PUEBLO, Colo. – Robson Palermo has had tons of success in Las Vegas over the course of his 12-year career.
There was a time when Robson Palermo and the PBR World Finals used to be synonymous from 2009-2012.
However, the once unstoppable three-time World Finals event winner has been far from that dominant rider after multiple surgeries and injuries halted his momentum..
Palermo has only competed in six Built Ford Tough Series events this year and is ranked 110th in the world standings heading into this coming weekend’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals at the South Point Arena.
The 34-year-old is one of 25 riders in the 41-rider field that is currently on the outside looking in at qualifying for the 2017 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Matter of fact, Palermo had no intentions of even competing for the rest of the season until he was offered an injury exemption from the PBR’s Executive Competition Committee earlier this week.
“I am really happy for this opportunity,” he said. “I didn’t plan on going to the Finals this year, and I was planning on staying home. Me and my wife had planned different stuff. Then I got this phone call. God put that opportunity (here).”
Palermo will guarantee himself an 11th World Finals qualification if he finishes in the top-two of the event average during the three-day event.
“I am going to hope I can win the event,” Palermo said. “This is my plan. I know I have to win if I want to be at the Finals. This is a huge opportunity.”
Drain the Swamp awaits Palermo in Round 1 and has yet to be ridden in four outs.
Palermo is one of four veteran riders competing with exemptions from the PBR Executive Competition Committee – Tanner Byrne, Wallace de Oliveira and J.W. Harris.
The Rio Branco, Brazil, native is 32-for-57 (56.14 percent) with seven 90-point rides during his previous 10 trips to Las Vegas for the PBR World Finals, but he has bucked off nine consecutive bulls at the World Finals since riding Pawnbroker for 87.25 points to win the 2012 event.
This weekend will be Palermo’s first event since breaking his nose attempting to ride Pistol Pop at the Corpus Christi, Texas, Velocity Tour event two weeks ago.
The broken nose was the latest of a slew of injuries that have completely disrupted Palermo’s season.
Palermo dislocated his surgically repaired right shoulder multiple times this summer and will need another surgery at some point.
“(This summer) a bull was dragging me on the ground and it popped my shoulder out,” Palermo said. “I thought it would be good and I went to three more events and my shoulder would come out when I was riding the bull.”
“As long as my shoulder doesn’t come out during the rides I am good,” Palermo said in August. “If it comes out when I hit the ground, it will be OK. During the ride, I want my shoulder to stay on.”
Palermo said on Friday morning he was confident his shoulder would hold up OK at the Velocity Finals.
“I feel good,” Palermo said. “The shoulder is good. It is going to be alright this week.”
Palermo will need to channel his prior self if he hopes to ride at T-Mobile Arena next week.
Palermo’s 5-for-25 (20 percent) showing this year at all levels of competition is the worst of his career since only going 10-for-19 in 2013 before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.
Ever since being named head coach of Team Brazil for the upcoming Global Cup on Nov. 9-11 in Edmonton, Alberta, there have been questions swirling if this was the end of Palermo’s riding career.
Palermo understands why people have been asking him about retirement, but he laughed off any talk of hanging up his bull rope.
“No, no. you are going to see me for a long time,” Palermo said. “I have been training not just to be strong, but to not give up. I have been training my mind. I feel really good. I feel a little bit more strong and I don’t want to quit right now. I still feel like I have something to do.
“You will see me at the first event in New York City.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko