The bulls are back in town – and they’re bringing a bunch of strapping cowboys with them.
In the arena, the riders will battle it out atop the toughest bulls in the world, but here on PEOPLE.com, we’re pitting them against each other. Get to know a little bit about these top 25 bull riders in the most dangerous eight seconds in sports and let us know who you think is the sexiest of them all.
Scroll through the carousel above for more photos of our top five if you’re on a desktop or laptop computer.
A former world champion, Marchi (nicknamed “Hollywood” for his movie-star looks) fought and scraped his way through the 2012 season, only to come up just short of another gold buckle. And his year wasn’t without distractions: the Brazilian cowboy’s wife, Patricia, suffered major injuries in a rodeo accident. She’s since recovered, and this 30-year-old family man often gives shout-outs to his two young children on the PBR telecasts.
Snyder, 30, won readers’ hearts last year when he wed Jen Manna in a rustic, romantic celebration. His bride may sum up the Missouri man‘s appeal best: “He was the cutest thing I’d ever seen. I couldn’t get enough of that hat, that accent!” the new Mrs. Snyder told PEOPLE of first meeting her future husband. “I don’t think I’d ever met a cowboy before. But I just thought he was the bee’s knees.”
Newlywed and new dad Mauney, 25, made history in his sport last year after a broken hand nearly ended his season. Never one to sit out a competition, he did the nearly impossible and switched riding hands (riders use one hand to hold their bull rope while the other hand is raised in the air). PBR co-founder Ty Murray likened the move to a major league pitcher switching his throwing arm. Look for the now-healthy North Carolina cowboy to pick the toughest bulls and swing for the fences all season. “Anytime somebody tells me I can’t do something,” Mauney has said, “I’m gonna try everything I can to do it.”
In October, Alves became the first back-to-back PBR World Champion in history. “Every bull rider dreams of winning the world championship. To do it twice is very special,” says the 25-year-old Brazilian rider, who took home top honors in 2011 just after being crowned Rookie of the Year. But he’s managed to stay humble amid all the records he’s broken. “No one’s ever done this before and I didn’t think I could ever do it,” he said last fall. “From when I was little I never would have dreamed I could do this.”
After growing up in a ranching family, Duncan says he’s into everything about the lifestyle. “I love waking up in the morning, putting on my hat; I love everything about being a cowboy.” To keep in shape, the 25-year-old Texan focuses on stretching, core work and riding – both horses and bulls. After hip surgery sidelined him last year, Duncan is hoping to crack the top ranks of the sport.
Runners up: For their classic cowboy names alone, (other than Pistol, these are all their genuine given names), we’re granting these guys honorable mentions in the sexy race.
• Stormy Wing: The 23-year-old Texan, ranked 17th in the world, says his parents always planned to name their child Stormy, boy or girl.
• Pistol Robinson: “My dad called me Pistol, and rodeo buddies picked it up,” Robinson tells PEOPLE of his longtime nickname (his given name is Caleb). “I lived a double life. Caleb went to school, and Pistol was the bull rider.” He broke both legs in a wreck at last year’s New York City event, but after a year of grueling rehab, Robinson is eager to compete again.
• Ryan Dirteater: Thanks to his Native American heritage, this aptly named Oklahoma cowboy’s nickname is “Cherokee Kid.” He’s currently ranked 14th going into the 2013 season.
• Chase Outlaw: A rising star in the PBR, 20-year-old Outlaw’s style has been likened to that of newly-retired PBR great Chris Shivers.
The Monster Energy Invitational at Madison Square Garden airs Saturday at 10 p.m. ET and Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network. View the full event and TV schedule here.