Though he only has one win, Mauney has gotten himself in position to win a third world title by consistently making the whistle and, more importantly, his presence among the Top 5 is simply more intimidating than any other rider competing this weekend.
Kolbaba has a pair of wins at elite televised PBR events and a lower level event win a couple weeks ago, in Clovis, New Mexico, while Outlaw has accumulated seven Top 5 finishes this year and a 15/15 win in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride talked about Outlaw finally being able to enjoy himself this season.
“You gotta have your mind right if you want to ride bulls,” McBride said, “and I think Chase Outlaw does. I think he’s enjoying the process right now.”
McBride also said that Mauney certainly likes the grind of a 10-month long season.
Then again, in recent years, Mauney has proven to be a dangerous contender from anywhere inside the Top 10 or, as he did in 2013, when he came from outside the Top 10 to win his first of two gold buckles.
In recent weeks, Mauney has looked more like the rider who won two world titles, a pair of World Finals event averages, a trio of 15/15 Bucking Battles and 31 events – one shy of a PBR record of 32 held by McBride – than he earlier this season.
“I went back to being a cowboy,” said Mauney, who is three rides shy of becoming only the third rider in PBR history to reach 500 qualified rides at the elite televised level of competition, “and quit thinking about stuff so much.”
Mauney has earned three round wins this season and Kolbaba has five, while Outlaw has eight.
In fact, all of Outlaw’s stats this year have been gaudy in nature.
To go along with his eight round wins, he has another seven rounds in which he scored among the Top 5.
Though Outlaw hasn’t recorded an event win, consistency has carried the Arkansas native into connection after back to back seasons were cut short with shoulder injuries. He won the 15/15 in Sioux Falls and has finished in the Top 5 of seven events.
“You can’t get down on yourself when things ain’t going your way,” Outlaw said, “cause when they do go your way, you just gotta keep rolling with it.”
Mauney, Kolbaba and Outlaw will be joined by Guilherme Marchi, Gage Gay and Reese Cates at this weekend’s event, but a win by any one of those top three ranked Monster Energy riders could very well catapult them to the top of the PBR world standings.