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World Championships preview in freestyle wrestling at 125 kg

By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling | Sept. 06, 2015, 4:17 a.m. (ET)

VIDEO: Zach Rey vs. Nick Gwiazdowski at U.S. World Team Trials

Date of competition: Saturday, Sept. 12

Turkey’s Taha Akgul broke through to capture his first World title in 2014 and he’s continued to excel this season.

Akgul is ranked No. 1 by United World Wrestling after earning a gold medal at the European Games this summer.

Akgul is a massive and powerful wrestler who is tough to match up against. He is definitely the favorite to repeat in a strong freestyle weight class at 125 kg/275 lbs.

The World Championships are set for Sept. 7-12 in Las Vegas.

Russian legend Khadshimourad Gatsalov also will be in the hunt to add another gold medal to his vast collection.

Gatsalov bumped up to heavyweight two years ago and earned a World title in 2013. He won a bronze medal at the 2014 Worlds.

Gatsalov now owns five World titles and an Olympic gold medal in his remarkable career.

Three-time World champion Beylal Makhov of Russia is ranked sixth, but he is listed as his country’s entry in Greco-Roman with Gatsalov listed as the entry in freestyle. Makhov won a World bronze medal in Greco last year.

Gatsalov reportedly has been hampered by an injury and Makhov could be the Russian entry in both freestyle and Greco-Roman in Las Vegas.

2011 World champion Alexei Shemarov of Belarus has wrestled well this season and he is ranked second. He placed second at the European Games this year. He is strong defensively and is adept at neutralizing his opponents.

Veteran Komeil Ghasemi of Iran has continued to excel in this weight class. He won a World silver medal last year and he is ranked fifth this year.

Iran actually has Parviz Hadi listed as its entry for Worlds at heavyweight. Hadi won the Takhti Cup in Iran this year. He is ranked ninth.

European Games bronze medalists Geno Petriashvili of Georgia and Jamalladin Magomedov of Azerbaijan are ranked 3-4 in the World at 125 kg. Petriashvili won a World bronze medal in 2013.

2013 World silver medalist Alen Zaseev of Ukraine is another wrestler you can’t overlook in this class.

American Zach Rey will take the mat for his first Senior World Championships after two-time World bronze medalist Tervel Dlagnev was sidelined with an injury.

Rey, who placed second behind Dlagnev at the U.S. World Team Trials, has excelled on the international level.

Rey turned in a strong performance to earn a gold medal at July’s Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada.

Rey is a very strong wrestler who is very strong defensively. If Rey can go to his offense a little bit more, he may surprise some people in Las Vegas.

He is a tough matchup for anyone and he is a tough, confident competitor. He is ranked 17th in the World.

UWW WORLD RANKINGS

125 kg/275 lbs.
1. Taha Akgul (Turkey)
2. Alexei Shemarov (Belarus)
3. Geno Petriashvili (Georgia)
4. Jamalladin Magomedov (Azerbaijan)
5. Komeil Ghasemi (Iran)
6. Beylal Makhov (Russia)
7. Muradin Kushkov (Russia)
8. David Modzmanashvili (Georgia)
9. Parviz Hadi (Iran)
10. Aiaal Lazarez (Kyrgyzstan)
11. Aleksader Khotsianivski (Ukraine)
12. Alen Zassev (Ukraine)
13. Levan Berianidze (Armenia)
14. Soslan Gagloev (Slovakia)
15. Khadshimourad Gatsalov (Russia)
16. Tervel Dlagnev (USA)
17. Zach Rey (USA)
18. Nick Matuhin (Germany)
19. Zhiwei Deng (China)
20. Giorgi Sakandelidze (Georgia)

RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS

2014 World Championships
125 kg/275 lbs. – Gold – Taha Akgul (Turkey); Silver – Komeil Ghasemi (Iran); Bronze – Tervel Dlagnev (USA); Bronze – Khadshimourad Gatsalov (Russia); 5th – Alexei Shemarov (Belarus); 5th – Oleksandr Khotsianivskyi (Ukraine); 7th – Chuluunbat Jargalsaikhan (Mongolia); 8th – Aslan Dzebisov (Azerbaijan); 9th – Nick Matuhin (Germany); 10th – Zhiwei Deng (China)

2013 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Gold – Khadshimourad Gatsalov (Russia); Silver – Alen Zaseev (Ukraine); Bronze – Geno Petriashvili (Georgia); Bronze – Taha Akgul (Turkey); 5th – Zhiwei Deng (China); 5th – Tervel Dlagnev (USA); 7th – Rares Chintoan (Romania); 8th – Jamaladdin Magomedov (Azerbaijan); 9th – Daniel Ligeti (Hungary); 10th – Komeil Ghasemi (Iran)

2012 Olympic Games
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Gold – Artur Taymazov (Uzbekistan); Silver – Davit Modzmanashvili (Georgia); Bronze – Komeil Ghasemi (Iran); Bronze – Beylal Makhov (Russia); 5th – Tervel Dlagnev (USA); 5th – Daulet Shabanbay (Kazakhstan); 7th – Chuluunbat Jargalsaikhan (Mongolia); 8th – Alexei Shemarov (Belarus); 9th – Taha Akgul (Turkey); 10th – Rares Chintoan (Romania)

2011 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Gold – Alexei Shemarov (Belarus); Silver – Beylal Makhov (Russia); Bronze – Jamaladdin Magomedov (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Davit Modzmanashvili (Georgia); 5th – Chuluunbat Jargalsaikhan (Mongolia); 5th – Tervel Dlagnev (USA); 7th – Fatih Cakiroglu (Turkey); 8th – Artur Taymazov (Uzbekistan); 9th – Ioannis Arzoumanidis (Greece); 10th – Fatjon Baro (Albania)

2010 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Gold – Beylal Makhov (Russia); Silver – Artur Taymazov (Uzbekistan); Bronze – Levan Berianidze (Georgia); Bronze – Ioannis Arzoumanidis (Greece); 5th – Daniel Ligeti (Hungary); 5th – Ali Isayev (Azerbaijan); 7th – Fardin Masoumi (Iran); 8th – Marid Mutalimov (Kazakhstan); 9th – Les Sigman (USA); 10th – Zhiwei Dong (China)

2009 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Gold – Beylal Makhov (Russia); Silver – Fardin Masoumi (Iran); Bronze – Ioannis Arzoumanidis (Greece); Bronze – Tervel Dlagnev (USA); 5th – Disney Rodriguez (Cuba); 5th – Alex Modebadze (Georgia); 7th – Bartomiej Bartnicki (Poland); 8th – Ali Isayev (Azerbaijan); 9th - Arjan Bhullar (Canada); 10th – Alexei Shemarov (Belarus)