Moreira Carries Can-Am Into Championship Weekend With a Walk-Off Victory in Must-Win Situation Against Union Home Mortgage

Mauricio Moreira Mauricio Moreira Photo by

Mauricio Moreira crouched down on the back of the bucking chutes and peered below to see his opponent Skitso waiting for him.
Can-Am’s playoff aspirations were all on the 20-year-old’s shoulders. All Moreira had to do was ride Skitso and his team would be on its way to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on July 10 for Championship Weekend.
“I was just trying to stay calm and keep focused on this bull,” Moreira said Sunday afternoon with the help of Paulo Crimber translating. “I was thinking I just needed to do my job, nothing else. Ride my bull like I always do and see what happens.”

On the back of Skitso, Moreira was just as steely focused as he was staring down his opponent, and looked far from the second youngest bull rider competing in Division A of the Monster Energy Team Challenge, presented by U.S. Border Patrol.
Moreira took care of business by riding Skitso for 85.5 points to help Team Can-Am (3-3) clinch the final Division A playoff spot with a 173.50-172.75 victory over Team Union Home Mortgage (2-4) Sunday morning at the Pendleton Whisky Let ‘Er Buck Saloon at South Point Arena.
“Today, this victory will remain high in my memory because I have three great guys depending on me,” Moreira said. “Then on the other side, there were four great guys (for Team Union Home Mortgage) wondering if I would ride.
“I had to honor my captain for picking me. There was a lot of pressure on the table, and this is definitely something I will never forget.”
Moreira was the first draft pick of Team Can-Am Team Captain Fabiano Vieira last month. The 37-year-old has been serving as a mentor for Moreira since the Rookie of the Year contender moved from Brazil to the United States in January.
One of the key lessons Vieira has been stressing to Moreira is becoming mentally stronger.
Vieira, who used to ride with Moreira’s father, Redner, in Brazil, saw those conversations and lessons come full circle with Moreira carrying Vieira’s team to the postseason Sunday.
It was an A+ for Moreira as Vieira’s prodigy rose to the occasion in the ultimate must-ride situation. A buckoff against Skitso would have eliminated Can-Am and given the final playoff spot and victory to Union Home Mortgage.
“I believe in him,” Vieira said afterwards. “I believe in him. He needs to grow a little bit more, and in his head too, but he is riding really good right now. I try to help him focus on the mental side. It is all mental. He can be very good. He had two good bulls today.”
In a game separated by 0.75 points, Moreira single-handedly carried Team Can-Am to Championship Weekend in Sioux Falls.
Moreira was the only rider for Can-Am to reach the 8-second mark, with Vieira and Rafael dos Santos each going 0-for-2.  
Can-Am was in an early hole when Santos bucked off Yo Adrian! In 3.4 seconds to begin the game, and Mason Taylor countered for Union Home Mortgage with 86.25 points aboard The Tickler.
Vieira next bucked off Quid Pro Quo (5.01 seconds) before Moreira put Can-Am back into the lead with 88 points on Diamond Willow.
The advantage did not last long, though, as alternate Marcus Mast subbed in for Taylor and brought Union Home Mortgage back to life with a noteworthy 86.5 points on Bubba G.
Buckoffs again from Santos (3.3 seconds on Hitman), and Vieira (4.89 seconds on Love Shack), as well as from Union Home Mortgage’s Silvano Alves (2.8 seconds on Anthrax) and Luciano de Castro (3 seconds on Monkey Doo) put the game in Moreira’s hands.
“I grew up around a lot of older guys, and I grew up seeing this type of pressure,” Moreira said. “This helped me mature. Not that I am ready for any kind of pressure, I still have a lot to learn, and there will be many more pressure moments to come. But that kind of helps me right now stay calm for moments like this.”
Moreira first made a name of himself in the United States when he rode Big Black for a career-high 91.25 points in Duluth, Georgia, on March 15. He became the third youngest bull rider in PBR history to debut on the premier series when he competed at the Bad Boy Mowdown in Little Rock, Arkansas, a week earlier.
The No. 18-ranked bull rider in the world standings said he is excited to become more of a household name in the U.S., and help his team in the process.
“This ride today, and my ride on Big Black, are my favorites of my career,” Moreira said. “These rides at the highest level change my name, recognition-wise.”
The Monster Energy Team Challenge features 12 teams, and two Divisions (A & B). The Top 3 teams in each division, based upon win-loss record, qualify for Championship Weekend and a single-elimination tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on July 10-12 in front of fans.
Can-Am will be joining Division A champion Team Cooper Tires (6-0) and runner-up Team Las Vegas (4-2) in Sioux Falls.
Can-Am finished third in Division A based on its win-loss record, but its 11-for-36 performance in six games was the second-best among all teams.
“This is my team,” Vieira said. “Mauricio, Zeke (Ezekiel Mitchell) and Rafael have been good. I pick these guys because I believe in them.”
Moreira led the way for Can-Am by going 5-for-12, and he is third in the Built Ford Tough MVP race. Jose Vitor Leme is No. 1 in the MVP race with his 9-for-12 performance in Division A competition. The rider that wins the individual aggregate title at the Monster Energy Team Challenge will be named the MVP.
Leme and Cooper Tires have a first-round bye on July 10, while Can-Am will be facing the team that finishes second in Division B when the playoffs begin at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. Team Las Vegas will take on the team that finishes third in Division B.
Division B competition will be held on June 19-21 and 26-28.
“I am really, really happy right now knowing we have a chance to win a championship in a few weeks,” Moreira said. “I will go back home, stay healthy and get prepared. I know we haven’t done our best these last two weekends, but we will come back stronger in Sioux Falls.”

Professional Bull Riders - Team Challenge - Game 18
Las Vegas, NV, 2020

Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Event Aggregate-Event Points)

1. Mauricio Gula Moreira, 88-85.5-173.50
2. Marcus Mast, 0-86.5-86.50
3. Mason Taylor, 86.25-0-86.25
Fabiano Vieira, 0-0-0.00
Ezekiel Mitchell, 0-0-0.00
Silvano Alves, 0-0-0.00
Rafael Henrique dos Santos, 0-0-0.00
Luciano De Castro, 0-0-0.00

By Justin Felisko |