Moments after Guilherme Marchi finished second in the Professional Bull Riders championship last year for the third straight time, winner Justin McBride told the disheartened Brazilian that 2008 would be his year.
McBride's comforting words proved prophetic Saturday when Marchi clinched the PBR championship title and earned a $1 million bonus before a crowd of about 18,323 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
"I'm very proud of my job this year," Marchi said. "I've tried so hard for the last three years. I feel 50 years old."
The 26-year-old's journey to the United States from Sao Paulo, Brazil, must be measured in more than miles. He didn't speak English when he arrived in 2004 to pursue a PBR career. After becoming the world champion Saturday, he had an interpreter nearby, but she was never needed during his news conference.
The night also had added meaning for McBride's fans, if not for the former UNLV rodeo athlete and Oklahoman, who announced last month he would retire after this year's World Finals.
McBride, 29, won the Finals sixth round with a score of 91.75 on Scene of the Crash owned by Frontier/Teague/Ron White stock contractors.
He said the round win wasn't any better than any of his others in his 10-year career.
"I'm happy for Guilherme," McBride said. "He really deserves it. Sometimes when you deserve something, it doesn't mean you're going to get it. He went out and took it."
McBride, a two-time champion, and Adriano Moraes, a three-time winner, will retire after today's competition that begins at 11:30 a.m.
"I've pretty much put retirement out of my mind," McBride said. "I'm sure I'll think about it after tomorrow."
Marchi said he will not miss the final rides of the two riders he calls good friends.
"But I beat both of them this year," he joked.
Moraes won the first PBR championship in 1994 and got the attention of bull riders in Brazil, where the sport is popular but often pays its big event winners with cars or trucks.
"Adriano gave me support," Marchi said, recalling competing in a PBR-affiliated series in Brazil in 2001. "He pushed me. Everybody loves him and he loves what he is doing. Everybody will miss him."
Marchi clinched the title with an 87.5-point ride -- his lowest of this year's Finals -- and became the first Finals competitor to complete six straight rides.
He needed only to complete his ride after North Carolina's J.B. Mauney was bucked off for the first time in six rounds.
Marchi can tie another record today if he holds on to win the Finals aggregate title, which pays a $250,000 bonus. The only other rider to complete the single-season double was Mike Lee in 2004.
Marchi has a solid lead in the Finals standings and will win the event title if he rides both bulls today, including the second of two rounds when the field is cut to the top 15.
Marchi already has won $1.3 million this season but insists that's not what means the most to him.
"You can spend the money, but you'll have the (championship belt) buckle the rest of your life," he said.
Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at jwolf@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0247.