Cox and Dlagnev qualify for bronze medal match at Olympic Games

By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling | Aug. 20, 2016, 12:40 p.m. (ET)
 J'den Cox (USA) in the 86 kg Olympic semifinals.
Photo: John Sachs,
RIO DE JANEIRO – Americans J’den Cox and Tervel Dlagnev both won two matches in the opening session of men’s freestyle on Saturday and qualified for bronze medal matches at the Olympic Games.

Both Cox and Dlagnev suffered gutting defeats in the semifinal round to world-class competitors.

Standing opposite Cox in the 86 kg semifinals was two-time World medalist and World No. 4 Selim Yasar of Turkey. Yasar scored the only point in the first period courtesy of a shot clock violation. Cox got on the board with a step out early in the second, but trailed on criteria, 1-1. After several flurries, that is how the match would end. A lost challenge after the final whistle by the U.S. corner gave Yasar a 2-1 decision.

“I thought I was winning. I didn’t know until the coach told me afterwards that I was down. I am not placing blame anywhere, there is no place to put blame. If I score more points, I win the match. I learned a valuable lesson today. It’s all good. I’ll figure it out. I have another match to get ready for. That is what I am looking forward to,” said Cox.

To make the semifinal round, Cox picked up solid wins over Amarhajy Mahamedau of Belarus and 2015 World bronze medalist Alireza Karimimachiani of Iran.

“Failure is always going to happen,” Cox continued. “It is a part of life. Failure happens all the time, disappointment is lingering. I don’t have time for that. I have got to move on. That is what I plan to do. I am not going to be disappointed. I am going to keep moving forward. I have no time to look back.”

Cox will battle either 2012 Olympic silver medalist Jaime Espinal of Puerto Rico or three-time World medalist Reineris Salas Perez of Cuba for the bronze medal.

Dlagnev faced an all too familiar opponent in the 125 kg semis, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Komeil Ghasemi of Iran. Shortly into the bout Ghasemi snapped Dlagnev down for two and went to work on top, scoring four consecutive gut wrenches to win, 10-0.

To open his second Olympic Games, Dlagnev topped 2015 World silver medalist Jamaladdin Magomedov at the buzzer, 6-5, as well as edging World No. 11 Robert Baran of Poland, 3-2. He sits in the bronze medal match and will face one of three opponents: Korey Jarvis of Canada, Diaaeldin Abdelmottaleb of Egypt or World No. 1 Geno Petriashvili of Georgia.

“He has a bronze medal match to wrestle, and that’s a big deal,” said U.S. freestyle coach Bill Zadick of Dlagnev. “An Olympic medal is a huge deal. Guys train their entire lives, their entire careers for this. They spend 25 years training, preparing for these moments. We want both guys to reset their minds, and go win these bronze medals.”

Two-time World champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev of Russia outscored his opponents a combined 23-1 including an 8-1 win over 2012 Olympic champion Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan to make his first Olympic final. He will face Yasar for gold in a rematch of the 2015 World finals won by Sadulaev.

Turkey’s two-time World champion Taha Akgul showed similar dominance to Sadulaev by outscoring his opponents 29-1 en route to the 125 kg finals. Akgul and Ghasemi wrestled in the 2014 World finals and will now wrestle for Olympic gold.

Men’s freestyle competition will resume at 3 p.m. (ET) today with the repechage rounds and medal matches at 86 kg and 125 kg.

Every match from the 2016 Olympic Games can be viewed live courtesy of NBC at Complete brackets and match-by-match results can be found at

Aug. 14-21 at Carioca Arena 2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Finals Matchups
86 kg/189 lbs.

Gold – Abdulrashid Sadulaev (Russia) vs. Selim Yasar (Turkey)

Bronze – Sharif Sharifov (Azerbaijan) vs. Repechage 1 Winner
Repechage 1 – Pedro Ceballos Fuentes (Venezuela) vs. Istvan Vereb (Hungary)

Bronze – J’den Cox (United States) vs. Repechage 1 Winner
Repechage 1 – Jaime Espinal (Puerto Rico) vs. Reineris Salas Perez (Cuba)

125 kg/275 lbs.
Gold – Taha Akgul (Turkey) vs. Komeil Ghasemi (Iran)

Bronze – Levan Berianidze (Armenia) vs. Repechage 1
Repechage 1 –  Chuluunbat Jargalsaikhan (Mongolia) vs. Ibrahim Saidau (Belarus)

Bronze – Tervel Dlagnev (United States) vs. Repechage 2 Winner
Repechage 2 – Geno Petriashvili (Georgia) vs. Repechage 1 Winner
Repechage 1 – Korey Jarvis (Canada) vs. Diaaeldin Abdelmottaleb (Egypt)

U.S. men’s freestyle results
86 kg/189 lbs. – J’den Cox, Columbia. Mo. (Titan Mercury WC/Missouri WF)
WIN Amarhajy Mahamedau (Belarus), 7-1
WIN Alireza Mohammed Karimimachiani (Iran), 5-1
LOSS Selim Yasar (Turkey), 2-1

125 kg/275 lbs. – Tervel Dlagnev, Columbus, Ohio (Sunkist Kids/Ohio RTC)
WIN Jamaladdin Magomedov (Azerbaijan), 6-5
WIN Robert Baran (Poland), 3-2
LOSS Komeil Ghasemi (Iran), 10-0