“I thought a long (explicative) time about when I was on that bull at the Finals and when he pulled me in underneath,” said Outlaw, who instinctively knew the outcome was not going to be good. “That could have been the last (explicative) I got on."
“I just need to tell myself to ride through.”
It was a stark reminder for him that when the 8-second whistle blows, the ride is not necessarily over.
Outlaw said he “hadn’t finished him” and needed to remain aggressive until he safely dismounted. Get-offs have been problematic throughout his six-year career.
This time, he paid a price.
Outlaw missed the entire first part of the 2018 season, but is expected to return to competition next weekend at a lower-level PBR event in Deadwood, North Dakota, where he plans to finish his bull rides at 12-seconds.
“That’s really been stamped to the forehead,” he said, “once the whistle blows the rodeo ain’t over and I just got to keep riding.”
He added, “Don’t be riding just to hear the whistle.”
Until this week, Outlaw has not competed since the Finals, much less gotten on a practice bull of any kind.
Instead, he’s gotten in shape digging post holes and fencing his entire Arkansas property. And spending time with his wife and two children, which is something he readily admits he’ll miss once he gets back on the road this summer.
He only needs to make up 380 points to get himself back into the Top 35, so he’s looking to do what he did in 2016 when he missed the first part of the season and returned with a stellar summer performance. However, he added, “There (are) not as many freaking events or Velocity points this year.”
His plan is to enter whichever events have the most money added, so he is likely to be competing at the PBR Canada events this summer, and said “the points will take care of themselves.”
Outlaw will turn 26-years-old on June 24 and is entering the prime of his career.
Provided he’s healthy, recent years prove he’s ready to contend for a title.
In 2016, after missing the first part of the season, he responded with a great second-half and finished 14th in the world standings. He missed some time last season because of injuries and a strong finish in Vegas gave him his first Top 10 season.
He certainly has experience on his side.
“They still think of me, really, as a young guy,” Outlaw said, “but, really, truly this has been, this will be my seventh year to go to the World Finals. I’m really not that young.”
He made his debut at 18.
Unlike past years, when Outlaw made it a point to spend time championing his fellow riders and showing support for everyone around him, this season he is focused on his own goals.
“I’m getting ready to fight like a savage until the whistle blows,” he concluded. “I’m not riding against them, but I ain’t there to help you either. My attention’s focused elsewhere because I’m about to go warrior mode.”