Bull rider J.B. Mauney’s last name is pronounced “Mooh-nee,” but he might want to change it to money after his clutch performance at the Professional Bull Riders World Finals at the Thomas &Mack Center.
The only rider in PBR history to stay on all of his bulls for eight seconds at the Finals — where he went 8-for-8 en route to the event title in 2009 — Mauney went 6-for-6 this year to overtake two-time defending world champion Silvano Alves for the first world title of his eight-year career.
“Finally,” said Mauney, who had previously finished second twice and third twice in the world standings. “It was a dogfight right down to the very last bull.
“I take my hat off to Silvano. He tried his guts out.”
Due to an illegal slap of his bull on Saturday night, Alves left the building without his unprecedented third straight gold buckle.
The Brazilian settled for second place in the event and second in the world standings, 977.5 points behind Mauney — who is the first American to win the world title since 2009, when he finished 594 points behind Kody Lostroh in the closest championship race in PBR history.
In a back-and-forth battle, Mauney — who entered the Finals trailing Alves by 538.5 points — took a narrow lead (by 30.75 points) for the first time this season Thursday before again falling behind Alves (by 19.75) on Friday.
Mauney bounced back to win the final three rounds, taking a commanding 471-point lead with a 90.75-point ride Saturday. He punctuated his flawless Finals on Sunday with a title-clinching 91-point re-ride on Ford Hammer Down in the fifth round and a 93-point ride on Wipeout in the sixth and final round.
After Alves had cut his deficit to 32.75 points with an 88.25-point ride on Cowtown Slinger in the fifth round, Mauney’s bull, Harlem Shake, wouldn’t cooperate and he hopped aboard Ford Hammer Down instead.
Including the Finals, the 26-year-old cowboy from Mooresville, N.C., won nine of his last 15 events — and rode 28 of 41 bulls — in the most prolific run in PBR history. Not that it was easy.
“Every night before I got on, I couldn’t spit if you wanted me to,” he said.
Mauney, who kickstarted his hot second-half run by riding two-time defending PBR World Champion bull Bushwhacker — ending the bull’s four-year, record-setting 42 straight buckoff streak — credits his wife, Lexie, for much of his success. She convinced him to take a break midway through the season.
“I was pretty hardheaded before I got married. I didn’t listen to nobody,” he said. “I always thought you’ve got to be tough to ride bulls and you can ride with pain, but the best thing I ever did was take that break.
“I went home, got my mind right and didn’t think about bull riding. I came back with a brand new attitude and my body felt great. This is the best I’ve felt the entire year, and it showed in my riding.”
Mauney won his second Finals event title (2009) — which was worth $250,000 — and also earned a $1 million bonus for winning the world title to cap the richest single season in PBR history ($1.81 million).
“If I’d have won this back in 2009, I probably would’ve blown all the money. But now I’ve got a wife to help me put it to good use,” said Mauney, who has a 2½-year-old daughter, Bella, with Lexie.
“I want to thank my family, because I wouldn’t be where I am if not for them.”
The aptly named Ryan Dirteater placed second in the final two rounds, with rides of 89 on Nitro Carrilo Cartel and 90.75 points on Smackdown.
Joao Ricardo Vieira, who on Sunday rode both of his bulls — Home Wrecker for 87.25 points and Little Kombat for 87.50 — earned PBR Rookie of the Year honors and placed seventh in the 20th anniversary of the Finals in Las Vegas.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.