World Championships preview in men's freestyle at 86 kg/189 lbs.

By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling | Aug. 11, 2017, 12:14 p.m. (ET)
Photo: Olympic bronze medalist J’den Cox returns to international action at the World Championships in Paris, France. Photo by Tony Rotundo,

Video: J’den Cox at World Team training camp

Date of Competition: Friday, August 25

The Russian tank Abdulrashid Sadulaev has been untouchable at 86 kg/189 lbs. the past three years, winning two World titles and the Olympic Games with apparent ease. Sadulaev is making the move up to 97 kg/213 lbs., clearing a path for new blood to take over the weight class.

Popular opinion holds Olympic champion Hassan Yazdanicharati of Iran as the man to take over for Sadulaev. Yazdanicharati won the Rio Olympics at 74 kg/163 lbs. and has since moved up to 86 kg with a great level of success. He recently won the Islamic Solidarity Games and jumped to No. 1 in the UWW World Rankings as a result. His only international loss of the year came at the hands of World No. 6 David Taylor of the United States in the World Cup final.

Yazdanicharati was a World silver medalist at 70 kg/154 lbs. two years ago. He also won the Junior World Championships in 2014. The key to stopping Yazdanicharati is navigating his overwhelming pressure, something few have been able to do. He will represent Iran over this year’s Asian champion and 2015 World bronze medalist Alireza Karimimachiani.

Even with Sadulaev exiting the weight, Russia boats five men currently ranked in the World Rankings, and will be well represented no matter the entrant. Indications are World No. 11 Vladislav Valiev will be Russia’s entrant in Paris. Valiev recently won the Waclaw Ziolkowski Memorial over several top contenders, and scored a big win over World No. 8 Shamil Kudiyamagomedov in the Russian Nationals finals.

It should be noted that Russia also sports this year’s European champion, Dauren Kurugliev, who currently holds the No. 2 World ranking. Kurugliev won’t be in the mix due to a first-round exit at Russian Nationals.

World No. 4 Selim Yasar is a strong contender to bring home the gold. Yasar finished second to Sadulaev at the Olympic Games and World Championships the past two years. He also boasts a World bronze medal from 2014. Yasar has medaled at three international events in 2017, but has failed to grab a gold. Yasar’s losses on the year include Yazdanicharati, Kurugliev and World No. 3 Aleksander Gostiev of Azerbaijan.

Gostiev will take over for two-time Olympic medalist Sharif Sharipov as the Azerbaijan representative. He was runner-up to Kurugliev at the European Championships, won gold at the G. Kartozia & V. Balavadze Price tournament and finished with silver at the Ali Aliev Tournament in 2017.

Olympic bronze medalist and World No. 5 J’den Cox of the United States makes his return to international competition in Paris. Cox hasn’t competed internationally since the Rio Games, in large part to complete his college career at Missouri. He won his third NCAA title in March, and followed it up with a legendary victory over Taylor in the U.S. World Team Trials finals.

2013 World bronze medalist Istvan Vereb is a lurking threat to anyone with gold-medal aspirations. World No. 9 Vereb posted a strong showing at the European Championships, finishing with a bronze medal.

The Pan American nations will have strong competitors in Paris with continental champion Yurieski Torreblanca Queralta taking the mat for Cuba and Pan American runner-up Pedro Ceballos Fuentes doing the same for Venezuela. World No. 10 Torreblanca has not competed at a World Championships, and will fill the void left by multiple-time World medalist Reineris Salas Perez. Ceballos Fuentes enters as No. 15 in the World Rankings and was fifth at last year’s Olympic Games.

Adding to the depth of Pan American representatives is 2012 Olympic silver medalist Jaime Espinal of Puerto Rico. Espinal is a hit-or-miss athlete, but has upset potential even without a World ranking to his credit.

In the same vein, 2010 World champion Mihail Ganev of Bulgaria appears to have left his better days behind him. That said, he is nearly always in medal contention at the World Championships, and did post a solid fifth-place finish at the European’s this year.

Georgia will send young gun Irakli Mtsituri to his first World Championships over Olympic bronze medalist Dato Marsagishvili and World No. 16 David Khutsishvili.

Following a 10th place finish at the Olympic Games, World No. 12 Zbigniew Baranowski of Poland has strung together a solid international campaign this year with medal wins at the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov Tournament and Waclaw Ziolkowski Memorial. He wound up in fifth place at the European Championships.

Another strong entrant at 86 kg is Asian silver medalist Azamat Dauletbekov of Kazakhstan who currently holds the No. 19 World ranking. Dauletbekov has won World-level medals in the Cadet and Junior divisions, but has yet to compete on the grand Senior stage.

American followers will recognize Campbell University’s two-time NCAA qualifier Ville Heino taking the mat for Finland.

The four athletes earning a seed at 86 kg are Yasar, Karimimachiani, Ceballos Fuentes and Baranowski. Given Karimimachiani’s expected absence, Yasar will stand as the only seeded athlete on the top half of the bracket, and Ceballos Fuentes and Baranowski will be separated on the bottom side.

This weight category will be contested on the first day of men’s freestyle action, Aug. 25. The tournament will begin at 10 a.m. local time, with finals scheduled for 7 p.m. Paris is situated six hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time.

A live stream of the World Championships, as well as brackets for each weight, will be provided to U.S. residents on

UWW World Rankings
1. Hassan Yazdanicharati (Iran)
2. Dauren Kurugliev (Russia)
3. Aleksander Gostiev (Azerbaijan)
4. Selim Yasar (Turkey)
5. J’den Cox (United States)
6. David Taylor (United States)
7. Alireza Karimimachiani (Iran)
8. Shamil Kudiyamagomedov (Russia)
9. Istvan Vereb (Hungary)
10. Yurieski Torreblanca Queralta (Cuba)
11. Vladislav Valiev (Russia)
12. Zbigniew Baranowski (Poland)
13. Dato Marsagishvili (Georgia)
14. Sharif Sharipov (Azerbaijan)
15. Pedro Ceballos Fuentes (Venezuela)
16. David Khutsishvili (Georgia)
17. Alikhan Dzhabrailov (Russia)
18. Unurbat Purejav (Mongolia)
19. Adilet Davlumbaev (Kazakhstan)
20. Anzor Urishev (Russia)

World Championships Seeds
1. Selim Yasar (Turkey)
2. Alireza Karimimachiani (Iran)
3. Pedro Ceballos Fuentes (Venezuela)
4. Zbigniew Baranowski (Poland)

Recent World and Olympic Results
2016 Olympic Games
86 kg/189 lbs. – Gold – Abdulrashid Sadulaev (Russia); Silver – Selim Yasar (Turkey); Bronze – Sharif Sharifov (Azerbaijan); Bronze – J’den Cox (United States); 5th – Pedro Ceballos Fuentes (Venezuela); 5th – Reineris Salas Perez (Cuba); 7th – Alireza Mohammad Karimimachiani (Iran); 8th – Mihail Ganev (Bulgaria); 9th – Amarhajy Mahamedau (Belarus); 10th – Zbigniew Baranowski (Poland)

2015 World Championships
86 kg/189 lbs. – Gold – Abdulrashid Sadulaev (Russia); Silver – Selim Yasar (Turkey); Bronze – Sandro Aminashvili (Georgia); Bronze – Alireza Karimimachiani (Iran); 5th – Magomedgadzhi Khatiyev (Azerbaijan); 5th – Mihail Ganev (Bulgaria); 7th – Ibragim Aldatov (Ukraine); 8th – Uitumen Orgodol (Mongolia); 9th – Armands Zvirbulis (Latvia); 10th – Pedro Francisco Ceballos Fuentes (Venezuela)

2014 World Championships
86 kg/189 lbs. – Gold – Abdulrashid Sadulaev (Russia); Silver – Reineris Salas (Cuba); Bronze – Mohammadhossein Mohammadian (Iran); Bronze – Selim Yasar (Turkey); 5th – Gamzat Osmanov (Azerbaijan); 5th – Aslan Kakhidze (Kazakhstan); 7th – Naresh Kumar (India); 8th – Michail Ganev (Bulgaria); 9th – Dato Marsagishvili (Georgia); 10th – Pedro Ceballas Fuentes (Venezuela)

2013 World Championships
84 kg/185 lbs. – Gold – Ibragim Aldatov (Ukraine); Silver – Reineris Salas Perez (Cuba); Bronze – Istvan Vereb (Hungary); Bronze – Ehsan Lashgari (Iran); 5th – Murad Gaidarov (Belarus); 5th – Talmuraz Naskidaeva (Spain); 7th - Georg Seregelyi (Germany); 8th - Uitumen Orgodol (Mongolia); 9th - Serdar Boke (Turkey); 10th - Dato Marsagishvili (Georgia)