Davis: ‘I’m mentally stronger than last year’

Cooper Davis has gone 11-for-19 over his last two months. Photo: Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com

Highlights

  • Cooper Davis has pushed himself back into the World Championship race in the second half, but he has been nothing but cool during his run.
  • That businesslike demeanor has helped him maintain his confidence as he looks to become only the second rider ever to repeat as World Champion.
  • Davis admitted that earlier in the season the many demands asked of him outside of the arena distracted him, but he has learned to roll with it.

In This Article

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Cooper Davis placed his right arm over the side of the back pens last weekend as he prepared for his latest interview request.

In recent weeks, the reigning World Champion has been thrust back into the spotlight as his dominant second-half run has him on the cusp of regaining the world No. 1 ranking for the first time since leaving Las Vegas last season as the World Champion.

His latest performance – a career-best 91.75-point ride on TLW’s Big Cat to win last weekend’s 15/15 Bucking Battle – and a 2-for-3, third-place showing in Austin, Texas, has him within 194.17 points of world leader Kaique Pacheco.

The chatter continues to get louder as to whether or not Davis can become only the second rider in PBR history to repeat as World Champion with each qualified ride he puts on the board. Before the camera lights are even turned on, Davis’ coolness about the topic would rival that of any air conditioner in South Texas.

“I feel really good right now,” Davis says with a confident but nonchalant shrug. “I am trying to not let the pressure get to me. Heck, I just feel good and there is nothing else I can say about it.”

Give the 23-year-old a suit and tie because he has been businesslike in his approach since the Built Ford Tough Series resumed last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Davis is normally the last rider to arrive in the locker room, and he doesn’t spend too much time messing around with his buddies before he prepares to nod his head inside the bucking chutes.

Following his ride aboard Big Cat, Davis landed on his two feet, moved his right arm in a circular motion as he ran to safety, politely tossed his helmet in the air and gave PBR entertainer Flint Rasmussen a hug.

Another one conquered, and it is just onto the next one.

Don’t be fooled though. Inside Davis’ relaxed demeanor is a man furiously dedicated toward winning a second $1 million championship.

There are only five events remaining until the 2017 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 1-5 in Las Vegas beginning with this weekend’s Buck Off The Island, presented by Cooper Tires, at NYCB LIVE, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Davis has drawn Boo Yaa (0-0, BFTS).

Fans can watch all of Round 1 exclusively on PBR LIVE beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.

The choppy waters of Long Island Sound may not even be able to rattle the Texas cowboy this weekend.

Davis’ demeanor has been one of quiet confidence. His riding has been one of thunderous dominance.

It is a dangerous yin and yang combo that may result in Davis joining Silvano Alves as the only bull riders to win back-to-back world titles.

A year ago, Davis went 21-for-33 (63.63 percent) with three event wins, a 15/15 Bucking Battle victory and seven Top-10s in the second half to usurp Pacheco on the final day of the season and win his first world title.

So far he is 11-for-19 (57.89 percent) with two 15/15 Bucking Battle victories, an event win and five Top-10 finishes in the last two months to get within earshot of Pacheco.

The exception is Davis is now closer to the world No. 1 ranking than he was at this point last season when he was 590.33 points out of the world lead.

“I feel like I am mentally stronger than last year,” Davis said. “At any point in time last year I feel like I could have fought myself in my head. I am riding good and there is not much to be thinking about.”

A second world title would make Davis the sixth bull rider in PBR history to win multiple world titles. He would put his name in the record books alongside three-time World Champion Adriano Moraes, Alves and two-time World Champions J.B. Mauney, Chris Shivers and Justin McBride.

McBride has been keeping an eye on Davis’ surge over the past two months, and he believes Davis is riding better than he did last year.

“It looks like he is riding better than he was a year ago,” McBride said. “This guy is riding as good as you could ask a guy to ride bulls. He is riding really, really good. I just see him being really comfortable right now.”

Earlier this year, Davis at times was frustrated by having so many media requests as the defending champion. Davis understood the importance of them, but he always rather spend time at home with his wife, Kaitlyn, and son, Mack, than be the face of the sport with so many demands outside of the arena.

It was a learning curve for the third-year pro and in the long run Davis believes he is a better person from it.

“In hindsight looking back, yeah. As much as I hated it, maybe it is helping me get through having to fight myself mentally as far as the world title goes.”

You can’t hide from success.

Davis is now the focal point of the world title race alongside Kaique Pacheco, Jess Lockwood and Eduardo Aparecido.

“I am just staying positive mentally,” Davis concluded.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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