After celebrating his event-winning 94-point ride on 'I’m Legit Too', two-time reigning PBR World Champion Jose Vitor Leme took his protective helmet off and as he fashioned his customary black, felt cowboy hat atop his head, he looked at PBR.com insider Justin Felisko and proclaimed, “Justin, I’m back.”
Those were the two words the Monster Energy rider repeatedly shared throughout the weekend.
He said it Friday night after riding God Bless America for 89.75 points and again at the opening of the broadcast on CBS Sports Network when he again told the television audience, “I’m back.”
He later added, “Right now I’m just enjoying my moment,” said Leme, who was 3-for-3 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, “I’m not thinking about the wreck. I’m not thinking about the points. I’m just thinking about riding my bulls and enjoying the moment.”
The win comes two weeks after what could have been a devastating wreck in Sioux Falls, South Dakota when it looked like he was stepped on after being forcefully driven face-first into the dirt.
Thankfully, it was a glancing blow and x-rays proved negative regarding the potential of a broken jaw. Instead, Leme took a week off and returned to the same arena where he rode Woopaa for a record-setting 97.75 points en route to his second consecutive PBR world title.
Leme is hoping Tulsa will again propel him toward another gold buckle and another $1 million bonus next month at the PBR World Finals.
“I’m so happy to ride pretty well in this arena,” Leme said. “It’s my second victory here. … This arena means a lot to me. Thank you so much for everybody here supporting us.”
The event win — his second of the season, he previously won in Little Rock, Arkansas, last month — moved Leme inside the Top 5 of the world standings for the first time in 2022. He is now ranked fourth in the world with only two regular-season events remaining.
That said, Leme contends he is not looking at the world standings and knows all too well, that anything can and has proven to happen during the World Finals, especially with the expansion from six to eight rounds in 2022.
Leme is one of only two riders in the Top 25 who have previously won a PBR world title. That said, Monster Energy teammate Cody Teel, who was fourth in the Tulsa average with a 2-for-3 performance, won a PRCA title earlier in his career.
“I’m just thinking about my next bull,” said Leme, “and everything is going to happen if I ride him.”
He added, “I’m still in the race. I’m going to put it in God’s hands and see what He (has for) me.”
Leme and his Monster Energy teammates — Derek Kolbaba, 12; Cody Teel, 22, and Marco Eguchi, 23 — will be in Nampa, Idaho, this weekend before wrapping up the regular season a week later with a three-day event in Billings, Montana.