(Editor's note: Story by Justin Felisko/PBR)
PUEBLO, Colo. - Two-time World Champion Jess Lockwood will undergo surgery Friday after breaking his jaw this past weekend at the PBR Monster Energy Invitational in Ocala, Florida.
The Montana cowboy underwent X-rays Monday in Dallas, which confirmed the injury from his 2.75-second buckoff against Detroit Lean during the opening round of the 2021 premier series season.
Lockwood told PBR.com via text message Tuesday morning that he expects to be back in time for the Unleash The Beast: American Roots Edition events in Texas. He will not need to get his jaw wired completely shut.
“No surgery until Friday, but only getting braces and rubber bands,” Lockwood said. “I’ll be back for the Texas events.”
The UTB series heads to Del Rio, Texas, on Feb. 13-14 for the PBR Del Rio Invitational. The UTB then goes to Pecos, Texas, on Feb. 20-21 and Longview, Texas, on Feb. 27-28.
Lockwood is expected to challenge for the 2021 World Championship, and that will remain the same even if he misses the next two premier series events in Florida. This broken jaw is a minor hiccup compared to the roadblock he faced last year with a career-threatening left hamstring tear and six-month recovery.
“At least this one isn’t a physical therapy and rehab type of injury,” Lockwood said Sunday in Ocala. “Just get it fixed and give it a little bit of time.
“That is one thing you can’t beat in bull riding – getting hurt and injuries. Last year, (the hamstring) held me out until September, and it was 90% of the season, and I came back and got hurt again (with my shoulder). It wasn’t that I wasn’t focused and putting the time and effort in. It was just a bad year of injuries and luck. I couldn’t do anything in that but let myself heal up and let my body rest.”
There is no question that Lockwood is one of the best bull riders in the world, and he has proven year after year that he can be in the upper echelon even if he must miss events.
In 2019, Lockwood put forth the best season of his career in only 18 Unleash The Beast events. He went a career-high 44-for-65 (67.69%) with five event wins and a PBR-record four 15/15 Bucking Battle victories. He also set a PBR single-season record for earnings with $1,873,731.80 at all levels of competition.
Lockwood’s 14 90-point rides was the fourth-most all-time in one single season.
The Volborg, Montana, bull rider’s 2017 gold buckle season saw him limited to just 20 events. His title chances seemed bleak when he was laid up in a Long Island hospital after breaking four ribs, puncturing a lung, and lacerating a kidney at the fifth to final event of the regular season in Uniondale, New York.
Lockwood, who tore his groin when he was the No. 1 bull rider in the world that year at Iron Cowboy, returned two weeks ahead of schedule from his broken ribs that season, bucking off all four of his bulls before the 2017 PBR Finals Week. He eventually got things rolling at the Velocity Tour Finals (3-for-3) before ripping off a PBR-record three consecutive round wins to begin the Finals and ultimately win the World Championship.
Coincidentally, Lockwood never regained the world No. 1 ranking after tearing his groin until he won Round 2 of the World Finals with 89.75 points on Breaking Bad.
Therefore, don’t expect Lockwood, who is still the youngest two-time champion in PBR history despite missing 36 premier series events, to panic one bit over his broken jaw.
He has proven time and time again his ability to bounce back, and he says it is the mentality you must have to be a bull rider.
“I’ve missed about a season and a half, but it is what is going to come with the sport, the injuries,” Lockwood said in Ocala before getting hurt. “I can’t do anything but rehab and do whatever it takes to get myself fully healed and back to my ability before the injury. It is just something you take with bull riding, and the victories.”