UFC 231

UFC 231 card: Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight elites Max Holloway and Brian Ortega will collide this Saturday (Dec. 8, 2018) at UFC 231 inside Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Oh man, this is such a great fight, so let’s everyone cross their fingers that nothing terrible happens between now and showtime. Holloway is undefeated since 2013. To be more accurate, the Hawaiian has barely struggled since that time, winning 12 straight bouts, a majority of them finishes. Against the best in the world, Holloway has appeared a tier above and largely unfazed by their attempts to halt his rise. Ortega, meanwhile, is one of the most dynamic young fighters in the world, but his climb to the strap has been different. “T-City” routinely loses rounds and is forced to rally late in the fight, but his ridiculous penchant for sudden finishes more than makes up for his early struggles.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Record: 19-3
Key Wins: Jose Aldo (UFC 218, UFC 212), Anthony Pettis (UFC 206), Ricardo Lamas (UFC 199), Cub Swanson (UFC on FOX 15), Jeremy Stephens (UFC 194)
Key Losses: Conor McGregor (UFC Fight Night 26), Dennis Bermudez (UFC 160)
Keys to Victory: Holloway is a man who overwhelms opponents with stellar kickboxing technique and a nonstop pace. Holloway is great from both stances, strikes from range well, can fight moving backward, and just generally never allows his opponent to find their own rhythm.

Part of what makes this fight so interesting is that the two men involved are rather similar. It’s true that Holloway does not possess Ortega’s deadly jiu-jitsu — who else does? — but the 27 year old athletes otherwise share strategies. Both are some of the division’s biggest fighters, and they both use constant offense to break down opponents en route to the finish.

As such, my strategy for both men may be more similar than expected.

In Holloway’s case, I’d really love to see him commit to breaking down Ortega’s legs. Body shots are great too, but Ortega strikes like a boxer, and the best way to bother a boxer is the kick the hell out of his legs. In the past, Ortega has ignored low kicks and still managed to overwhelm foes, but Holloway can match his size better than most. The Hawaiian’s low kicks should do damage, and he’ll have 25 minutes to enjoy the effects.

Record: 14-0 (1)
Key Wins: Frankie Edgar (UFC 222), Cub Swanson (UFC Fight Night 123), Renato Moicano (UFC 214), Clay Guida (UFC 199), Thiago Tavares (UFC Fight Night 68)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Ortega is perhaps the sport’s sharpest opportunist. A powerful boxer with some of the nastiest jiu-jitsu around, Ortega’s entire style revolves around forcing his opponent to make a mistake and ruthlessly capitalizing. “T-City” has finished all six of his UFC victories.

While Holloway’s advice was to target the legs, Ortega should be punching to the body from the beginning. This is a pair of tough bastards who have never been knocked out: they should both be trying to break the other down rather than head hunt.

Ortega is not all that great at traditional takedowns, not great enough to double leg Holloway at any rate. However, this is where Ortega’s opportunism comes into play. He doesn’t have to score a takedown if he catches Holloway’s neck as he ducks out from the clinch or jumps on Holloway following a slip. Similarly, trying to catch a kick and throwing Holloway to his back could be a path to victory for the Californian athlete.

Two of the best Featherweights ever are going to throw down in an incredible title fight before they move to 155 pounds in the next couple years.

Holloway is an incredible champion. Frankly, I think he already has an argument as the most technically sound fighter on the roster. This will technically be just his second title defense, but Holloway has already cleared out a large portion of the division’s old guard. From here on out, it’s largely Holloway’s own generation of fighters — of which Ortega appears the most dangerous — and future prospects for the Hawaiian to contend with if he can remain healthy.

Turning Ortega away is a clear signal that the “Blessed Era” is here to stay, whether at 145- or 155-pounds.

Alternatively, Ortega seems to rise to the challenge each and every time. His last two opponents were the toughest of his career by far, and he finished them quicker than all the others. If he continues this trend and stops Holloway in the first half of the fight, it really says incredible things both about Ortega’s current skill set and his future potential.

For either man, there’s definite potential for a rematch in the near future after just one or two wins. In addition, both have spoken about moving to Lightweight, another option for these young greats.

At UFC 231, Max Holloway and Brian Ortega will compete for the Featherweight crown. Which man will leave with the strap?

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 231 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

Navy vs Army

Army-Navy game uniforms: The Big Red One vs. Bill the Goat

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Of all the traditions and pomp surrounding the Army-Navy game, one of the coolest parts of the annual matchup is the special uniforms both teams wear.

Army went with sleek, black uniforms with red accents for Saturday’s 119th iteration to honor the 1st Infantry Division, which was formed during World War I and was the first permanent division in the Army. The Black Knights are calling the Nike uniforms “Big Red One,” the nickname of the division so earned because the “1″ insignia on the shoulder sleeve “was twice the size of either the allied or German divisions on the Western Front,” according to Army. This year, of course, marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.Twitter Ads info and privacy
The matte black helmets, which feature a red “1″ on the front to mimic the shoulder patch on the division’s original helmets and have a World War I-era American flag (with 48 stars), are particularly slick. The uniforms also feature a kind of mythological-looking black lion on the shoulder in honor the first major American victory in World War I at the Battle of Cantigny — the 1st Division’s 28th Infantry was known as “the black lions of Cantigny.”

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[John Feinstein: Nothing in sports moves me like the Army-Navy game]

Navy chose a timeless inspiration this year in its mascot, Bill the Goat, and explained the design in an October news release.

“The Naval Academy appointed this goat the honorary mascot for the fourth-ever Army-Navy game, in which Navy beat Army in a momentous victory. To commemorate the win, the goat was appointed team mascot and became a valued symbol of the Navy football program,” the release said.

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It’s a clean look the Mids are sporting Saturday; Under Armour gave them classic white pants and a white jersey with blue and gold accents. The helmets, which are navy with a gold and white stripe, feature an intricate depiction of Bill the Goat, as do the gloves — a particularly snazzy hidden treat. One of the Navy’s mottos, ‘Don’t Give Up The Ship,” is stitched onto the bottom of the jerseys.

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Navy Athletics 
Navy has worn an alternate uniform in every Army-Navy game since 2014, when Under Armour became the school’s uniform supplier. Designs from past year’s include 2017′s Blue Angels-inspired get-up, which looked fabulous in last year’s game in the snow, 2014′s “Don’t Tread On Me” uniforms, and 2016′s throwback uniforms celebrating the Roger Staubach-led 1963 team.

Some of Army’s past include those that honored the 82nd Airborne Division in 2016 and last year’s white look honoring the 10th Mountain Division, dubbed “Climb to Glory.”

Lomachenko vs Pedraza

Watch Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Jose Pedraza: Fight time, live stream online, boxing on ESPN

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Big-time prizefighting returns on Saturday night with a unification bout featuring one of the pound-for-pound best boxers on the planet. WBA lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko will look to continue his rapid rise through the ranks and add to his lightweight title collection when he takes on WBO lightweight king Jose Pedraza.

Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) moved up to lightweight back in May and made an instant impact by defeating Jorge Linares via TKO in the 10th round to claim the WBA lightweight title, thus adding evidence to the theory that he could be the best pound-for-pound fighter competing today. A shoulder injury suffered in the title victory sidelined Lomachenko for a bit, but he was able to bounce back to the ring before the year comes to a close. Pedraza (25-1, 12 KOs), interestingly enough, also earned his championship in his last outing. The 29-year-old defeated Ray Beltran via unanimous decision in August to become the new WBO lightweight titleholder.

Below is all the information you need to catch Lomachenko vs. Pedraza on Saturday night.

Date: Saturday, Dec. 8
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Location: Madison Square Garden — New York City
Stream: WatchESPN app
Channel: ESPN

Lomachenko vs. Pedraza main card, odds

FAVORITE UNDERDOG WEIGHT CLASS
Vasiliy Lomachenko (c) -3500 Jose Pedraza (c) +1200 WBA and WBO lightweight titles
Isaac Dogboe (c) -800 Emanuel Navarrete +500

WBO junior featherweight title

Army vs Navy

Army vs Navy odds, line: 2018 college football picks and top predictions from model on 45-25 run Click Here To Watch Now

Army vs. Navy is one of the most-anticipated matchups in all of sports. College football fans from around the country will be glued into the Army-Navy game on Saturday, which is now in its 119th year. Last year, Army won 14-13 in a torrential snowstorm on a go-ahead touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw for its second straight win in the series. Prior to that, Navy had won 14 in a row. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET and the No. 22 Black Knights are 7.5-point favorites. The Over-Under for total projected points is 40 in the latest Army vs. Navy odds. With another chapter in a storied rivalry set to unfold, you’ll want to see the latest 2018 Army-Navy game picks and predictions from SportsLine’s advanced computer model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times, and those who have followed it have seen massive returns. Over the past three years, this proprietary computer model has generated a jaw-dropping $4,210 profit for $100 bettors on its top-rated point-spread picks.

The model made some huge calls during Championship Week, including nailing Ohio State (-16.5) against Northwestern and Oklahoma (-9.5) against Texas. And when it comes to all top-rated picks, the model has been red-hot, entering the 2018 college football bowl season on a blistering 45-25 run. Anybody who has followed it is way, way up.

The model has simulated every possible play for Army vs. Navy (stream live on fuboTV) 10,000 times. We can tell you it is leaning toward the over, but it has also locked in a strong against the spread pick that you can bank on nearly 60 percent of the time. You can only see it at SportsLine.

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The model has factored in that Army has been able to dominate their opponents with long, methodical drives this season.

The strength of Army’s offense is their option attack, which has allowed the Black Knights to extend drives. In fact, Army is averaging 7.48 plays per possession, well over a play more than any other team in the country. The average Army drive lasts over four minutes when no other school in the nation averages longer than three.

Navy boasts a similar offense, but the Midshipmen average 5.59 plays per possession and 2:49 per drive. Moreover, Army is 6-3 against the spread versus FBS teams this season and 4-1 ATS away from home.

Even though Army will retain the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy in a tie, the Black Knights have never won it in back-to-back years (Air Force won the trophy in 2016). As if this game needed any extra incentive, that should help make sure Navy is sharp.

Despite their lack of victories this season, the Midshipmen are still averaging 289 yards rushing per game and have found an explosive playmaker in Zach Abey. He’s accounted for six total touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving and one passing) in the last three weeks.

Navy has covered the spread in three straight games against Tulane, Tulsa, and Central Florida. They’re 4-3 against the spread as underdogs.

So, which side of the Army vs. Navy spread hits in nearly 60 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you need to be all over, all from the incredible computer model that’s up more than $4,200 over the past three years, and find out.

NFR Wrangler

 National Finals Rodeo Live: has tie-down roper readying hard in the practice pen

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NFR Wrangler

Cooper Martin of Alma, Kansas moved up in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association standings after the Fourth of July “Cowboy Christmas.” Shown winning the St. Paul, Oregon, Rodeo, worth $9,366, he was also victorious at the Cody, Wyoming, Stampede, pocketing $10,046. (Courtesy photo by Bill Lawless.)
NFR 2018 Live Stream Free Signup Game Tv

To be a world class roper, a cowboy must rope every day.

That’s exactly what Cooper Martin of Alma has been doing in preparation for his second Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Dec. 6 to 15.

Cooper Martin placed seventh in the tie-down roping standings of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He has qualified for his second NFR, Dec. 6 to 15. (Courtesy photo.)

“I’ve been to rodeos, jackpots and roping tie-down calves other days to keep in shape physically and mentally,” Martin said.

As the youngest contestant at last year’s National Finals, Martin won Round-4 and placed in several others to end up ninth in the world.

Competing in 92 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos around the country, Martin has qualified for the 2018 NFR in seventh place. He will again be the youngest cowboy in the tie-down lineup.

The 21-year-old, six-foot, 190-pound Wabaunsee County ranch native won $91,938 tying down calves during the past season.

From junior wins to being the youngest cowboy to win the United Rodeo Association in 2012, Martin has been dedicated. He spent his teenage years practicing rodeo skills.

While taking high school courses online, Martin said, “I liked to rope all day. Sometimes I’d rope and tie 100 calves a day. Other times, I might rope five or 10, and go to rodeos and roping jackpots every weekend.”

National High School Rodeo Association tie-down champion three years ago, Martin then worked on an associate’s degree from Hill College, Hillsboro, Texas. He won a reserve national calf roping title at the college finals during his freshman year.

Pressure of last year’s NFR qualification showed at the beginning of 2018 for Martin. It wasn’t until after the lucrative Fourth of July “Cowboy Christmas” run that Martin was among the Top 15.

That came because of some big wins over the holiday. Martin was victorious at the Cody, Wyoming, Stampede pocketing $10,046, and he won the St. Paul, Oregon, Rodeo, for $9,366.

Martin finished third in the average at the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott, Arizona, to earn $4,532.

Those winnings moved Martin into 13th place in the world standings enhancing his outlook for a second NFR qualification.

A big paycheck late in the season at Puyallup, Washington, and several other rodeo checks settled him at seventh in the standings going into the NFR.

To be a winner requires roping ability and a top horse. Martin credits his horse Payday for much of the success at last year’s NFR and early this season.

“Payday has really worked well for me, but he was injured during the summer,” Martin said. “I was fortunate to find another horse from Reese Riemer called Waterboy.

“The 16-year-old gelding and I clicked. He is the fastest horse I have ever swung a leg over,” Martin said.

“I purchased Waterboy from Reese in mid-August and he helped me finish off my season strong,” Martin credited. “Unfortunately, Waterboy recently sustained an injury and now he’s out of commission until February, too.”

With the NFR just weeks away, Martin feels fortunate to have leased Shooter to rope on at Las Vegas from his friend Cade Swor, a seven-time NFR qualifier.

“I’ve ridden Shooter at Pendleton and have been practicing on him the past few weeks,” Martin said. “Shooter is easier to ride than some horses, so I think he’ll work well for me at the finals. I’m very grateful for Cade helping me out when I needed it.”

Martin is on the road most of the time, but spends down time on the family ranch in Kansas or with his girlfriend, Samantha, and her family in Texas.

“I travelled with Reese Riemer from Stinnett, Texas, this year and it was awesome” Martin said.

Trading off driving, the cowboys lived in the Bloomer trailer. “Reese likes to cook,” Martin acknowledged, “so we had some good meals on the road, too. I don’t like fast food.”

“Reese and I help each other out in every way we can so both of us get the best runs possible. It’s pretty cool,” Martin said.

Riemer has qualified for the NFR in 11th place with $85,428.

“I prefer to travel on the ground, so I can ride my own horses,” Martin said. But, he did fly to Calgary, Canada, and Pendleton, Oregon, and borrowed other horses.

During the past season, Martin also won rodeos at Pleasant Grove, Utah; Belton, Texas; Meridian, Idaho; Abilene, Kansas; Lewiston, Montana; and Coeur D Alene, Idaho.

Anticipating his second National Finals Rodeo, Martin said, “I learned so much last year and am really excited to be competing there again.

“There is so much money paid in each go-round, that I will take it one calf at a time. Do my best on every calf and it’ll all work out in the end,” Martin insisted.

Thanksgiving Day was for relaxation, but Martin was back in the roping pen the day after. “I’ll be roping until Wednesday before the finals then give my body and horse a couple days rest,” he said.

With the 2019 PRCA season already underway, Martin has competed in three rodeos winning $5,600, including checks at the All-American Finals in Waco, Texas.

“Only 85 rodeos will count for NFR qualification next year,” Martin said. “I’ll be going to 20 rodeos before Reno, Nevada, and about everyone I can after that to do what I can to make another NFR.”

Martin credits his family and sponsors for helping him stay on the road. “I sure appreciate what everybody does for me,” he said.

Actually, success is quite simple, according to Cooper Martin. “I just have to keep trying to tie them down. If I do, I’ll get paid. If not, it’s my fault.”

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

 National Finals Rodeo Live: has tie-down roper readying hard in the practice pen

Click here To Watch LiveStream

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

Cooper Martin of Alma, Kansas moved up in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association standings after the Fourth of July “Cowboy Christmas.” Shown winning the St. Paul, Oregon, Rodeo, worth $9,366, he was also victorious at the Cody, Wyoming, Stampede, pocketing $10,046. (Courtesy photo by Bill Lawless.)
NFR 2018 Live Stream Free Signup Game Tv

To be a world class roper, a cowboy must rope every day.

That’s exactly what Cooper Martin of Alma has been doing in preparation for his second Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Dec. 6 to 15.

Cooper Martin placed seventh in the tie-down roping standings of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He has qualified for his second NFR, Dec. 6 to 15. (Courtesy photo.)

“I’ve been to rodeos, jackpots and roping tie-down calves other days to keep in shape physically and mentally,” Martin said.

As the youngest contestant at last year’s National Finals, Martin won Round-4 and placed in several others to end up ninth in the world.

Competing in 92 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos around the country, Martin has qualified for the 2018 NFR in seventh place. He will again be the youngest cowboy in the tie-down lineup.

The 21-year-old, six-foot, 190-pound Wabaunsee County ranch native won $91,938 tying down calves during the past season.

From junior wins to being the youngest cowboy to win the United Rodeo Association in 2012, Martin has been dedicated. He spent his teenage years practicing rodeo skills.

While taking high school courses online, Martin said, “I liked to rope all day. Sometimes I’d rope and tie 100 calves a day. Other times, I might rope five or 10, and go to rodeos and roping jackpots every weekend.”

National High School Rodeo Association tie-down champion three years ago, Martin then worked on an associate’s degree from Hill College, Hillsboro, Texas. He won a reserve national calf roping title at the college finals during his freshman year.

Pressure of last year’s NFR qualification showed at the beginning of 2018 for Martin. It wasn’t until after the lucrative Fourth of July “Cowboy Christmas” run that Martin was among the Top 15.

That came because of some big wins over the holiday. Martin was victorious at the Cody, Wyoming, Stampede pocketing $10,046, and he won the St. Paul, Oregon, Rodeo, for $9,366.

Martin finished third in the average at the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott, Arizona, to earn $4,532.

Those winnings moved Martin into 13th place in the world standings enhancing his outlook for a second NFR qualification.

A big paycheck late in the season at Puyallup, Washington, and several other rodeo checks settled him at seventh in the standings going into the NFR.

To be a winner requires roping ability and a top horse. Martin credits his horse Payday for much of the success at last year’s NFR and early this season.

“Payday has really worked well for me, but he was injured during the summer,” Martin said. “I was fortunate to find another horse from Reese Riemer called Waterboy.

“The 16-year-old gelding and I clicked. He is the fastest horse I have ever swung a leg over,” Martin said.

“I purchased Waterboy from Reese in mid-August and he helped me finish off my season strong,” Martin credited. “Unfortunately, Waterboy recently sustained an injury and now he’s out of commission until February, too.”

With the NFR just weeks away, Martin feels fortunate to have leased Shooter to rope on at Las Vegas from his friend Cade Swor, a seven-time NFR qualifier.

“I’ve ridden Shooter at Pendleton and have been practicing on him the past few weeks,” Martin said. “Shooter is easier to ride than some horses, so I think he’ll work well for me at the finals. I’m very grateful for Cade helping me out when I needed it.”

Martin is on the road most of the time, but spends down time on the family ranch in Kansas or with his girlfriend, Samantha, and her family in Texas.

“I travelled with Reese Riemer from Stinnett, Texas, this year and it was awesome” Martin said.

Trading off driving, the cowboys lived in the Bloomer trailer. “Reese likes to cook,” Martin acknowledged, “so we had some good meals on the road, too. I don’t like fast food.”

“Reese and I help each other out in every way we can so both of us get the best runs possible. It’s pretty cool,” Martin said.

Riemer has qualified for the NFR in 11th place with $85,428.

“I prefer to travel on the ground, so I can ride my own horses,” Martin said. But, he did fly to Calgary, Canada, and Pendleton, Oregon, and borrowed other horses.

During the past season, Martin also won rodeos at Pleasant Grove, Utah; Belton, Texas; Meridian, Idaho; Abilene, Kansas; Lewiston, Montana; and Coeur D Alene, Idaho.

Anticipating his second National Finals Rodeo, Martin said, “I learned so much last year and am really excited to be competing there again.

“There is so much money paid in each go-round, that I will take it one calf at a time. Do my best on every calf and it’ll all work out in the end,” Martin insisted.

Thanksgiving Day was for relaxation, but Martin was back in the roping pen the day after. “I’ll be roping until Wednesday before the finals then give my body and horse a couple days rest,” he said.

With the 2019 PRCA season already underway, Martin has competed in three rodeos winning $5,600, including checks at the All-American Finals in Waco, Texas.

“Only 85 rodeos will count for NFR qualification next year,” Martin said. “I’ll be going to 20 rodeos before Reno, Nevada, and about everyone I can after that to do what I can to make another NFR.”

Martin credits his family and sponsors for helping him stay on the road. “I sure appreciate what everybody does for me,” he said.

Actually, success is quite simple, according to Cooper Martin. “I just have to keep trying to tie them down. If I do, I’ll get paid. If not, it’s my fault.”

Wrangler NFR

Wrangler NFR The PRCA National Finals Rodeo is always a big deal, but the 2018 edition marks the semi-retirement of one of the best cowboys in the sport. 23-time world champion Trevor Brazile is stepping back from the rodeo after this event, so it’s probably his last chance to go for No. 24.

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Brazile finished in second place last year, losing out to his brother-in-law Tuf Cooper. This year will probably be his last year competing with NFR qualifying as the goal, so it’s also the last time we’ll see him on this stage.

Canadian Curtis Cassidy will also be a name to look out for. He finished sixth in the All-Around standings, so he’ll obviously seek to improve his status as well.

“I never want to count myself out, but with such a drastic change in the way I conduct my rodeo business, if I do ever make the Finals again it’ll be a bigger story than my retirement, because I’ll have gotten it done at just a handful of rodeos,” Brazile said, per Prorodeo.com. “The good news is that this is my decision, and I’m not being forced out because I’m hurt or too old.”

Here’s how you can catch one of Brazile’s last ride — both the United States and abroad. ProRodeoTV.com comes with a $79.99 annual subscription with the promo code NFRDEAL20.

Standard rodeo events include bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping (headers and heelers), saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, WPRA barrel racing and bull riding. It’s an exciting sport that requires patience, bravery, and just a pinch of insanity to perform well in. The champion is determined by season earnings. Every contestant will perform once every day. At the end of every round, there are two champions for every event. The best cumulative time/score will ultimately win the event.

CBS Sports Network provides the opportunity to watch the Wrangler NFR and other championships throughout the year. There’s always something on, and this event in particular promises to be riveting for a myriad of reasons. There’s an implicit danger to rodeos that makes them intriguing, and the next 10 days will be very interesting for this event.

NFR 2018

Former Cobbler O’Connell ready for NFR

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About as early as such matters come to mind, Rapid City bareback rider Shane O’Connell, knew what he wanted to do and where he wanted to be every year come December.

“No doubt. I guess I’ve wanted to make it to the National Finals Rodeo since I first knew about it when I was 5 or 6 years-old,” said the Rapid City Central grad on Tuesday while on the road to Las Vegas. “And now here I am, 22 years-old and finally getting my chance to go to Vegas with the big boys and ride for the gold buckle and the big money.”

A chance indeed as O’Connell will be a part of an elite field of 120 of rodeo’s top athletes competing for 10 million dollars in prize money when the 2018 edition of the NFR, the “World Series” of rodeo, kicks off a 10-day run on Thursday night at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.

A third year on the PRCA professional rodeo proved to be charm for the former Cobbler, though not without a few bumps, bruises, and necessary attitude adjustments along the way.

“It’s been long road for sure,” O’Connell said. “I’ve put in three hard, hard years to get where I’m at, and it took me about 300 head of the best bucking horses there is to get make the NFR. It took a lot of trying to get to this point. I’m not sure I was home more than a couple of days at a time this summer, and there were a couple of times when it got tough, that maybe I should have went home, but I hung in there and stuck it out. I’ve been waiting to make this drive to Vegas as an NFR competitor for a long time, so finally getting behind the wheel and doing it was special for sure.”

Holding down the 13th spot among the 15 bareback qualifiers, O’Connell is well aware that he will need to bring something special to the Thomas and Mack arena every night to have a shot at the $26,231 first-place payout available in each round.

“I have a long ways to go, that’s for sure. I’m a rookie stepping in with a pen full of veterans down here, so I’m going to have to have a little extra in my britches to make this happen,” O’Connell said while describing a talented 2018 field that includes two-time world champion and traveling partner Tim O’Connell (no relation). “And yeah, the thought of it has made it a little bit harder to sleep at night, and sometimes I get the chills thinking about it. I imagine it will get a little hectic down here, going with a little sleep and having to think on a dime, but I’m ready and can’t say I’m scared of it.”

A couple of South Dakota ladies complete the list of South Dakota qualifiers for the 2018 NFR as veteran Lisa Lockhart (Oelrichs) and Buffalo native, Jessica Routier, will be among the 15 barrel racers circling the cans at the Thomas and Mack.

And while Lockhart, a two-time reserve world champion, will be making her 12th consecutive appearance at the NFR, Routier, like O’Connell, will be making her initial NFR appearance, a fitting end to a 2018 campaign that has far exceeded her expectations.

A Women’s Professional Rodeo Association competitor since 2010, and a moderately successful one at that, Routier has a very busy lifestyle — a little more than most perhaps as Routier and husband Riley have five children. With a lengthy list of daily “to-do’s” on her schedule, Routier came into the year with a goal of earning a spot among the top 30 in WPRA world standings.

A solid performance at the Badlands Circuit Finals in October of 2018 coupled with an even better effort at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Florida, in April, led to a significant upgrade in year-end possibilities.

“With the circuit finals money counting and the RNCFR counting, that gave us an opportunity for Calgary, and that money counted, and it all worked out,” said Routier in a Rodeo News magazine interview. “I decided I might as well keep going fairly hard, and she’s (7 year-old mare, Missy) run great. It’s been a learning year, and I haven’t been out of the circuit a lot before this. But for the most part, everything has gone really well and it’s been an amazing year.”

Routier, currently eighth in world standings, will have her shot at padding the Christmas budget significantly with some good runs and a share of the 1.1 million dollars up for grabs in each event this year.

The exploits of South Dakota’s three competitors at the 2018 National Finals Rodeo can be followed each night (8 p.m., Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 15) on the CBS Sports Network.

NFR

NFR Rodeo 2018: Watch NFR Live on CBS Sports Network

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The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo begins on Thursday, and CBS Sports Network will be there for all of it. The 10-round event will go on from Dec. 7-16 in Las Vegas, Nevada and will feature the top 15 contestants in everything from bull riding to steer wrestling. Contestants are seeking $10 million in prize money at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Round 7 of Wrangler National Finals

Date: Wednesday, Dec. 13 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: Thomas & Mack Center — Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Live nightly on CBS Sports Network (Channel Finder) at 10 p.m. ET (nightly re-air at 1 a.m. ET)
Live streamCBSSN online (provider login required), on-demand encores 12 hours after airing at Pro Rodeo TV

Round 8 of Wrangler National Finals

Date: Thursday, Dec. 14 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: Thomas & Mack Center — Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Live nightly on CBS Sports Network (Channel Finder) at 10 p.m. ET (nightly re-air at 1 a.m. ET)
Live stream: CBSSN online (provider login required), on-demand encores 12 hours after airing at Pro Rodeo TV

Round 9 of Wrangler National Finals

Date: Friday, Dec. 15 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: Thomas & Mack Center — Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Live nightly on CBS Sports Network (Channel Finder) at 10 p.m. ET (nightly re-air at 1 a.m. ET)
Live stream: CBSSN online (provider login required), on-demand encores 12 hours after airing at Pro Rodeo TV

Round 10 of Wrangler National Finals

Date: Saturday, Dec. 16 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: Thomas & Mack Center — Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Live nightly on CBS Sports Network (Channel Finder) at 10 p.m. ET (nightly re-air at 1 a.m. ET)
Live stream: CBSSN online (provider login required), on-demand encores 12 hours after airing at Pro Rodeo TV

National Finals Rodeo 2018 Live Free Signup Round 2 Online Tv

Standard rodeo events include bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping (headers and heelers), saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, WPRA barrel racing and bull riding. It’s an exciting sport that requires patience, bravery, and just a pinch of insanity to perform well in. The champion is determined by season earnings. Every contestant will perform once every day. At the end of every round, there are two champions for every event. The best cumulative time/score will ultimately win the event.

CBS Sports Network provides the opportunity to watch the Wrangler NFR and other championships throughout the year. There’s always something on, and this event in particular promises to be riveting for a myriad of reasons. There’s an implicit danger to rodeos that makes them intriguing, and the next 10 days will be very interesting for this event.

National Finals Rodeo

NFR Rodeo 2018: Watch NFR Live on CBS Sports Network

Click Here To Watch Now

The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo begins on Thursday, and CBS Sports Network will be there for all of it. The 10-round event will go on from Dec. 7-16 in Las Vegas, Nevada and will feature the top 15 contestants in everything from bull riding to steer wrestling. Contestants are seeking $10 million in prize money at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Round 7 of Wrangler National Finals

Date: Wednesday, Dec. 13 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: Thomas & Mack Center — Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Live nightly on CBS Sports Network (Channel Finder) at 10 p.m. ET (nightly re-air at 1 a.m. ET)
Live stream: CBSSN online (provider login required), on-demand encores 12 hours after airing at Pro Rodeo TV

Round 8 of Wrangler National Finals

Date: Thursday, Dec. 14 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: Thomas & Mack Center — Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Live nightly on CBS Sports Network (Channel Finder) at 10 p.m. ET (nightly re-air at 1 a.m. ET)
Live stream: CBSSN online (provider login required), on-demand encores 12 hours after airing at Pro Rodeo TV

Round 9 of Wrangler National Finals

Date: Friday, Dec. 15 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: Thomas & Mack Center — Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Live nightly on CBS Sports Network (Channel Finder) at 10 p.m. ET (nightly re-air at 1 a.m. ET)
Live stream: CBSSN online (provider login required), on-demand encores 12 hours after airing at Pro Rodeo TV

Round 10 of Wrangler National Finals

Date: Saturday, Dec. 16 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: Thomas & Mack Center — Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Live nightly on CBS Sports Network (Channel Finder) at 10 p.m. ET (nightly re-air at 1 a.m. ET)
Live stream: CBSSN online (provider login required), on-demand encores 12 hours after airing at Pro Rodeo TV

National Finals Rodeo 2018 Live Free Signup Round 2 Online Tv

Standard rodeo events include bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping (headers and heelers), saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, WPRA barrel racing and bull riding. It’s an exciting sport that requires patience, bravery, and just a pinch of insanity to perform well in. The champion is determined by season earnings. Every contestant will perform once every day. At the end of every round, there are two champions for every event. The best cumulative time/score will ultimately win the event.

CBS Sports Network provides the opportunity to watch the Wrangler NFR and other championships throughout the year. There’s always something on, and this event in particular promises to be riveting for a myriad of reasons. There’s an implicit danger to rodeos that makes them intriguing, and the next 10 days will be very interesting for this event.