LAS VEGAS – The No. 1 bull rider in the world is severely injured, but Kaique Pacheco is committed to doing all he can to not let torn ligaments in his left knee prevent him from winning the 2018 World Championship.
Dr. Tandy Freeman confirmed Tuesday that an MRI on Monday afternoon revealed Pacheco tore his left MCL and PCL during his 7.9-second buckoff against Fly Over in Round 2 of the 2018 Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals on Saturday night.
According to Freeman, Pacheco has “high-grade partial tears of the PCL and MCL,” as well as lesser groin injuries.
“Kaique has high grade partial tears of the posterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament of his left knee along with lesser injuries to his adductor magnus, medial retinaculum, and medial patellofemoral ligament,” Freeman said via email.
Freeman added that the recommended treatment for these kind of injuries would be bracing and physical therapy for 12 weeks before returning to competition.
Regardless of how much pain he may be in, Pacheco has confirmed he will be riding at the PBR World Finals this week.
Pacheco said Tuesday morning he would be riding at the Finals regardless of what the MRI showed, and Freeman confirmed Pacheco is choosing to compete.
Pacheco was unavailable for comment following his appointment with Freeman.
Rich Blyn and the PBR Sports Medicine team are working toward getting Pacheco a knee brace in time for Round 1 on Wednesday night. Pacheco will also have his knee taped by the PBR Sports Medicine team.
Pacheco is risking further injury to his knee by electing to compete and chase the World Championship.
Freeman explained that Pacheco can potentially do more damage to his knee by competing. If so, Pacheco may need to undergo reconstructive knee surgery and would be out for six to eight months.
Pacheco said this weekend that he understands injuries are part of the sport.
“You know that this can happen at any time,” Pacheco said at the South Point Hotel Casino & Spa. “It’s part of life, part of riding. This can happen at any time at all during the year and your career.”
Pacheco has never been as close to winning a World Championship as he is currently.
The perennial world title contender leads No. 2 Jose Vitor Leme by 1,535 points heading into Round 1 on Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Leme said he understands it is a tough situation for his opponent.
“It is really sad,” Leme said with the help of Paulo Crimber translating. “I had a knee injury that kept me out for three weeks. That was not fun. Especially in Kaique’s position right now. He is No. 1 in the race. I am sure he is sad, but really focused too. God has a plan and whoever is going to win is going to win. I don’t think it is going to change much.
“I am going to ride and be focused the same way as if he was not hurt at all. I just feel bad for him, but I think he will be alright.”
Pacheco has the largest lead of any bull rider heading into the World Finals in the current points system (2015). One bull rider, though, can earn a maximum of 3,300 points at the Finals. Leme – the 2017 PBR World Finals event winner – earned 2,532.5 points last year with his perfect 6-for-6 showing.
Fans can watch the World Finals on CBS Sports Network at 9:30 p.m. ET. RidePass will also have supplementary coverage beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Pacheco is 40-for-79 (50.63 percent) with a PBR-high five event wins and three 15/15 Bucking Battle victories.
It has been clear over the last three days that Pacheco is nowhere near 100 percent.
Pacheco attended the Monday afternoon rider check-in at the Park MGM hotel in Las Vegas, and the 2015 Rookie of the Year gingerly walked around the room and eventually left early to get the MRI done.
The 24-year-old hobbled his way around the room as he picked up various gifts and items for qualifying for his fourth PBR World Finals.
On Tuesday, Pacheco continued to struggle walking around the hotel, but did say he was receiving treatment from the Fit-N-Wise sports team, as well as the PBR sports medicine team.
“I am icing my knee and my knee is taped,” Pacheco said before meeting with Freeman. “I am training.”
2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi was in the hunt for a second world title in 2015 when he tore his left PCL/MCL in Thackerville, Oklahoma. He then tore his MCL at the PBR World Finals.
Marchi says he feels for Pacheco, who is like a son to him.
“I talk to him about putting a brace on and to try and not to think too much about it, but it is hard,” Marchi said. “You feel it when you grab your spurs, it is a sharp pain. You do not have a grip. I then left the third round at the Finals because I was going to hurt it more. You can tape it, you can wear a brace, but the pain – there is nothing you can do.
“He is very tough, but this situation is going to hurt him. He has been strong all year long.”
Pacheco’s knee injury will be front and center now as he prepares to face Rugby (0-0, PBR UTB) in Round 1. Derek Kolbaba was awarded a re-ride in Rugby’s only premier series out.
Leme has drawn Full Count (0-0, PBR UTB) for Round 1.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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