USA Wrestling American Robby Smith...

American Robby Smith puts on show before falling just short of medal at World Championships

By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling | Sept. 08, 2015, 11:43 p.m. (ET)

Robby Smith turned in a courageous effort before just falling short of a bronze medal on Tuesday night at the World Championships. Tony Rotundo photo.

LAS VEGAS – Nobody is going to ever question the heart, fight and resolve of American Greco-Roman heavyweight Robby Smith.

Down seven points and one point from losing by technical fall, Smith fought back courageously and had the U.S. crowd on its feet before falling just short in his bronze-medal match at the World Championships.

Smith dropped a hard-fought 10-8 decision to three-time World freestyle champion Bilyal Makhov of Russia on Tuesday night at the Orleans Arena.

"It was a great match," Smith said. "I gave up points early and had to battle back. I had a great tournament. This is the best I've ever done. I showed the World I'm a battler. I proved a lot of people wrong."

Smith threw Makhov late in the first period and twice in the second period to draw within a point before ending up in fifth place at 130 kg/286 lbs.

American fans chanted “Robby, Robby” after Smith’s valiant comeback effort came up just short. Smith placed fifth in the World for the third time in the last three years.

The massive 6-foot-7 Makhov finished third in the World in Greco for the second straight year after switching styles. Makhov also is expected to compete at the Worlds in freestyle here later in the week.

Smith raised his arms in appreciation while walking off the mat and then off the main arena floor as fans stood and cheered.

"It was a brutal match to lose because it was for a medal," Smith said. "I don't give up, I don't give up. This crowd was awesome. They had me rolling. I wanted to wear him out in the second period. He blocked and stalled. I thought they would call passivity, but they didn't. I gave it everything I had."

Two-time World medalist Justin Lester started strong before falling one win short of the medal round. American teammates Spenser Mango and Patrick Martinez also reached the repechage round, but fell short of the medal round.

Smith overcame an early 4-0 deficit, hitting a series of front headlock turns before eventually pinning Uzbekistan’s Muminjon Abdullaev in the first round.

Smith followed by gutting out a 6-2 win over 2014 World fifth-place finisher Eduard Popp of Germany in the second round.

Smith then outlasted Murat Ramonov of Kyrgyzstan 1-1 in the quarterfinals. Smith then dropped an 8-0 semifinal decision to five-time World champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Mijain Lopez of Cuba.

By finishing the top six, Smith qualified his weight class of 130 kilos for the 2016 Olympic Games for the United States. The U.S. now has qualified for the Olympics in two classes after Andy Bisek won a World bronze medal here at 75 kg/165 lbs. on Monday.

Lester hit a pair of big throws to earn an 8-0 technical fall over World No. 3 Balint Korpasi of Hungary in the first round at 71 kg/156 lbs.

Lester rallied from an early 4-0 deficit, using a huge second period to outlast No. 8 Yunus Ozel of Turkey 8-6 in the second round.

Top-ranked and returning World bronze medalist Rasul Chunayev of Azerbaijan used a big second period to down Lester 9-0 in the quarters. Lester then dropped a wild 10-9 decision to Russia’s Adam Kurak in the repechage and fell one win short of the medal round.

Mango, fifth in the World the past two years, dropped a 4-2 decision to Cuba’s Ismael Borrero in the first round at 59 kg/130 lbs.

Mango beat Deniz Menekse of Germany 4-4 on criteria in his first repechage match.

Mango then dropped an 8-0 decision to Soslan Daurov of Belarus in his second repechage bout and was eliminated.

Martinez dropped a 4-2 first-round decision to Viktor Sasunkouski of Belarus at 80 kg/176 lbs.

Martinez downed Lithuania’s Julius Matuzevicius 5-0 in his first repechage bout. Martinez then was eliminated after a 4-0 loss to Askhat Dilmukhamedov of Kazakhstan in his second repechage bout.

Champions crowned on Tuesday included Borrero, Azerbaijan’s Rasul Chunayev, and Turkey’s Selcuk Cebi and Riza Kayaalp.

Cebi won his third World title and Kayaalp his second. Borrero and Chunayev won their first World titles.

Day 3 of the six-day World Championships is set for Wednesday in Las Vegas. American Jordan Holm will compete in Greco-Roman with women’s freestyle wrestlers Alyssa Lampe, Whitney Conder and Elena Pirozhkova also taking the mat for the U.S.

Pirozhkova is a World champion and four-time World medalist. Lampe is a two-time World medalist.

2015 World Championships
Sept. 7-12
Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Medal winners


59 kg/130 lbs.
Gold – Ismael Borrero (Cuba)
Silver – Rovshan Bayramov (Azerbaijan)
Bronze – Won Chol Yun (North Korea)
Bronze – Almat Kebispayev (Kazakhstan)

71 kg/156 lbs.
Gold – Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan)
Silver – Armen Vardanyan (Ukraine)
Bronze – Adam Kurak (Russia)
Bronze – Zakarias Tallroth (Sweden)

80 kg/176 lbs.
Gold – Selcuk Cebi (Turkey)
Silver – Viktor Sasunkouski (Belarus)
Bronze – Yousef Ghaderian (Iran)
Bronze – Lasha Gobadze (Georgia)

130 kg/286 lbs.
Gold – Riza Kayaalp (Turkey)
Silver – Mijain Lopez (Cuba)
Bronze – Oleksandr Chernetskyy (Ukraine)
Bronze – Bilyal Makhov (Russia)

Finals matchups

59 kg/130 lbs.
Ismael Borrero (Cuba) won by tech. fall over Rovshan Bayramov (Azerbaijan), 8-0

71 kg/156 lbs.
Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan) dec. Armen Vardanyan (Ukraine), 6-4

80 kg/176 lbs.
Selcuk Cebi (Turkey) dec. Viktor Sasunkouski (Belarus), 2-0

130 kg/286 lbs.
Riza Kayaalp (Turkey) dec. Mijain Lopez (Cuba), 1-0

U.S. results

59 kg/130 lbs. – Spenser Mango, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
LOSS Ismael Borrero (Cuba), 2-4
WIN Deniz Menekse (Germany), 4-4
LOSS Soslan Daurov (Belarus), 0-8

71 kg/156 lbs. – Justin Lester, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army) – 8th
WIN Balint Korpasi (Hungary), 8-0 tech. fall
WIN Yunus Ozel (Turkey), 8-6
LOSS Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan), 0-9
LOSS Adam Kurak (Russia), 9-10

80 kg/176 lbs. – Patrick Martinez, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
LOSS Viktor Sasunkouski (Belarus), 2-4
WIN Julius Matuzevicius (Lithuania), 5-0
LOSS Askhat Dilmukhamedov (Kazakhstan), 0-4

130 kg/286 lbs. – Robby Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) – 5th
WIN Muminjon Abdullaev (Uzbekistan), fall 5:50
WIN Eduard Popp (Germany), 6-2
WIN Murat Ramonov (Kyrgyzstan), 1-1
LOSS Mijain Lopez (Cuba), 0-8
LOSS Bilyal Makhov (Russia), 8-10