“When you can put up big numbers, you’re a real threat to win a world title,” said two-time World Champion Justin McBride, who told a national CBS audience of 2.1 million viewers, “That was worth every point and that’s what we’re talking about—this guy tries in a big way.”
Humdinger was around to the right and although he turned away from Leme’s hand, the Brazilian-born left-hander could have ridden him all day long once he got around the first corner.
Humdinger could not have kicked any harder and Leme dressed him up and dominated for the entire 8-seconds.
“It’s really important, especially the caliber bulls we compete (on) day in and day out, and the bull I had (Saturday night), I study him a lot,” said Leme, with the help of Paulo Crimber translating for him. “Thank God he gave me the strength to leave the arena the (round-winner) tonight.”
McBride added, “That was a terrific ride.”
Leme added 150 points to his world standings total as he tries to move from third to first in the world standings.
He has two regular-season events remaining along with the World Finals.
In addition to expecting himself to win rounds, Leme still expects himself to win the 2018 world title.
“I expect opportunities to get great bulls to win rounds and accumulate points to go to Vegas Number One,” he said, “and get that gold buckle.”
Along with winning the final 15/15 Bucking Battle of the season, he finished the event average tied for 15th. In fact, he was one of four Monster Energy riders to finish in the Top 15 of the average in Milwaukee along with Chase Outlaw, 11; Guilherme Marchi, 12, and Derek Kolbaba, 14. Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney was 19th to give Monster Energy five riders in the Top 20 for the first time all season.
Outlaw, who is ranked 66th in the world, was competing on the elite level for the first time this season. He’s 443 points outside of the Top 35 and plans to compete in Greensboro, North Carolina, this weekend followed by Nampa, Idaho, to close out the regular season.
“It’s been a rough year,” Outlaw said, “but … (success) feels better when you had adversity. We gotta take it one bull at a time.”
That’s the same approach Leme has when it comes to riding down fellow Brazilian Kaique Pacheco from the top spot in the standings.
To catch Pacheco, Leme will need to add to his season-leading total of round wins.
If Leme can win more rounds, especially in Vegas, McBride said, “He can turn that into a world championship when it’s all said and done.”