Colby Yates has always been popular among his bull riding peers, but they found new affection for him when he was unable to complete his last ride in a Professional Bull Riders event two months ago near Dallas.
After Yates won $50,000 and the title in the Iron Cowboy event at Cowboys Stadium, he could have added $100,000 by riding one more bull. When he was bucked off, the bonus was added to tonight's payout for the inaugural Last Cowboy Standing at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
"Yeah, quite a few came up and thanked me," said Yates, 29, of Sulphur City, Texas, who ranks 11th in money earnings and 25th in points this year in the PBR Built Ford Tough series. "I was sick about it. That's my money out here, and (now) I get another shot to win it."
Last Man Standing, a one-night event, will pay the winner $200,000 and guarantee him a spot in the PBR World Finals at the Thomas & Mack Center, Oct. 25 through 30.
Tonight's event, which begins at 6, pits the top 40 PBR riders in a progressive elimination competition. Each will ride in the first round, and those who complete eight-second rides continue to advance for up to four more rounds until just one rider is left.
"I'm a real big fan of these new (PBR) formats," Yates said. "It adds a whole new level of excitement and gives us a little more drive to win."
The format for Iron Cowboy was single elimination, with the rider with the most points or, if both were bucked off, the one who lasted longest advancing.
Completing rides is the key tonight, but scoring could be a factor. If more than one rider stays aboard through each of the five rounds, the rider with the highest overall score will be the winner.
Leading the field is Brazilian Valdiron de Oliveira, the top-ranked PBR rider who has won three of 14 events and successfully ridden a season-high 13 consecutive bulls. The field also includes former world champions Kody Lostroh (2009), Guilherme Marchi (2008), Mike Lee (2004) and Chris Shivers (2000, 2003).
Reigning world champion Renato Nunes will not compete after dislocating his left shoulder Saturday at a PBR event in Tampa, Fla.
Tonight's competition will be televised live on pay per view, another PBR first. Versus, which regularly airs the PBR, is unable to telecast the event because the cable network is committed to show an NHL playoff game in the time slot.
Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0247. Go to lvrj.com/rodeo for more on the PBR.