The championship round of today's Professional Bull Riders World Finals will have a Brazilian flair.
On Saturday night, it was Brazil's Robson Palermo who won the fourth go-round at the Thomas & Mack Center with a score of 90.5 before landing on his head while dismounting. He was taken to University Medical Center for a possible fractured neck.
Five riders later, his countryman, Renato Nunes, scored 89.0 on SoulJa Boy to tie for second in the round and take the championship points lead before a sold-out crowd of 16,878. He became the only rider in the Finals to have completed each of his four rides.
Nunes will carry the lead in the event's aggregate and world championship standings into today's final rounds that start at 11:30 a.m. at the Thomas & Mack to conclude the five-day event.
Immediately after today's fifth round, in which all uninjured competitors will ride, the field will be cut to the top 15 for the event's short go-round.
The season title likely will be determined by the standings over the six rounds, in which the aggregate winner will earn 2,500 points and each place down to 10th will drop at 250-point intervals.
The season champion will earn a $1 million bonus, and the aggregate winner gets $250,000.
Nunes knows what he needs to do to get the big checks.
"I have to just ride two more bulls," he said, with a big grin.
And Austin Meier of Kinta, Okla., who lost the points lead to Nunes, knows what he has to do and what it will take for him to rally and win the championship.
Meier's only chance is to score high on his last two rides while Nunes gets bucked off twice today.
"I've got to do my job," Meier said. "Renato is in the driver's seat to win this deal, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to lay down, roll over and let him drive over me.
"Renato and I are good friends, and what makes our sport unique is we're not competing against each other, we're competing against the bulls."
Meier kept his hopes alive by hanging onto the side of Secretary of Soul for the last half of his ride.
"I knew I had to do everything to keep it going," he said after getting a score of 76.65. "It was now or never. I didn't figure on him trying to drop me off on my face and make me hang from the side."
■ NOTES -- Reigning PBR world champion Kody Lostroh of Longmont, Colo., will not compete today after suffering a concussion Saturday night.
Lostroh and J.B. Mauney of Mooresville, N.C., dominated the Finals a year ago when Lostroh rode seven of eight bulls and Mauney became the first to cover all eight in the Finals.
But Mauney, who has battled injuries throughout the Finals, and Lostroh have yet to make the eight-second buzzer.
Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0247.