SYDNEY, Australia – Can 2010 World Champion Renato Nunes still do a backflip?
That was the question 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis asked Nunes this past weekend at the Sydney Global Cup, and the only way Davis and fans alike will be able to find out is at Chad Berger’s upcoming $100,000 Match of Champions.
Nunes is one of 15 champion bull riders invited to compete in a special event in Bismarck, North Dakota, this weekend at Berger’s annual PBR event at the Bismarck Civic Center.
Three-time PBR World Champion Silvano Alves
Two-time PBR World Champion J.B. Mauney
Four-time PRCA World Champion J.W. Harris
Four-time PRCA World Champion Sage Kimzey
2017 PBR World Champion Jess Lockwood
2016 PBR World Champion Cooper Davis
2012 PRCA World Champion Cody Teel
2011 PRCA World Champion Shane Proctor
2010 PBR World Champion Renato Nunes
2008 PBR World Champion Guilherme Marchi
2007 PRCA World Champion Wesley Silcox
2004 PBR World Champion Mike Lee
2017 Collegiate National Finals Rodeo Champion Cole Melancon
2017 IPRA World Champion Corey Bailey
2016 Indian National Finals Rodeo Champion Cody Jesus
Fans can watch the event, as well as the preceding Touring Pro Division event, exclusively on RidePass beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET.
“I know I can still ride some, but the backflip I don’t know,” Nunes said with the same infamous grin he had throughout his star-studded 10-year PBR career.
Nunes gave all the credit to Team Brazil’s victory at the Sydney Global Cup to his eight-rider squad, but don’t think Team Brazil’s head coach isn’t ready to spur one in Bismarck and get his own massive pay day.
The event winner on two-head will leave North Dakota with $50,000, while each round winner will earn $25,000.
The 36-year-old got on four practice bulls two months ago at a friend’s house, and he has plans this week to get on a few more practice bulls in Texas when he returns from Australia.
“I rode OK,” Nunes said. “Not really good, but OK. After that, I don’t have time to get on no more.”
He then added, “Yeah, it was really fun. It was different a little bit. I am not as fast. I am kind of slow to move. I rode three out of four. I have to find someone to load some bulls and get on to feel better. So I don’t do bad at that deal over there.”
Nunes has always been a competitor and used to thrive in his career when those doubted him or he felt like the odds were purposely put against him.
He hasn’t lost that edge either despite retiring two-and-a-half years ago.
Nunes praised Team Brazil for winning the Global Cup despite competing in a format he felt put his team at a disadvantage, and he would love to win the special format despite having been retired for the last two-and-a-half years.
The second rider in PBR history to win the world title and World Finals event average in the same season retired midway through the 2015 PBR World Finals.
Nunes ended his career with 308 qualified rides and a 44.25 percent riding average. He won 10 premier series events, posted 37 90-point rides and qualified for the World Finals 10 times.
“Any event you win is good,” Nunes said. “No matter the prize and stuff, but this event is very special because I would be out for two-and-a-half years and it will be really good if I win. I am 36 and still feeling good. I am not hurt or nothing. It is pretty hard to retire like I have and come back.
“Anyways, there is good money up there. Really good money.”
RELATED: Nunes recounts legendary career
Davis added, “He looks like he is in good shape, and he is always a fun guy to watch.”
Reigning PBR World Champion Jess Lockwood said he was excited to ride alongside Nunes for the first time.
“Everyone said he is hilarious like (Vieira), so it will be funny.”
Nunes originally gave Berger a firm no when the reigning Stock Contractor of the Year called him this winter with an invitation to compete in Bismarck.
The Buritama, Brazil, native has kept busy in retirement managing three ranches – two in Sao Paulo and one in Mato Grosso – with over 1,000-head of cattle.
“All of this is because of PBR,” Nunes said. “The money come from the PBR. The money I won in Brazil, I bought a house in (Sao Paulo). All the money that come from PBR. No question. All the money I won, PBR gave to me.”
Nunes has also begun to enhance his breeding program in Brazil with goals of becoming a stock contractor.
In fact, Berger helped Nunes get his stock contracting/breeding business going in Brazil, and Nunes has some calves that are out of the legendary Smackdown.
Nunes, though, felt like he owed it to Berger to come out of retirement for this event.
Berger was a huge influence in getting Nunes teamed up with Chris Pantani and Cooper Tires for a sponsorship deal in 2009 and became one of Nunes’ closest friends in the United States.
“When Chad texted me one time I said, ‘No. I don’t want to get on anymore.’ But he is a good friend of mine. He helped me a lot my whole career as a guy in the United States so that is why I have to do something for him.”
Nunes is the only retired champion competing in Bismarck.
Nunes made it clear that he doesn’t have any intentions of unretiring and making a full run at the 2018 PBR World Finals.
He will return to the luxuries of retirement after Bismarck.
“I do (miss it), but it is hard,” Nunes said. “When you make one decision you should never go back. No, I don’t want to come back full time. Only for special events like this. I think I am a little too old.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2018 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.