Furious U.S. rally falls short against Iran in Freestyle World Cup final

By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling | Feb. 17, 2017, 4:53 p.m. (ET)
Photo: David Taylor (USA) picks up a fall over 2016 Olympic champion Hassan Yazdanicharati (IRI) in the finals of the 2017 Freestyle World Cup. Photo by Justin Hoch, JHoch.com.

KERMANSHAH, Iran – The Imam Khomeini Sport Venue was at excess capacity on Friday evening as a wild Iranian crowd was treated to a whirlwind championship dual between the United States and Iran that came down to the final match.

Unfortunately for the American side, a furious rally to come out of a 4-0 hole fell just short in a 5-3 loss to Iran who has now won six-straight Freestyle World Cup events.

The preeminent match of the championships dual came at 125 kg/275 lbs. with young American star Nick Gwiazdowski staring down two-time Olympic medalist Komeil Ghasemi. Gwiazdowski was unable to find his rhythm throughout the bout. Ghasemi held solid position to force a Gwiazdowski shot clock expiration in the early going. The Iranian proceeded to score two takedowns and clinch the World Cup title for Iran with a 5-0 decision.

Although falling short of the World Cup crown, the U.S. team displayed tremendous heart to even force the heavyweight showdown.

Olympic champion and three-time World champion Jordan Burroughs stepped on the mat with the weight of the moment directly on his shoulders. The U.S. had no room for error trailing four matches to none going into the 74 kg/163 lbs. bout.

Burroughs gave up the initial takedown to 2015 Asian champion Peyman Yarahmadi before responding with a takedown of his own. A second period step out point for Burroughs proved to be the difference in a gritty 3-2 decision.

“It was good to be back,” Burroughs said after posting a perfect 4-0 record at the World Cup this week. “I put a long, hard road into this journey, mostly mentally preparing myself to return after such a big letdown at the Olympic Games. I’m just a wily veteran now. You know, I’m old. I’m savvy. I know how to win. I might not have as much horsepower as I did when I was 22, but I can still get the job done.”

Immediately following Burroughs, David Taylor proved he is one of the best 86 kg/189 lbs. wrestlers in the world by cementing an undefeated World Cup with a second period pin against 2016 Olympic champion Hassan Yazdanicharati. Taylor surrendered three step out points to Yazdanicharati in the first period, falling behind 3-0. The script was then flipped as Taylor posted four-straight takedowns, the last of which leading to a fall.

“I’m freaking excited,” Taylor declared once his day was done. “I’ve been fighting and clawing to get to represent this country the last couple years at 74 kilos behind one of the greatest we’ve ever had, Jordan Burroughs. I finally got a chance at 86. I feel great at this weight class. I feel strong. I just finally got the opportunity to wrestle the top guys, so I wanted to take advantage of it.”

The win was Taylor’s second such performance over an Olympic champion on Friday. In the morning session, he defeated 2012 Olympic gold medalist Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan, 12-2. Tack on a Thursday win over 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Dato Marsagishvili of Georgia, and Taylor now owns one of the best World Cup performances in U.S. history.

“The pool we had was the best draw I could have imagined to wrestle the best guys. It imitates whatever it takes to win a World championship. I’m just really excited to be here and grateful for the opportunities I had,” Taylor added.

With the dual now within reach at 4-2, Olympic and World champion Kyle Snyder took the mat at 97 kg/213 lbs. against 2016 University World champion Amir Mohammadi. Snyder controlled the bout from start to finish, securing two step outs and two takedowns to win by a 6-0 final score. Snyder rebounded well from a tough last second loss to Azerbaijan’s Aslanbek Alborov and finished with a 3-1 record this week.

“It was a great atmosphere. Happy to be able to come out and compete in Iran,” Snyder said after his final match. “The team came up a little short, but overall I think individually I’ve got a lot of thing that I have learned and I can improve on before World Team Trials and before the World Championships in Paris. We will be a stronger team by the time the World’s come. I’m very confident in that.”

Going into the Iran dual, 2016 World champion Logan Stieber and 2015 World bronze medalist James Green were unscathed with 3-0 records on the week. Both men dropped tough decisions to Iranian opponents, Stieber falling 6-2 to two-time World medalist Masoud Esmaeilpoorjouybari at 61 kg/134 lbs. and Green losing 2-0 to 2016 World bronze medalist Mostafa Hosseinkhani at 70 kg/154 lbs.

Olympian Frank Molinaro held a 4-0 lead over Asian champion Meisam Nasiri halfway through the second period at 65 kg/143 lbs. Nasiri got on a roll late, scoring two takedowns and a step out in the final moments to defeat Molinaro, 5-4.

Olympic bronze medalist Hassan Rahimi stymied two-time World Team member Tony Ramos with three takedowns throughout the 57 kg/125.5 lbs. tussle to win comfortably, 6-0.

The U.S. improved upon a fourth-place finish at last year’s Freestyle World Cup. This week’s second-place finish is the highest placement for the U.S. since 2015 where they fell to Iran in the championship dual.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge,” U.S. coach Bill Zadick said. “Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia, people call it the pool of death. Four of the top five teams in the world on that side, so I am very proud of our guys, our effort. In the final match, you’re wrestling Iran in their home, and we knew it’d be tough. Hopefully we put on a great show for the crowd here and for the world-wide fans.”

In the other placement matches all three team from Group A came out on top with lopsided outcomes. Azerbaijan downed Turkey 7-1 for third place. Similarly, Russia cruised past Mongolia 7-1 for fifth place and Georgia took out India 6-1 for seventh place.

Complete video archives from all 2017 Freestyle World Cup matches, as well as match-by-match results, can be found at Trackwrestling.com.

2017 FREESTYLE WORLD CUP
Feb. 16-17 in Kermanshah, Iran


Final Results
1st Place: Iran
2nd Place: United States
3rd Place: Azerbaijan
4th Place: Turkey
5th Place: Russia
6th Place: Mongolia
7th Place: Georgia
8th Place: India

1st Place Match
Iran 5 (16) – United States 3 (13)

57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Hassan Rahimi (Iran) dec. Tony Ramos (United States), 6-0
61 kg/134 lbs. – Masoud Esmaeilpoorjouybari (Iran) dec. Logan Stieber (United States), 6-2
65 kg/143 lbs. – Meisam Nasiri (Iran) dec. Frank Molinaro (United States), 5-4
70 kg/154 lbs. – Mostafa Hosseinkhani (Iran) dec. James Green (United States), 2-0
74 kg/163 lbs. – Jordan Burroughs (United States) dec. Peyman Yarahmadi (Iran), 3-2
86 kg/189 lbs. – David Taylor (United States) fall Hassan Yazdanicharati (Iran), 5:05
97 kg/213 lbs. – Kyle Snyder (United States) dec. Amir Mohammadi (Iran), 6-0
125 kg/275 lbs. – Komeil Ghasemi (Iran) dec. Nick Gwiazdowski (United States), 5-0

3rd Place Match
Azerbaijan 7 (27) – Turkey 1 (7)

57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Giorgi Edisherashvili (Azerbaijan) dec. Sezar Akgul (Turkey), 8-7
61 kg/134 lbs. – Ali Rahimzade (Azerbaijan) forfeit (Turkey)
65 kg/143 lbs. – Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan) tech. fall Safa Aksoy (Turkey), 12-2
70 kg/154 lbs. – Yakup Gor (Turkey) dec. David Suynyuchkhanov (Azerbaijan), 10-2
74 kg/163 lbs. – Murad Suleymanov (Azerbaijan) dec. Islam Kilic (Turkey), 5-0
86 kg/189 lbs. – Sharif Sharifov (Azerbaijan) dec. Selim Yasar (Turkey), 2-1
97 kg/213 lbs. – Aslanbek Alborov (Azerbaijan) dec. Faruk Akkoyun (Turkey), 9-1
125 kg/275 lbs. – Jamaladdin Magomedov (Azerbaijan) fall Salim Ercan (Turkey), 0:48

5th Place Match
Russia 7 (27) – Mongolia 1 (6)

57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Zelimkhan Abakarov (Russia) tech. fall Batbold Sodnomdash (Mongolia), 10-0
61 kg/134 lbs. – Dzhamal Otarsultanov (Russia) dec. Tulga Tumur-Ochir (Mongolia), 4-1
65 kg/143 lbs. – Alan Gogaev (Russia) dec. Batmagnai Batchuluun (Mongolia), 9-2
70 kg/154 lbs. – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia) dec. Magomedkhabib Kadimagomedov (Russia), 14-7
74 kg/163 lbs. – Atsamaz Sanakoev (Russia) tech. fall Ankhbayar Batchuluun (Mongolia), 12-1
86 kg/189 lbs. – Vladislav Valiev (Russia) tech. fall Unurbat Purevjav (Mongolia), 10-0
97 kg/213 lbs. – Rasul Magomedov (Russia) fall Batzul Ulziisaikhan (Mongolia), 5:36
125 kg/275 lbs. – Vladislav Baitcaev (Russia) dec. Zolboo Natsagsuren (Mongolia), 6-0

7th Place Match
Georgia 6 (24) – India 1 (6)

57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Double Forfeit
61 kg/134 lbs. – Shota Phartenadze (Georgia) fall Harphool Harphool (India), 5:00
65 kg/143 lbs. – Bajrang Bajrang (India) tech. fall Iveriko Julakidze (Georgia), 16-6
70 kg/154 lbs. – Levan Kelekhsashvili (Georgia) dec. Amit Dhankhar (India), 7-6
74 kg/163 lbs. – Jakob Makarashvili (Georgia) dec. Jitender Jitender (India), 5-3
86 kg/189 lbs. – Dato Marsagishvili (Georgia) tech. fall Deepak Deepak, 10-0
97 kg/213 lbs. – Zviad Metreveli (Georgia) dec. Roublejit Rangi (India), 8-0
125 kg/275 lbs. – Geno Petriashvili (Georgia) forfeit (India)