By Kacie Albert
FORT WORTH, Texas – Rafael Jose de Brito (Potirendaba, Brazil) etched his name in the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) history books this afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas, completing a come-from-behind surge in the standings to win the World Finals event and 2023 PBR World Championship.
The 31-year-old Brazilian, who arrived in America in the summer of 2022, became the first rider to ever win the world title and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season.
“I want to thank God for making this dream come true and for all He has done for me,” Brito said from the dirt as he hoisted three glittering buckles. “I put in the work. I rode bulls day after day. It’s a great thing to have my name next to champions like Adriano[Moraes], Guilherme [Marchi], Silvano [Alves], Kaique [Pacheco] and Jose [Vitor Leme]. I want to dedicate this to Kaique at home watching.”
Brito traveled to Dickies Arena for his career-first World Finals ranked No. 9 in the heated gold buckle battle but atop the race amongst first-year Unleash The Beast competitors.
While he failed to convert in the opening two rounds, upended by Top Dollar (Hookin’ W/DeHoff/VanCleave) in 2.41 seconds in Round 1 and Stone Cold Gangster (Universal Pro Rodeo/Rachel & Dustin Powell) in Round 2, Brito, who in 2022 signed as a free agent for the Texas Rattlers in the separate PBR Team Series, returned more determined and with newfound confidence in Round 3.
Tasked with Chiseled (Flinn/D&H Cattle Co.), Brito delivered the first 90-point ride of the 2023 PBR World Finals with a mammoth 90.5-point score.
The 8-second effort garnered Brito a crucial 89 Unleash The Beast points, propelling him from No. 9 to No. 7 in the standings, and he inched within 336 points of then No. 1 Kaique Pacheco (Itatiba, Brazil), who did not compete at the seven-day event due to injury.
While Round 4 did not go in Brito’s favor, as the Brazilian was bucked off in 2.05 seconds by Ricky Vaughn (D&H Cattle Co./Buck Cattle Co.), he rebounded in Round 5.
Conquering Time Bomb (Carr Pro Rodeo) for 89.25 points and tying for the second-best score of the night, Brito cracked the Top 5 in the World Championship battle. Garnering 46 Unleash The Beast points, he surged from No. 7 to No. 5 and was within 290 points of the No. 1 rank.
The score also allowed him to gain ground in the Rookie of the Year race, rising 209.67 points ahead of the then-second-place contender Daniel Keeping (Montague, Texas), who was shut out at the 2023 PBR World Finals.
Brito’s momentum continued to mount in Round 6 as he overtook the World Finals event lead courtesy of an 88.5-point ride atopShort Circuit (D&H Cattle/McWhorter) that netted another 46 points. While Brito remained No. 5 in the standings, he rose within 244 points of No. 1 Pacheco.
Brito also extended his lead atop the Rookie of the Year race, surging 276.5 points out in front of the new No. 2-ranked rider Wingson Henrique da Silva (Navirai, Brazil).
Silva was challenging Brito in the Rookie of the Year battle, as well as in the race for the World Finals event title and World Championship.
Before Championship Sunday, Brito and Silva were two of just six riders to have gone 3-for-6 at the World Finals. Silva’s three scores, logged consecutively in Rounds 3-5, led him to begin the final day of the individual season third on the World Finals event leaderboard, 4.75 points behind Brito, and No. 11 in the World Championship standings.
In Round 7, Brito elected to go head-to-head with Red Mosquito (Cord McCoy/Zach Muegge/McCoy Rodeo), while Silva architected a matchup between himself and Ivy League (Jane Clark/Gene Owen).
Both decisions proved fruitful as each rider made the 8, marked a matching 88.25 points, to tie for second in the round on the final day of the championship event.
Brito and Silva’s scores, coupled with key buckoffs from Dalton Kasel (Muleshoe, Texas), Dener Barbosa (Paulo de Faria, Brazil),Cooper Davis (Jasper, Texas) and Andrew Alvidrez (Seminole, Texas), made it a three-rider race entering the championship round.
The third contender, two-time PBR World Champion Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil), kept his title hopes alive in Round 7 when he delivered the second-best score, covering JAG Metals Grand Theft (D&H Cattle Co./Philip Elkins) for 90.25 points. The ride, which also avenged a buckoff from Round 2, earned Leme 49 Unleash The Beast points, briefly giving him the world No. 1 rank as he surpassed Pacheco by 9 points.
As the sixth man out in the championship round, Leme’s renewed hopes of victory were quickly extinguished as he was tossed by Canadian-born Yellowknife (Blake Sharp/Michael Floyd) in a swift 1.8 seconds.
Then it all came down to the final two outs of the season as Silva readied to take on Ricky Vaughn, while Brito found his name matched with World Champion Bull contender Flapjack’s (Parker/OK Corralis/Gordon/D&H Cattle).
While Silva was first out, the tension quickly mounted as he was awarded a re-ride when Ricky Vaughn stumbled. Silva’s third bull of the day, Hunting Trip (Dozier Cattle Co./Martinez Bucking Bulls), would be his final bovine athlete opponent of the season.
In a must-ride situation, Silva failed to convert, bucked off in 4.93 seconds.
Despite still needing to attempt his draw, Brito, who would inevitably be bucked off by Flapjack in 0.97 seconds, began to tear up atop the back of the chutes as Silva’s buckoff clinched a never-before-accomplished trifecta for Brito, as he won the World Finals to clinch the 2023 Rookie of the Year honor and 2023 PBR World Championship.
Brito concluded the World Championship race 287 points ahead of No. 2 Leme and, in the Rookie of the Year battle, 486.5 points ahead of runner-up Silva. On the World Finals event leaderboard, Brito edged second-place Silva by 4.75 points in the aggregate.
In addition to becoming the first rider to win all three titles in the same season, Brito is now just the eighth rider to capture both the World Championship and World Finals event win the same season, joining Daylon Swearingen (2022 – Piffard, New York), Leme (2021), Jess Lockwood (2019 – Volborg, Montana), Silvano Alves (2014 – Pilar do Sul Brazil), J.B. Mauney (2013 – Statesville, North Carolina), Renato Nunes (2010 – Buritama, Brazil) and Mike Lee (2004 – Decatur, Texas).
In the PBR’s 30-year history, Brito is the 21st different rider – and eighth Brazilian – to claim the PBR World Champion gold buckle. His title is the 13th time a rider from Brazil has won what’s been called the most difficult individual championship in professional sports.
Throughout 2023, Brito earned $1,586,514, including $1,390,500 for his career-first PBR World Championship and World Finals event win.
In the bull pen, Ridin Solo (Cord McCoy/Bill McCarty/McCoy Rodeo) defended his title, crowned the 2023 YETI PBR World Champion Bull and earning the accompanying $100,000 bonus.
The honor was bestowed upon the animal with the highest average bull score from their six highest-scored regular-season outs and two outs at the PBR World Finals.
Much like the race amongst the riders, the battle between the organization’s animal athletes was equally fierce. Ridin Solo began the World Finals ranked No. 2 in the world, 0.41 points behind regular-season leader Cool Whip (Julian/Staci Addison/D&H/Crooked W).
First bucking in Round 2, Ridin’ Solo tied Cool Whip for the No. 1 rank in the fierce title battle with a monstrous 46-point trip earned via his 5.9 seconds of work against Barbosa.
Following the outs, both Solo and Cool Whip, who was marked just 42.75 points for his 4.27-second buckoff of Boudreaux Campbell (Crockett, Texas), held a matching 45.61-point average.
The World Champion bull contenders then returned to the arena in Round 4.
Delivering what would ultimately be the second-best bull score at the 2023 PBR World Finals, Ridin’ Solo overtook sole ownership of the No. 1 rank.
Ridin’ Solo, matched up against Chase Outlaw (Hamburg, Arkansas), sent the charismatic Arkansas native to the ground in a swift 3.54 seconds, awarded a mammoth 46.5-point score.
The powerful animal athlete’s score, paired with Cool Whip’s uncharacteristic 44-point out during his 3.15-second buckoff of Tyler Manor (Portland, Indiana), allowed Ridin’ Solo to surge to the lead in the World Champion Bull race.
When the dust settled, with each bull having just one out remaining, Ridin’ Solo pulled 0.07 points ahead of the No. 2 bull. Cool Whip, meantime, plummeted in the standings to No. 4, 0.25 points behind No. 1 Ridin’ Solo.
During the round, UTZ BesTex Legend (Blake Sharp/Chris Utz/Carey Brothers) took a firm hold on the No. 2 rank in the standings. Legend was scored an impressive 46 points after he bested Aaron Williams (Pismo Beach, California) in a quick 1.56 seconds.
On Championship Sunday, Cool Whip was first out, bucking in Round 7. Despite tossing Koltin Hevalow (Smithville, Missouri) in 5.81 seconds, the powerful bull was marked just 43.75 points to eliminate him from the World Championship race. Cool Whip concluded the year with a 45.55-point world average, ranked No. 4 in the world.
Legend was next out, bucking second in the championship round. His 45-point, 3.24-second trip with Joao Lucas Campos (Porto Feliz, Brazil), however, was not enough to pass Ridin Solo. The trip led him to finish the year with a 45.63-point world average, tied for No. 2 alongside Flapjack.
Ridin’ Solo capped his season with a 45-point trip with Braidy Randolph (Jonestown, Pennsylvania).
The captivating bull defended his World Champion title with an impressive 45.70-point world average, finishing 0.07 points ahead of runners-up Legend and Flapjack.
Ridin’ Solo is now just the seventh animal athlete ever to win the honor in multiple seasons. He joins the elite club which includes two-time PBR World Champion Bulls Dillinger (Herrington Cattle Co.), Bones (Teague Bucking Bulls) and Smooth Operator (Dakota Rodeo/Julie Rosen/Clay Struve/Chad Berger), and three-time PBR World Champion Bulls Little Yellow Jacket (Berger/Teague/Taupin), Bushwacker (Julio Moreno Bucking Bulls) and SweetPro’s Bruiser (D&H Cattle Co./Buck Cattle Co.).
Ridin’ Solo was also named the YETI “Built for the Wild” Bull of the Finals, earning a $25,000 bonus, as the animal athlete who posted the top combined score across his three outs logged during the 2023 PBR World Finals.
Blake Sharp was crowned the 2023 PBR Stock Contractor of the Year. The honor was Sharp’s first, dethroning Chad Berger, who had won the award the past nine consecutive seasons.
Andrew Alvidrez (Seminole, Texas) earned the Lane Frost/Brent Thurman Award for the top-marked ride of the 2023 PBR World Finals: Unleash The Beast when he won Round 5 compliments of an unmatched 91.5-point ride atop Red Mosquito (Cord McCoy/Zach Muegge/McCoy Rodeo).
Pacheco won the Mason Lowe Award, presented annually to the bull rider who records the highest-scored ride during the PBR Unleash The Beast regular season. Pacheco earned the honor for his 93-point ride aboard Ricky Vaughn during the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Indianapolis, Indiana, in late January.
Nick Tetz (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) was awarded the Glen Keeley Award for the first time in his career. This award goes to the Canadian bull rider earning the most Unleash The Beast points during the season.
PBR RidePass on Pluto TV will offer re-airs and on-demand replays of every PBR Unleash The Beast event. PBR RidePass is available on desktops, laptops and mobile devices via www.pluto.tv. Click here for on-demand PBR programming.
Stay tuned to PBR.com for the latest news and results and be sure to follow the league on all social media platforms at @PBR.
PBR Unleash The Beast
PBR World Finals: Unleash The Beast
Dickies Arena – Fort Worth, Texas
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Round 4-Round 5-Round 6-Round 7-Round 8-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
- Rafael Jose de Brito, 0-0-90.5-0-89.25-88.5-88.25-0-356.50-783 Points.
- Wingson Henrique da Silva, 0-0-86-89.5-88-0-88.25-0-351.75-508 Points.
- Ramon de Lima, 87-0-88.75-0-0-88.25-0-0-264.00-370 Points.
- Braidy Randolph, 0-85.75-87.25-0-89.25-0-0-0-262.25-264 Points.
- Jesse Petri, 0-0-0-88.75-85.75-87.25-0-0-261.75-221 Points.
- Dawson Branton, 85-0-0-0-87.75-80-0-0-252.75-178 Points.
- Josh Frost, 0-0-0-0-86-0-90.5-74-250.50-271 Points.
- Jose Vitor Leme, 0-0-0-0-88.5-0-90.25-0-178.75-145 Points.
- Dener Barbosa, 85.75-0-0-0-0-90-0-0-175.75-155 Points.
- Boudreaux Campbell, 84.75-0-90.25-0-0-0-0-0-175.00-86 Points.
- Joao Lucas Campos, 85-0-0-89.5-0-0-0-0-174.50-103 Points.
- Colten Fritzlan, 0-86-86.75-0-0-0-0-0-172.75-72 Points.
- Andrew Alvidrez, 0-0-0-0-91.5-0-0-0-91.50-92 Points.
- Derek Kolbaba, 89.75-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-89.75-89.5 Points.
(tie). Austin Richardson, 0-89.75-0-0-0-0-0-0-89.75-89.5 Points.
- Dalton Kasel, 0-0-89-0-0-0-0-0-89.00-44 Points.
(tie). Flavio Zivieri, 0-0-0-0-89-0-0-0-89.00-40 Points.
(tie). Nick Tetz, 0-89-0-0-0-0-0-0-89.00-48 Points.
- João Ricardo Vieira, 88.5-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-88.50-48 Points.
(tie). Kyler Oliver, 0-0-0-0-0-88.5-0-0-88.50-46 Points.
(tie). Marcus Mast, 0-0-0-0-88.5-0-0-0-88.50-34 Points.
- Chase Dougherty, 88.25-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-88.25-44 Points.
- Cooper Davis, 0-0-88-0-0-0-0-0-88.00-34 Points.
(tie). Lucas Divino, 0-0-88-0-0-0-0-0-88.00-34 Points.
- Eduardo Aparecido, 0-0-0-0-0-87.75-0-0-87.75-36 Points.
(tie). Ezekiel Mitchell, 0-0-0-0-87.75-0-0-0-87.75-22 Points.
- Tate Pollmeier, 0-0-0-0-87.5-0-0-0-87.50-16 Points.
- Silvano Alves, 0-0-0-0-86.25-0-0-0-86.25-13 Points.
- Guilherme Valleiras, 0-0-0-0-84.75-0-0-0-84.75-10 Points.
(tie). Koltin Hevalow, 84.75-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-84.75-22 Points.
- Keyshawn Whitehorse, 0-0-0-0-0-84.5-0-0-84.50-28 Points.
- Brady Turgeon, 0-0-0-0-0-83.25-0-0-83.25-24 Points.
Kaique Pacheco, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Daniel Keeping, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Luciano De Castro, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Rafael Henrique dos Santos, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Mason Taylor, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Eli Vastbinder, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Manoelito de Souza Junior, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Marcelo Procopio Pereira, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Brady Oleson, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Jess Lockwood, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Wyatt Rogers, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Casey Roberts, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Bob Mitchell, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Chase Outlaw, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Dakota Louis, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Aaron Williams, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Vitor Losnake, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Tyler Manor, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Claudio Montanha Jr., 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
2023 PBR World Standings
(Place, Rider, Events, Wins, Top 5’s, Points, Total Winnings)
- Rafael Jose de Brito, 26, 2, 8, 1,338.00, $1,516,705.81
- Jose Vitor Leme, 16, 3, 10, 1,051.00, $304,781.67
- Kaique Pacheco, 25, 3, 10, 980.00, $254,512.67
- Wingson Henrique da Silva, 21, 0, 4, 851.50, $258,185.00
- Dalton Kasel, 22, 4, 8, 792.66, $181,355.67
- Dener Barbosa, 22, 2, 5, 780.83, $185,641.67
- Andrew Alvidrez, 26, 2, 5, 707.00, $176,951.67
- Boudreaux Campbell, 25, 0, 7, 686.66, $142,354.67
- Cooper Davis, 21, 2, 4, 679.50, $145,426.00
- Ramon de Lima, 16, 1, 3, 664.50, $182,653.33
- Eduardo Aparecido, 25, 1, 5, 631.50, $127,941.14
- Jesse Petri, 28, 1, 5, 624.00, $162,724.81
- Braidy Randolph, 18, 0, 3, 491.00, $123,182.67
- Daniel Keeping, 24, 2, 3, 434.33, $115,753.33
- João Ricardo Vieira, 21, 0, 4, 433.00, $81,444.33
- Tate Pollmeier, 21, 0, 4, 405.25, $71,652.81
- Keyshawn Whitehorse, 24, 0, 2, 371.25, $57,051.33
- Colten Fritzlan, 20, 1, 2, 340.66, $83,517.48
- Luciano De Castro, 16, 0, 3, 339.50, $55,814.67
- Kyler Oliver, 14, 0, 5, 329.00, $69,556.67
- Silvano Alves, 27, 0, 4, 327.00, $51,012.00
- Chase Dougherty, 13, 1, 1, 296.83, $80,626.67
- Josh Frost, 4, 0, 0, 287.50, $160,005.00
- Thiago Salgado, 14, 0, 3, 277.50, $36,385.00
- Rafael Henrique dos Santos, 22, 1, 2, 274.50, $51,403.67
- Mason Taylor, 16, 0, 1, 264.50, $37,848.00
- Derek Kolbaba, 18, 0, 1, 251.50, $65,188.33
- Austin Richardson, 12, 0, 2, 246.50, $69,828.67
- Ezekiel Mitchell, 23, 0, 1, 245.00, $31,365.14
- Eli Vastbinder, 23, 1, 2, 233.50, $63,726.00
- Dawson Branton, 9, 0, 0, 207.00, $41,241.67
- Lucas Divino, 5, 0, 3, 200.50, $36,989.14
- Guilherme Valleiras, 8, 1, 2, 197.00, $58,243.62
- Manoelito de Souza Junior, 24, 0, 1, 194.00, $24,513.00
- Marcelo Procopio Pereira, 14, 0, 1, 189.00, $20,813.33
- Koltin Hevalow, 24, 0, 0, 184.50, $21,196.33
- Marcus Mast, 18, 0, 0, 180.50, $26,245.00
- Brady Oleson, 11, 1, 1, 167.00, $49,880.33
- Sandro Batista, 13, 0, 2, 166.50, $21,514.67
- Brady Turgeon, 7, 0, 2, 160.00, $25,976.00
- Jess Lockwood, 4, 0, 2, 159.00, $37,375.67
- Wyatt Rogers, 22, 0, 0, 157.25, $19,745.95
- Flavio Zivieri, 14, 0, 2, 156.66, $37,732.67
- Casey Roberts, 12, 0, 1, 149.00, $33,136.00
- Bob Mitchell, 11, 0, 1, 135.00, $15,163.00