PUEBLO, Colo. – 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis began to have trouble breathing on Saturday night when he had an allergic reaction to a shot he received to help ease the pain of his dislocated ribs prior to the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Milwaukee.
It was minor, but it was the latest setback in Davis’ uphill battle at trying to run down world leader Kaique Pacheco.
Davis, though, was still hopeful that his right rib costochondral dislocation from two weeks ago would not stop him from trying to make a late-season push at the 2018 World Championship.
The 24-year-old had just ridden Dusty’s Revenge for 88.25 points and the Round 1 victory at the Ariat Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, and he seemed poised for a run.
However, Davis could not capitalize in the 15/15 Bucking Battle or on Championship Sunday, bucking off The Hard Stuff (2.69 seconds) and Zamperini (2.35 seconds) in less than 3 seconds.
Davis’ right side was on fire, and he knew he was far from 100 percent.
Davis eventually decided to opt out of the championship round because of his rib injury following a discussion with the PBR’s on-site doctor, Dr. Tandy Freeman.
He then looked on as Pacheco took another crack at distancing himself from Davis in the World Championship race, riding both of his bulls on Sunday and earning his third victory in five weeks.
Pacheco’s recent run of dominance is only taking more wind out of Davis’ sails along with the Jasper, Texas, bull rider’s injury.
Davis has decided there is only one way for him to have any shot at somehow catching Pacheco, which he believes may be a long shot at this point, and that is by skipping the final two regular-season events and taking the next four weeks off in hopes of being as close to 100 percent as possible for the 2018 PBR World Finals.
“Kaique is riding really good right now,” Davis said on Tuesday morning. “The best chance I have right now is being healthy at the Finals. If I go the next two weeks, I am going to be beat up at the Finals, and that is not really a week you want to be beat up.”
Davis has fallen 2,304 points behind Pacheco with two regular-season events remaining until the 2018 PBR World Finals on Nov. 7-11 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The fourth-year pro is ranked sixth in the world standings.
Davis said he had already made the decision to take two weeks off prior to Pacheco winning Milwaukee.
“I didn’t put much thought into what Kaique was going to do because for me I want to be healthy going into the Finals,” Davis said. “That is my main goal right now. If I had to go to the next two weeks and be sore and keep taking a beating on those ribs, that is not going to do me any good for the Finals. That is my goal right now. Go win the Finals.”
Davis aggravated the injury during his 3.66-second buckoff against Humdinger in Austin on Sept. 28.
“I am not going to say it is worse, but the more you deal with it, the more you just expect it and the more you try to get away from it,” Davis said. “I don’t want to create habits of not riding like I should. I don’t want to pick my head up and get off. I don’t want to do that.”
He said the injury affects him more when bulls turn into his riding hand (right) vs. away.
“Regardless, it is not fun,” Davis added. “It is not broken ribs or anything like that. Torn cartilage right there where my chest and ribs meet is pretty tender”
Historically, any rider within 2,000 points of the world No. 1 ranking heading into the World Finals has a legitimate shot at the World Championship. One rider can earn a maximum of 3,300 world points at the 2018 PBR World Finals if they win every round and the event average.
There are only three riders now within that mark of Pacheco – No. 2 Claudio Montanha Jr (1,598.33), No. 3 Jose Vitor Leme (1,650) and No. 4 Luciano de Castro (1,874.16).
Davis could easily get back to within 2,000 points in the next two weeks, but he believes a World Finals victory would be his best option.
“There is a bunch of points there. I guess anything is possible,” Davis concluded. “Go win the Finals and I can’t complain. There is no telling. Points are points and I don’t know how that is going to fall. The Finals pays so much now that it would be kind of a dumb decision for me to not take care of myself and be healthy going into the Finals.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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