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Leme Dreaming of Record-Tying Third PBR World Title

Jan 092023

There are not many things left for Jose Vitor Leme to accomplish when it comes to professional bull riding.

Leme checked one of those few things off his list in the Championship Round when he rode away with the event win at the annual Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden, in New York City, on Sunday afternoon — a career first — with an impressive 92-point effort on Cliff Hanger.

“It’s my first time winning in Madison Square Garden and my first win of the season,” Leme said. “I’m so happy to be healthy again. I thank the Lord for allowing me to do what l love and being here in New York with these great fans supporting us.”

The two-time PBR World Champion had not competed at the elite, televised level of competition in 62 days until Friday night, when he rode Pickle Moonshine for 87.75 points.

You would have never known Leme had taken any time away from the most dangerous sport in the world, much less given himself an early-season opportunity to fully recover from the broken ribs he suffered in 2022, and later re-fractured.

Chasing a record-tying third gold buckle — another of the few accomplishments left on his to-do list for 2023 — Leme finished the weekend 3-for-4 after missing the first five events of the season.

“I’m feeling great,” Leme told PBR.com after riding Bad Decisions for 86.5 points on Saturday night. “I’m just thankful and blessed about this, and I thank God for giving me the health to do what I most love to do in my life.”

He added, “I never rode that well (in New York). I won one 15/15 (Bucking Battle) one time, but I never did really good during the event. This time, I’m doing good so far, so I hope I continue that and finish with a buckle.”

Indeed, he finished well.

In fact, the event-win catapulted the Brazilian native from unranked to 10th in the PBR world standings.

Leme is the latest in a long line of Monster Energy riders — Jess Lockwood (2019, 2017), Guilherme Marchi (2015), J.B. Mauney (2014, 2009, 2007), and Robson Palermo (2013) — to have won this prestigious event eight times now in the past 17 years.

And it is the 16th time the PBR has been to MSG in its 30-year history.

Leme, who won his world titles in 2020 and again in 2021, recently won the first-ever PBR Team Series MVP race in November after being selected No. 1 overall by the Austin Gamblers in the Team Series draft last May.

“I think I have a lot of things to do in my career,” said Leme, in a story for PBR.com. “Now, my next dream is to be a three-time World Champion, so I’m going to work for that.”

Leme’s fellow Monster Energy riders Boudreaux Campbell, 13; Kaique Pacheco, 23; Chase Outlaw, 25; and Derek Kolbaba, 26; are also among the top-ranked riders in the world.

Another two-time PBR champion, Jess Lockwood, will make his season-debut next week in Chicago, while newcomer and reigning PBR World Champion Daylon Swearingen has been battling through injuries and is doubtful for the event.

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