LAS VEGAS – World leader Kaique Pacheco was on the treatment table inside the PBR Sports Medicine room at T-Mobile Arena as Director of Sports Medicine Rich Blyn began to go through the process of fitting and adjusting Pacheco’s knee brace.
The brace was going to play an important role as the 24-year-old prepared to ride through a torn PCL and MCL in his left knee on Wednesday night.
Pain tolerance – and how much strength he would still have – was going to be another question mark for Pacheco heading into Round 1 of the 2018 PBR World Finals.
Pacheco, though, was as calm as ever on the table two hours before the start of the World Finals.
“I have done a lot of ice and treatment on my knee,” Pacheco said with the help of Guilherme Marchi translating before heading into the sports medicine room. “I am feeling better. Lots of compression. They are trying to make me better. I am very thankful for those guys. They spend a lot of time with me. I am very grateful for Richard, PBR Sports Medicine and Fit-N-Wise.”
Pacheco classified his pain as around a 6 or 7 on a scale to 10, but he rarely winced as Blyn took precious time analyzing Pacheco’s knee.
Blyn then used a Sharpie to mark areas on Pacheco’s knee where he felt pain.
He explained the plan was to add some foam padding underneath the brace to help relieve some of the pain Pacheco felt around his MCL.
At one point, Pacheco requested Blyn to adjust the padding after he first tested out the brace.
Pacheco eventually had his knee taped again with the extra padding and the brace was placed back on.
Blyn then put Pacheco through a few strength tests and had the fourth-year pro take a brief walk around the table.
Pacheco’s confidence, which he insists has yet to waver since he first sustained the injury four days ago at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals, was certainly there.
There was much less of a limp his step, and he seemed prepared to handle the pain that was set to come his way.
“When we tested the brace out, he put it on and it seemed like he had some pretty decent strength and he had minimal pain,” Blyn said. “Once we took the pressure off the MCL, he had a little more (strength). Pain is an indicator to shut down. So if you are not getting that pain influence, then the muscles will actually work a little better.
“Hopefully we will see how it goes tonight and we will take it day by day. We will try and keep that swelling down and keep him as comfortable as possible.”
Pacheco, who received another round of icing and electric stimulation therapy later in the night, could not have asked for a better result to begin the World Finals.
The Itatiba, Brazil, bull rider made a monumental statement aboard Rugby.
His 87.25-point effort was a message to everyone, including world No. 2 Jose Vitor Leme, that he does not plan on letting this injury prevent him from winning his first World Championship.
Pacheco threw his helmet with his both his hands.
The Ice Man was red hot with emotion.
By the time he was back inside the locker room, though, he was back to being cool, calm and collected.
“I am happy because I had a good draw for tonight and this was a good bull,” Pacheco said with the help of Silvano Alves translating. “I was not frustrated about my knee. I just wanted to ride my bull. I knew my bull can buck. He has a reputation as a really good bull.
“My knee feels good. I consistently ride my bull and my ride feels good. I felt a little bit of soreness after I jumped off the bull. I couldn’t go run. I had adrenaline. After I jumped, I felt sore. But that is normal for this.”
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said Pacheco’s ride and determination is an example of why he is such a fan of bull riding.
“You can’t predict how bad a guy wants something,” Murray said. “This guy has been dreaming of being in this position and being able to get a World Championship his entire life. He has been the bridesmaid several times. This shows guts and toughness at a level that most athletes don’t even attempt.”
Pacheco finished tied for sixth in Round 1 with Lachlan Richardson (87.25 points on Black Rose) for 42.5 world points.
He did not extend his lead on Leme as the reigning World Finals event winner than answered the bell.
Leme originally left the bucking chutes before Pacheco, but he was awarded a re-ride after Full Count stumbled.
The 22-year-old, therefore, went after Pacheco’s ride and had little time to prepare for his new bull, Swamp Wreck.
That did not stop Leme. The second-year pro converted for an important 88.75 points to finish Round 1 in third place for 125 world points.
“I really didn’t see Kaique’s ride,” Leme said with the help of Paulo Crimber translating. “I just heard he made a score. I just tried to focus on my bull. I am going to continue to do this the same way the rest of the weekend. Ride bull by bull and finish strong.
“It was kind of harder than normal because I didn’t know the bull. I couldn’t watch any videos of him and nobody told me anything about him. I just tried to focus and match the bull move for move. The way I got on him and rode him, I felt like he could have gone backwards and I would have been with him all the way.”
Leme will head into Round 2 trailing Pacheco by 1,452.5 points.
Pacheco has drawn Smooth Wreck (7-1, PBR UTB) while Leme has a rematch against Bad Beagle. Leme has bucked off Bad Beagle in the pairing’s last two meetings, and three times overall, but he did conquer the bull for 91.5 points in Albuquerque.
Fans can watch Round 2 on CBS Sports Network beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET. RidePass will have companion coverage beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET.
No. 9 Eduardo Aparecido (89 points on Mr. Majestic) and No. 7 Cody Nance (88.5 points on Blue Crush) kept their faint world title hopes alive with qualified rides in Round 1. They were the only remaining riders in the Top 10 to reach 8 seconds.
No. 10 Fabiano Vieira was bucked off by Medicine Man in 3.31 seconds and he is now officially out of the running.
There are nine riders remaining in the race – Pacheco, Leme, No. 3 Claudio Montanha Jr. (-2,055.83), No. 4 Luciano de Castro (-2,246.66), No. 5 Cody Teel (-2,422.5), No. 6 Ramon de Lima (-2,481.66), Nance (-2,735.83), No. 8 Cooper Davis (-2,766.66) and Aparecido (2,916.67).
Pacheco and Leme both showed on Wednesday night they are ready for their showdown atop the standings.
Leme may have made the higher score, but it was Pacheco limping out of T-Mobile Arena with a gladiator-like performance.
“I know I can hurt it more and need surgery, but I have nothing to lose,” Pacheco concluded. “If I need to fix the knee, I can fix it later. There is nothing I can do. I am going to try.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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