USA Wrestling World Championships ...

World Championships preview in Greco-Roman at 130 kg/286 lbs.

By Richard Immel USA Wrestling | Sept. 04, 2015, 1:18 p.m. (ET)

 Robby Smith at the 2015 Pan American Games.
Photo: Tony Rotundo,
VIDEO: No. 18 Robby Smith (USA) dec. Toby Erickson (USA) 5-0 at Greco-Roman World Team Trials

Date of competition: Tuesday, September 8

When the big men square off at the World Championships in Las Vegas, the road to 130 kg/286 lbs. gold will undoubtedly run through one of the most decorated wrestlers of all-time, Mijain Lopez of Cuba.

Lopez has amassed an astounding nine World and Olympic medals throughout his career, including two Olympic gold medals, five World gold medals and two World silver medals. He won the World title last year in Tashkent, Uzbekistan after taking the post-Olympic year off in 2013.

This season Lopez won both the Pan American Games and the Central American and Caribbean Games without breaking a sweat, further cementing his No. 1 World ranking.

The top challenger to Lopez is returning World silver medalist and 2015 European Games champion Riza Kayaalp of Turkey. Kayaalp is the last man to defeat Lopez in international competition dating back to the finals of the 2011 World Championships.

In addition to his World Championship in 2011, Kayaalp has earned three medals at the World Championships and was a bronze medalist at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He is currently undefeated since the loss in the World finals last year.

2013 World champion Heiki Nabi of Estonia will be a major player in Las Vegas. Currently sitting at No. 4 in the World, Nabi has amassed seven international competitions this season including earning five total medals throughout.

Nabi won the bronze medal at the World Championships last year and finished as runner-up to Lopez at the 2012 Olympic Games.

World No. 6 Beylal Makhov of Russia won the other bronze medal at the World Championships in Tashkent last September.

Makhov is a three-time World champion, World silver medalist and Olympic bronze medalist in freestyle wrestling, but has recently made the transition to the Greco-Roman circuit due to the highly decorated Russian Khadzhimurat Gatsalov moving up to heavyweight on the freestyle side.

If Makhov has developed his Greco-Roman skillset up to his freestyle standards he is a sure fire threat to Lopez and the rest of the 130 kg competitors come Las Vegas.

Olympic and World bronze medalist Johan Euren of Sweden will look to regain a spot on the medal stand in Las Vegas after finishing in seventh place at the World’s last year.

Currently ranked No. 3 in the World, Euren has won international gold at the Bill Farrell Memorial International, Brazil Cup and Nordic Championship this season.

Three-time World bronze medalist and World No. 5 Nurmakhan Tinaliev of Kazakhstan will be a major player at 130 kg in Tashkent.

Tinaliev has won the Asian Games, Dave Schultz Memorial International and Asian Championships this season. His lone slip up is a seventh place finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix in March.

The 35-year-old veteran Mindaugas Mizgaitis of Lithuania will look to capture his first World Championship medal in Las Vegas in what will be his 12th trip to the World’s.

Mizgaitis won his lone world level medal at the 2008 Olympic Games held in Beijing China, earning bronze. He also won the World Military Championships in October.

Hungarian youngster Balint Lam looks poised for his first World Championships medal run in Las Vegas.

Boasting a World ranking of No. 8, Lam earned a silver medal at the Hungarian Grand Prix and a bronze medal at the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup this season. He also wound up in fifth place at the European Games. Lam has won World titles at both the University and Junior levels.

The bearded wonder for the United States, Robby Smith comes into the World Championships ranked No. 18 in the World after a bronze medal performance in the Pan American Games.

Smith was a fifth place finisher at the 2013 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary and is appears in peak condition to make a serious medal run on U.S. soil.

The four World medalists from last year all own have World or Olympic title to their credit, meaning cracking the medal stand will be a tall challenge for all comers outside that elite group.

1. Mijain Lopez (Cuba)
2. Riza Kayaalp (Turkey)
3. Johan Euren (Sweden)
4. Heiki Nabi (Estonia)
5. Nurmakhan Tinaliev (Kazakhstan)
6. Beylal Makhov (Russia)
7. Qiang Meng (China)
8. Balint Lam (Hungary)
9. Sergey Semenov (Russia)
10. Sabah Shariati (Azerbaijan)
11. Christian John (Germany)
12. Bashir Asgari Babajanzadeh (Iran)
13. Ali Nail Arslan (Turkey)
14. Miloslav Metodiev (Bulgaria)
15. Behnam Mehdizadeh (Iran)
16. Iosif Chugoshvili (Belarus)
17. Yong-Min Kim (Korea)
18. Robert Smith (United States of America)
19. Kiril Grishchenko (Belarus)
20. Vitali Shchur (Russia)


2014 World Championships
130 kg/286 lbs. – Gold – Mijian Lopez (Cuba); Silver – Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); Bronze – Bilial Makhov (Russia); Bronze – Heiki Nabi (Estonia); 5th – Eduard Popp (Germany); 5th – Lyubomir Dimitrov (Bulgaria); 7th – Johan Euren (Sweden); 8th – Behram Mehdizadeh (Iran); 9th – Nurmakhan Tinaliyev (Kazakhstan); 10th – Iakovi Kajaia (Georgia)

2013 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Gold - Heiki Nabi (Estonia); Silver - Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); Bronze – Nurmakhan Tinalyev (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Johan Euren (Sweden); 5th - Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 5th - Robby Smith (USA); 7th - Eduard Popp (Germany); 8th - Radhouane Chebbi (Tunisia); 9th – Ramon Garcia (Dominican Republic); 10th - Sergei Andrusik (Russia)

2012 Olympic Games
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Gold - Mijian Lopez (Cuba); Silver - Heiki Nabi (Estonia); Bronze - Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); Bronze - Johan Euren (Sweden); 5th - Guram Pherselidze (Georgia); 5th - Iosif Chugoshvili (Belarus); 7th - Darzi Babanjanzadeh (Iran); 8th - Yuri Patrikeev (Armenia); 9th - Dremiel Byers (USA); 10th - Lukasz Banak (Poland)

2011 World Championships
120 kg/264.4 lbs. – Gold - Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); Silver - Mijain Lopez (Cuba); Bronze - Nurmakhan Tinaliyev (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Bashir Asgari Babanjazadeh Darzi (Iran); 5th - Mihály Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 5th - Lukasz Banak (Poland); 7th - Xenofon Koutsioumpas (Greece); 8th - Ivan Ivanov (Bulgaria); 9th - Yuri Patrikeev (Armenia); 10th - Aleksandr Anuchin (Russia)

2010 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Gold – Mijain Lopez (Cuba); Silver – Youri Patrikeev (Armenia); Bronze – Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); Bronze – Nurmakhan Tinaliev (Kazakhstan); 5th – Dremiel Byers (United States); 5th – Marek Svec (Czech Republic); 7th – Khassan Baroev (Russia); 8th – Lukasz Banak (Poland); 9th – Johan Magnus Euren (Sweden); 10th – Guram Pherselidze (Georgia)

2009 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Gold - Mijain Lopez (Cuba); Silver - Dremiel Byers (USA); Bronze - Jalmar Sjoeberg (Sweden); Bronze - Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); 5th - Nico Schmidt (Germany); 5th - Ioseb Chugoshvili (Belarus); 7th - Aleksandr Anunchin (Russia); 8th – Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 9th - Rafael Barreno (Venezuela); 10th - Marek Svec (Czech Republic)