Guide, no World Champion in the past 16 years has won the world title with a less than 50 percent riding average. Mauney had the lowest riding percentage among World Champions since 2000 with a 52.22-percent success rate in 2013.

The objective is clear for Vieira, who has a career riding average of 45.85 percent. He needs to ride bulls in both directions and raise his riding percentage above 50 percent if he hopes to be a true threat to Mauney and Silvano Alves – the two riders who have won the past five World Championships. 

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.

BFTS SEASON COUNTDOWN: NO. 4 FABIANO VIEIRA

By: Justin Felisko January 05, 2016@ 11:00:00 AM

 

Fabiano Vieira finished fourth in the 2015 world standings. Photo by Matt Breneman / BullStock

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Fabiano Vieira finished inside the Top-5 of the world standings for a second consecutive season with a career-best fourth-place finish in 2015.
  • Vieira had a deceivingly strong finish to the 2015 season, one that very much went unnoticed during the final three months of the season. He concluded the year 19-for-30 and his 19 qualified rides since Aug. 1 on the BFTS ranked second in the PBR behind World Champion J.B. Mauney (20).
  • According to ProBullStats.com, Vieira went 7-for-19 in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. The seven qualified rides were the third-most on the BFTS behind Joao Ricardo Vieira (eight) and Mauney (10).

IN THIS ARTICLE

 

PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2016 Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS) season kicks off Saturday night inside Chicago’s Allstate Arena and PBR.com will be counting down the final days of the offseason by taking a look back at the Top 5 bull riders at the conclusion of the 2015 season.

Today, we look at Fabiano Vieira, who finished the 2015 season fourth in the world standings.

No. 4 Fabiano Vieira

World Championships: 0

Best World Standings Finish: fourth (2015)

2015 BFTS Stats:

Rides: 43

Attempts: 82

Riding Percentage: 52.44 percent

Top Ride: 90.25 points on Diesel in Colorado Springs

Wins: 1 (Fresno, California)

15/15 Bucking Battle Victories: 1 (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

Round Wins: 5

Top 10: 11

Top 5: 9

90-point Rides: 1

2015 Recap: Fabiano Vieira finished inside the Top-5 of the world standings for a second consecutive season with a career-best fourth-place finish in 2015.

Vieira used consistency and grit to post his fifth season with a 50 percent or better riding average. Only one year – 2013 (46.81 percent) – did he finish below the 50-percent mark.

In 2015, he nodded his head a career-best 82 times and competed in every Built Ford Tough Series event.

Vieira had a deceivingly strong finish to the 2015 season, one that very much went unnoticed during the final three months of the season. He concluded the year 19-for-30 and his 19 qualified rides since Aug. 1 on the BFTS ranked second in the PBR behind World Champion J.B. Mauney (20).

According to ProBullStats.com, Vieira went 7-for-19 in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. The seven qualified rides were the third-most on the BFTS behind Joao Ricardo Vieira (eight) and Mauney (10).

Vieira’s best performance of 2015 came during the final PBR Major of the season when he went 4-for-5 to claim the ride score championship in Nashville, Tennessee. His final buckoff against Sasquatch ended a streak of nine consecutive qualified rides that Vieira began the second half of the season with. The streak tied a career-high.

Two weeks prior to Nashville, Vieira had to pull over at a gas station following the BFTS event in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and put his dislocated right shoulder back into place.

Vieira’s only event win came during the first half of the season in Fresno, California, when he went 3-for-3 to win his 10th career BFTS event.

He entered the summer break with a 90.25-point ride on Diesel to win the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as well.

Outlook: If not for a right shoulder injury and torn rotator cuff in 2014 that led to Fabiano Vieira having to alter his riding style, it is possible that Vieira would be a consistently stronger contender for a world championship.

Regardless of Vieira’s reluctance to undergo shoulder surgery, he has found a way to continue to put himself in the top echelon of the world standings in back-to-back seasons.

Michael Gaffney, who won the 1997 World Championship with an unstable left shoulder, expressed his admiration of Vieira’s toughness last season and said eventually you can train yourself to ride with an adopted style.

“It almost became natural to find yourself in a position where you knew where and where not to go with it,” Gaffney said. “You did it. You got talked into that position or you got flung into that position or you got jerked into that position and you had to go from there. You knew where your limits were a lot of times once you have been dealing it with for a while.

“At the same time, God I would hate to deal with that same thing right now with the level of bulls the guys are getting on.”

A key for Vieira in 2016 will be for him to improve placing in BFTS rounds. He only placed in the Top 5 of a BFTS round 16 times last season, not including his three round wins in Nashville, and he only earned round points for 37.21 percent of his qualified rides.

Vieira has shown an ability to place in the Top-5 of rounds in the past. In 2012, he placed in 23 rounds (60.53 percent of his qualified rides) and in 2014 he placed in 22 (52.38 percent).

In 2013, Vieira placed in only nine rounds while competing in just 16 events.

Getting back to 20 or more round placements, along with maintaining a riding average above 50 percent and a few more wins in 2016 could be a formula to put Vieira back in the world title conversation this year.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.

BFTS SEASON COUNTDOWN: NO. 5 MATT TRIPLETT

By: Justin Felisko January 04, 2016@ 05:00:00 PM


Matt Triplett won't make his 2016 debut until February after undergoing offseason elbow surgery. Photo by Matt Breneman / BullStockMedia.com

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Matt Triplett won two events in 2015, and finished the Built Ford Tough Series fifth in the world standings.
  • Triplett stood atop the world standings for eight weeks of the 2015 Built Ford Tough Series before a knee injury ended his run of solid riding.
  • After the injury, Triplett bucked off every bull he faced in April. 

IN THIS ARTICLE


PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2016 Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS) season kicks off Saturday night inside Chicago’s Allstate Arena and PBR.com will be counting down the final days of the offseason by taking a look back at the Top 5 bull riders at the conclusion of the 2015 season.

Today, we look at Matt Triplett, who finished the 2015 season fifth in the world standings.

No. 5 Matt Triplett

World Championships: 0

Best World Standings Finish: 3rd (2014)

2015 BFTS Stats:

Rides: 33

Attempts: 78

Riding Percentage: 42.31 percent

Top Ride: 90.75 points on Delco in Chicago

Wins: 2 (Oklahoma City; Anaheim, California)

15/15 Bucking Battle Victories: 1 (Allentown, Pennsylvania)

Round Wins: 7

Top 10: 14

Top 5: 6

90-point Rides: 3

2015 Recap: Matt Triplett took the next step in his career last year on the BFTS. He sat atop the world standings for eight consecutive weeks – the first time in his career that he was ever ranked No. 1 – and won his first two career BFTS events (Oklahoma City and Anaheim, California).

Triplett was cruising atop the standings before he faced his first major obstacle of his BFTS career. The 2015 World Champion contender sustained a torn left MCL at the Ty Murray Invitational when Coyote kicked him in the leg after being thrown at the 3.69-second mark.

Luckily, Triplett was able to avoid surgery, but the injury did cost him the world lead and two events.

It also halted momentum he built up through the first 12 weeks of the season.

He returned four weeks later for his home state event in Billings, Montana, but he couldn’t recapture his mojo from before the injury. He bucked off every bull he attempted in April and battled an 0-for-7 slump until the Rumble in the Rockies. In Colorado Springs, Triplett regained his confidence by going 4-for-4, including an 87-point ride on Redbone in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

However, Triplett would go just 8-for-27 (29.63 percent) in the final nine events of the season.

The PBR stretch run was a slow one for Triplett, who struggled outside of his 15/15 Bucking Battle victory in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The slow finish to the season prevented Triplett from setting a career-high in qualified rides as he wound up tying his career-mark (33).

Outlook: Triplett will not make his season debut until February after undergoing right elbow surgery on his riding arm on Nov. 6.

After admittedly returning too fast from a torn left MCL in April, Triplett has decided to take extra precautions this offseason as he recovers from right elbow surgery on his riding arm.

Triplett had two torn ligaments and bone spurs cleaned up after sustaining the injury during the fifth round of the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals attempting to ride Calypso.

“It was a pain I never felt before,” Triplett said in December. “I couldn’t even really move my elbow. I figured something was really wrong.”

However, missing the first month of the season is by no means a deal breaker.

Just look at J.B. Mauney and his 2015 championship-performance.

The biggest question in 2016 for Triplett will be how he responds from the injury, as well as adversity.

During his breakthrough season in 2015, Triplett became a rising star in the PBR. With that success came an added responsibility with the media spotlight and interview requests.

Triplett will need to continue to learn how to deal with outside expectations, while continuing to build on his success of his first three years.

The 24-year-old has done a good job improving in each of his first three seasons on tour and 2016 should be no different.

The talent is there and Triplett shown the ability to win BFTS rounds (seven) in 2015, which helped him post his second consecutive Top-5 finish in the world standings.

One area that will certainly help elevate Triplett is converting in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. The Columbia Falls, Montana, bull rider went 4-for-18 in the championship round in 2015.

If Triplett can continue to improve, make a healthy return to the BFTS and begin to convert more in the championship round it is likely he can put himself in the Top-5 conversation for a third year in a row.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.