BILLINGS — It was only fitting Claudio Montanha Jr. won on Sunday afternoon.
Riding in the state that almost matches his name, the Brazilian bull rider had a stellar weekend to win the Professional Bull Riders Stanley Performance In Action Invitational.
The 28-year-old Montanha Jr. was second in the first two rounds and won the championship round with rides of 87, 86.25 and 89.5 points to pocket $41,089.
Bull riders compete on championship day at the Professional Bull Riders event at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark on Sunday. Claudio Montanha J…
“It’s kind of funny, I sign things and they see Montana,” said the winning bull rider through interpreter Paulo Crimber.
It was his second top-tier win of the season and more importantly, vaulted him to first place in the PBR world standings.
“It’s amazing,” Montanha Jr. of his weekend at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark. “Today, I won my second event and jumped to No. 1 in the world standings.
“It’s two big dreams come true.”
He becomes the fourth bull rider from Brazil to win Billings, joining Joao Ricardo Vieira (2013), Valdiron de Oliveira (2011) and Rogerio Ferreira (1998).
Reigning world champion Jess Lockwood placed 10th overall. The Montana bull rider scored 85 points in the first round, but was bucked off on his next three bulls, including the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night and the championship round.
Montanha Jr. led a 1-2-3 finish by Brazlian bull riders at the PBR’s longest, continuous event. He was followed by Kaique Pacheco ($18,097) and Alex Marcilio ($14,416). The bull riders from Brazil took four of the top five spots, with first-round winner Keyshawn Whitehorse, originally from Utah and now living in Texas, finishing fourth to break up the party.
Pacheco jumped from eighth to fourth in the standings, while Marcilio moved from 27th to 20th. After a slow start, Pacheco has covered 13 of his last 15 bulls. Whitehorse leads the PBR rookie of the year standings.
Montanha Jr., clinched his championship with 89.5 points aboard the familiar bull Catfish John. Montanha Jr., was 90 points aboard the same bull at Anaheim, California, earlier this year where he finished second overall.
“I knew he wasn’t easy to ride,” said Montanha Jr., who received a congratulatory nudge from Pacheco during his interview. “I knew I had to make everything right to pull this ride off. Everything worked out tonight.”
Montanha Jr., Pacheco and Marcilio were the only riders to post qualified rides in the championship round.
The Billings winner won his first PBR top-tier title at Duluth, Georgia, this past March and had been sporadic since then.
“I know with bull riding, sometimes stuff is going to happen,” Montanha Jr., said. “I just had to figure it out and keep moving forward.”
He visited friend and three-time PBR world champion Silvano Alves earlier this week before coming to Billings.
“He told me with the bulls I drew in the first two rounds, I should ride those bulls easily,” Montanha Jr., related. “When Silvano tells you something, it’s usually right. He knows so much about bull riding.”
Montanha Jr., put himself in title contention with 86.25 points on Blue Stone, his re-ride bull for the second round. Keyshawn Whitehorse rode the same bull, also during a re-ride, to win the first round on Friday night.
The Billings win gives Montanha Jr., a lead of 145 points in the PBR world standings over Ramon de Lima as the tour continues in Columbus, Ohio, next week.
“I have to just focus on my bulls one at a time and go for it until the end,” he said of pursuing the world title. “To get the win and be No. 1 in the world standings, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
NOTES: Sean Willingham won the second round with a ride of 86.5 points. Willingham last rode in Billings in 2015, suffering a broken neck. He announced at the start of 2018 this would be his last season in the PBR and was able to work his way up to the top level. SweetPro's Bruiser was selected the bull of the event for bucking off Montanha in 4.67 seconds in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. SweepPro Bruiser, the reigning bull of the year in the PBR and PRCA, was scored 46.25 points.