PUEBLO, Colo. – There is a hole in Derek Kolbaba’s pocket, and he has not forgotten about it.
The 22-year-old was easily on his way to a $40,000 payday aboard Cochise at Gene Owen and Jane Clark’s winner-take-all challenge in Vinita, Oklahoma, on June 16 before he realized he had slapped Cochise on the first jump coming out of the bucking chute.
If not for the slap, Kolbaba was about to make things simple aboard the World Champion contender bovine athlete.
Kolbaba would have won the $40,000 seeing as Stetson Lawrence and Ryan Dirteater were bucked off by Hedoo and Lester Gillis, respectively.
Kolbaba will get a chance to avenge his mistake on Saturday night during the 15/15 Bucking Battle at the Express Employment Professionals Classic, presented by Osage Casino & Hotel, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he squares off against Cochise again.
“Derek has to be pretty excited right now,” Owen said. “He rode him at Vinita, but Cochise jerked him down and he slapped him. It cost him an easy $40,000. He will be out looking for revenge.”
When informed of the rematch, Kolbaba responded, “Hell yes. Yeah. I rode him, but slapped him first jump.”
Fans can watch the 15/15 Bucking Battle Sunday on CBS national television at 1 p.m. ET.
Saturday night will be the third meeting between the two.
Kolbaba rode Cochise for 89.5 points last year to win the Little Rock, Arkansas, premier series event, but he was also bucked off in 1.35 seconds in Billings, Montana, a month later.
The Northwest cowboy has plans on making sure a slap or buckoff does not get in the way of a payday.
15/15 Bucking Battle Matchups
Ryan Dirteater vs. Seven Dust (40-3, PBR UTB)
Derek Kolbaba vs. Cochise (39-7, PBR UTB)$
Dakota Buttar vs. Hedoo (10-4, PBR UTB)
Fabiano Vieira vs. Smooth Over (10-4, PBR UTB)
Cody Teel vs. M.A.G.A. (1-0, PBR UTB)
Dener Barbosa vs. Hydrastar Slinger Jr. (39-3, PBR UTB)
Cooper Davis vs. Old Fort Days (4-0, PBR UTB)
Eduardo Aparecido vs. Hostage (1-0, PBR UTB)
Jess Lockwood vs. Canadian Mist (9-0, PBR UTB)*
Jose Vitor Leme vs. Heartbreak Kid (19-0, PBR UTB)
Luciano de Castro vs. Gangster’s Wildside (17-1, PBR UTB)
Cody Nance vs. Frequent Flyer (17-0, PBR UTB)*
Ramon de Lima vs. Wild Goose (10-3, PBR UTB)$
Claudio Montanha Jr. vs. Lester Gillis (30-4, PBR UTB)
Kaique Pacheco vs. Smooth Air (9-2, PBR UTB)
$Rider successfully has ridden the bull before
Cochise is 39-7 on the premier series, including 9-2 this year. He ended the first half with a career-high 45.5-point bull score for bucking off Keyshawn Whitehorse in 2.29 seconds at Last Cowboy Standing.
“He has been throwing everybody off so fast,” Owen said. “He doesn’t have really a roll, but he will kind of blow sideways a bit.”
However, Owen added that simply getting past the first few jumps doesn’t guarantee a qualified ride.
Both Cody Nance (7.47 seconds in Billings, Montana) and Colten Jesse (7.93 seconds at Iron Cowboy) were flung just before the 8-second mark this year.
Cochise arrives in Tulsa with back-to-back 45-point bull scores for the first time of his four-year premier series career.
Kolbaba spent the summer hitting the road hard as he tried to work himself into better riding shape after not getting surgery to repair his torn right ACL and MCL this spring.
It hasn’t been a great run with Kolbaba going only 6-for-22 (27.27 percent) in 10 PBR events, but Kolbaba’s 89.5-point ride on two-time World Champion SweetPro’s Brusier was one of the best of the summer break.
The ride earned Kolbaba the $50,000 victory at the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo and 120 world points.
“I feel good,” Kolbaba said in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “The knee deal is not bothering me at all. The brace feels like just another tool in the box you have to put on. I feel like I am riding good. There have been a few little mistakes that have got in the way. You have to keep going at them with aggression and it will work out in the end. It is all about getting that one (ride) down and keep lining them out.
Kolbaba also has taken the time this summer to hit a series of PRCA rodeos. He traveled primarily with his fiancée, Aymie – a schoolteacher – to PBR and PRCA events.
“It is kind of relaxing and a little different,” Kolbaba said. “I enjoy watching the other events. It’s been fun having her along too.”
Kolbaba finished third in Rifle, Colorado, last week with 86 points on Butler at an Xtreme Bulls event.
The Walla Walla, Washington, bull rider moved up 10 spots in the PBR world standings by earning 130 world points since July 19.
Kolbaba heads into the stretch run to the PBR World Finals ranked 15th in the world standings and is 2,010 points behind world leader Kaique Pacheco.
He opted to not get surgery on his knee so that he could try and pursue the 2018 World Championship after finishing runner-up in 2017.
With nine events remaining before the PBR World Finals, Kolbaba still has time to try and make up ground and get back into the race.
“That is the thing about this sport,” Kolbaba said. “There are a lot of dang things that can get your dang focus off the task at hand. It is not like it is all about yourself, but you have to be able to focus on what you have to do to get the job done. A lot of times that is not worrying about the other guys. It is about getting your bulls rode. That seems to work the best.
“I am ready to start going to those bull ridings and riding them rank bulls.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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