USA Wrestling Robby Smith reaches ...

Robby Smith reaches bronze medal match at World Championships

By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling | Sept. 08, 2015, 7:24 p.m. (ET)

Robby Smith advanced to the bronze-medal match on Tuesday at the World Championships. John Sachs photo.

LAS VEGAS – Robby Smith’s progression on the international level continues.

Smith turned in a strong performance to advance to the bronze-medal match at the World Championships on Tuesday at the Orleans Arena.

Smith will face three-time World freestyle champion Bilyal Makhov of Russia in the Greco-Roman bronze bout at 130 kg/286 lbs. on Tuesday night.

Smith was fifth in the 2013 Worlds. Makhov was third in the World in Greco last year after switching styles. Makhov also is expected to compete at the Worlds in freestyle here later in the week.

“I feel great – I’m having fun,” Smith said. “I had to grind some matches out and come back to win some matches. It’s been great having the home crowd behind me – the crowd’s been awesome all day. I’m having a great time.

“Now I need to come back tonight and get a bronze medal. I got the weight class qualified for the Olympics and now I need to go win a medal tonight.”

The medal matches are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday.

Two-time World medalist Justin Lester started strong before falling one win short of the medal round. American teammates Spenser Mango and Patrick Martinez 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 at 130 kg/286 lbs.

Smith followed by gutting out a 6-2 win over 2014 World fifth-place finisher Eduard Popp of Germany in the second round. Smith took a 4-2 first-period lead after Popp was called for a leg foul as Smith tried to turn him.

Smith then outlasted Murat Ramonov of Kyrgyzstan 1-1 in the quarterfinals. Smith scored a second-period passivity point and won the bout by virtue of scoring last.

Smith then dropped an 8-0 semifinal decision to five-time World champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Mijain Lopez of Cuba. The powerful Lopez hit four straight gut wrenches to finish the match midway through the first period.

Smith has clinched a top-five finish and has 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. Lester hit a big four-point move and then tacked on four more points with an aggressive attack.

Top-ranked and returning World bronze medalist Rasul Chunayev of Azerbaijan used a big second period to down Lester 9-0 in the quarters. The match was tied 0-0 at the break before Chunayev hit a big five-point move to take control.

Chunayev beat Lester 9-7 in the second round of the 2014 Worlds.

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. Lester tossed Kurak to his back with a spectacular throw and had the Russian flat on his back for at least two seconds late in the first period, but a fall was not called.

"I just wanted to have fun and get on that medal stand again," Lester said. "I tried to do my best and put points on the board. I had fun and I hope the crowd enjoyed my matches."

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 had defeated Borrero at the Pan American Games in July.

Mango was pulled back into the repechage after Berrero reached the finals. 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. Mango placed fifth at the 2013 and 2014 Worlds.

"I tried my hardest, but I wasn't able to do it," Mango said. "You always need to be ready and I got caught flat-footed. It's tough to come back when you fall behind early in matches."

Martinez dropped a 4-2 first-round decision to Viktor Sasunkouski of Belarus at 80 kg/176 lbs. Martinez was thrown for four points early in the match.

Sasunkouski advanced to the finals to pull Martinez back in for the repechage. 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.

“I’m improving and that’s a good sign,” Martinez said. “I wanted to leave here with a medal. Not accomplishing that goal is going to drive me next year and in the years to come.”

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

Finals matchups

59 kg/130 lbs.
Rovshan Bayramov (Azerbaijan) vs. Ismael Borrero (Cuba)

71 kg/156 lbs.
Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan) vs. Armen Vardanyan (Ukraine)

80 kg/176 lbs.
Viktor Sasunkouski (Belarus) vs. Selcuk Cebi (Turkey)

130 kg/286 lbs.
Mijain Lopez (Cuba) vs. Riza Kayaalp (Turkey)

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)
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)
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
vs. Bilyal Makhov (Russia) in bronze-medal match