What to Watch For: Swearingen Returns to MSG as World Champion

What to Watch For: Swearingen Returns to MSG as World Champion

By: James Youness

PUEBLO, Colorado — Historically, when the PBR kicked off its 30th anniversary celebrations this weekend, not many elite bull riders came from New York or the Northeast in general. Even fewer have won world titles, consistently dominated the competition, and expanded the sport into markets across the country through top touring successes.

These are just a few of the many reasons why the return of 2022 World Champion Daylon Swearingen to Madison Square Garden this weekend in hopes of a second straight world title means more than a typical event. For bullriding fans throughout the Empire State and Swearingen alike.

“It’s definitely growing, and that’s pretty cool. Just being a part of the sport and being from here helps,” Swearingen said in response to his hometown region’s growing admiration for the electrifying sport.

“When I turned 18, my goal was to be here (MSG), so it definitely has some sentimental value to me,” Swearingen said. “This is where one of my main goals started, to be touring on the first of the year, so that was pretty big.”

While much of the Piffard, New York native’s family was in attendance at last weekend’s PBR Albany Invitational to support the 23-year-old, that won’t stop his grandfather and aunt from witnessing the world champion at one of the pair enters the world’s most famous arenas when the Unleash The Beast Tour hits Madison Square Garden January 6-8.

“Yeah, it’s sort of my hometown event, although Albany is a bit closer (to Piffard) but this was the first PBR I’ve ever been to before riding and stuff so that’s pretty cool about it,” Swearingen told PBR.com.

“There’s just so much going on; a hockey game last night, the Knicks game tonight, just so many great things are happening in this arena.”

RELATED: The drivers enjoy two Madison Square Garden competitions before taking the stage themselves on Friday

Despite his atypical 1-in-8 (12.5%) start to the year, Swearingen is deadlocked and ready to hit the slides on Friday night after catching up on some mental work and riding a practice bull this week.

“I want this to be my best year yet, better than last year, all those years before,” said Swearingen.

“You just have to keep working. I will not become complacent. I got there, I’m just trying to work from it. I have to start making a difference, just have fun and have fun doing what I love to do.”

Swearingen took on Soul Train in Round 1, which he fended off in 4.45 seconds during Freedom Fest held in Oklahoma City last summer. Swearingen will be looking to get back into the ride column with an excellent performance which he has proved to be more than capable of keeping track of his entertaining career.


Two-time world champion Jose Vitor Leme, a fellow cowboy who enjoys his job and is fueled by championship ambitions, will make his 2023 Unleash The Beast debut on Friday in New York City. Following his 2022 PBR Team Series MVP Showcase, which earned the veteran a $50,000 bonus and bragging rights until the exciting new series returns for its second year this summer, the 25-year-old is stepping in this weekend a 6-on-13 into the action at Madison Square Garden.

Cole Melancon, Alisson de Souza and Alex Cerqueira, also making their debuts this season, will each make their 2023 Unleash The Beast debuts on Friday at Madison Square Garden.

With a few familiar faces reuniting with the field, let’s take a look at who will make the lineup this weekend in New York City:

Andrew Alvidrez
Cooper Davis
Daniel Hold
Rafael Jose de Brito
Mason Taylor
Thiago Salgado
Brady Oleson
Silvano Alve
Boudreaux Campbell
Keyshawn Whitehorse
Luciano de Castro
Dalton Kassel
Wingson Henrique da Silva
Jesse Petri
Colten Fritzlan
Marcelo Procopio Pereira
Braidy Randolph
Kaique Pacheco
Eduardo Aparecido
Manoelito de Souza Junior
chase outlaws
Casey Roberts
Koltin Hevalov
Derek Kolbaba
Junior Patrick Souza
Rafael Henrique dos Santos
Bob Mitchell
Tate Pollmeier
Joao Henrique Lucas
Eli Vastbinder
Dener Barbosa
Ezekiel Mitchell
Adriano Salgado
Daylon Swearingen
Joao Ricardo Vieira
Mauricio Gulla Moreira
Cole Melancon
Alisson de Souza
Ednei Caminhas
Taylor Allen
Alex Cerqueira

Sandro Batista
Briggs Madsen
Mark Mast
Vitor Losnake
Kyler Oliver
cabbage fisherman
Chase Dougherty
Clayton Sellars
Ednelio Almeida
Jess Lockwood


With Leme pulling back into the lineup just $2,000 from hitting the $5.5 million earnings mark, and ridin’ solo after his 2023 debut last weekend at Albany in a second UTB event in a row, Friday night’s first round will feature a combined 10 gold buckles, including two from Leme, three from Silvano Alves and one each from Swearingen, Ednei Caminhas, Kaique Pacheco and Cooper Davis.


World’s Hottest Rider doesn’t always sit at the top of the Unleash The Beast leaderboard, but that’s been the case for the past two weeks as Andrew Alvidrez has had an absolute crack. The Seminole, Texas native, who is already fast approaching the $100,000 earnings mark in just five events, is enjoying a career-best six-ride streak and will look to extend his points advantage over No. 2 Cooper Davis on Friday night during his Round 1 matchup against Express Lane, who is yet to compete in the Premier Series tour this year.


Boudreaux Campbell vs. American Gangster (2.54 seconds at the PBR Built Ford Tough Invitational in Glendale, Arizona)
Braidy Randolph vs. Miller Time (88.75 at the PBR St. Louis Invitational in St. Louis, Missouri)
Daylon Swearingen vs. Soul Train (4.45 seconds at Freedom Fest in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
Ednei Caminhas vs. Man Hater (2.09 seconds on Sunday’s PBR at Cowtown in Fort Worth, Texas)
Eduardo Aparecido vs. Tested’s Viper (88.75 points at Stampede Days in Nashville, Tennessee; 3.95 seconds at PBR St. Louis Invitational in St. Louis, Missouri)
Eli Vastbinder vs. Smooth Kat (4.47s at PBR Last Cowboy Standing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
Silvano Alves vs. Casper (6.48 seconds at the 2021 World Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada)


All the action from this weekend can be seen on RidePass on Pluto TV starting Friday, January 6th at 7:45pm ET and continues on Saturday, January 7th at 6:45pm ET on RidePass on Pluto TV, before it ends on Sunday, January 1, 8 a.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.

Fans can stay tuned to PBR.com and PBR social media channels all weekend for the latest results, wrecks, injuries and more as the world’s top bull riders compete in the PBR Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden Jan 6-8

Photo courtesy of Todd Brewer/Bull Stock Media

© 2022 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.

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