GLENDALE, Ariz. – Alisson de Souza was walking off the shark cage inside Gila River Arena on Saturday night when his smile became even bigger.
Souza had just won the 15/15 Bucking Battle at the Ak-Chin Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, when he was told that his twin brother Alan de Souza had just won the Columbia, South Carolina, Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour event.
Once he was done signing autographs, Alisson pulled out his cell phone in the locker room and messaged his brother congratulations on WhatsApp.
“It is really good to see him getting in here and doing good,” Alisson said Sunday afternoon with the help of Paulo Crimber translating. “There is not much I can say about it, but he is getting closer to being an alternate here (on the Unleash The Beast).”
Alisson earned his first 15/15 Bucking Battle victory by riding Medicine Man for 89.75 points.
The score was a new career-high for Souza.
“Maybe for whoever is watching, it looked easy, but for me it was tough because I was a little behind,” Alisson said. “I had to give everything I got to keep with him and stay with him. I was a little behind, but it kind of helped me get a better score because it looked difficult.”
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride was extremely impressed by Souza’s ability to rebound when Medicine Man tried to give Souza a case of whiplash.
“Medicine Man had a day right here, and you want to watch Alisson’s head get snapped up right here. He is looking straight up at the lights, but this is how you recover from it,” McBride said on CBS Sports Network.
Two thousand miles away, Alan had ridden Pneu-Dart's Coal Miner for 87 points inside Colonial Life Arena to cap off his 2-for-2 winning performance. Alan began his night with 84.5 points on Podunk.
The identical twins are competing in the United States together for the first time.
Alisson first made the journey to North America last year and made his premier series debut within two months on April, 20, 2018, in Billings, Montana.
2018 was the first year that the Souzas were separated, and it was extremely hard on each of them. This was especially true for Alisson, who was in a foreign country away from his family.
The duo has yet to compete at the same event on American soil seeing as Alisson finished 2018 ranked 34th in the world standings.
Alisson – the 2018 Velocity Tour champion – is guaranteed five UTB events before being subject to the cutline.
However, the stout Brazilian is off to a strong start to 2019 and is ranked ninth in the world standings ahead of next weekend’s Sacramento Invitational.
Alisson is quickly cementing himself onto the Unleash The Beast following a slow transition to life in the United States last year.
He also went 2-for-3 in Glendale with 84.5-point rides on Nathan and Crazy Wolfy to finish the third Unleash The Beast event in 15th place.
Alisson trails world leader Jess Lockwood by 1,360 points.
He said that having Alan in the United States has had a huge impact on him. The two are roommates in Decatur, Texas, and flew over from Brazil on January 2.
“I believe so,” Alisson said. “It is one of the reasons.”
Alan may be joining his twin brother on the premier series very shortly. Alan earned 170 world points in South Carolina to move up to 24th in the world standings.
Alan has earned a Velocity Tour exemption at Iron Cowboy, presented by Ariat, in Los Angeles, and he still can move up the rankings before then. Alan is 4-for-8 in five non-premier series events.
He will be trying to duplicate his brother’s success on the Velocity Tour last year and parlay it into a spot on the Unleash The Beast.
“It is going to be awesome because we are going to be able to help each other see what we are doing wrong with our mistakes and just correct them like we used to in Brazil,” Alisson said of the possibility of Alan qualifying for the premier series.
The last time a pair of brothers qualified for the PBR World Finals was in 2008 (Adriano and Allan Moraes).
Alisson and Alan not only are identical twins but, according to Alisson, the two twins riding styles are also nearly identical.
It was not uncommon in Brazil for Alisson to be mistaken as Alan and vice versa when fans were watching a bull riding.
“Sometimes in Brazil, if we had a bull in one place that fit my brother, we could swap bulls (at the next event) and no one could tell the difference between us,” Alisson said.
Their similarities stem outside of the arena too, Alisson says.
They drink the same beverages. Listen to the same music. Play the same video games.
The Souzas are two peas in a pod.
“It is not one thing,” Alisson said. “We grew up together and lived together. What he likes, I like and what I like, he likes.”
When asked if there are any differences at all, Alisson became puzzled and struggled to think of anything.
Is one or the other a little bit messier?
“My brother is messy,” he said. “I am more organized.”
He then gave his brother the ultimate tip of the hat, though.
“He is the better bull rider,” Alisson concluded before nodding with affirmation.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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