USA Wrestling 2018 World Champions...

2018 World Championships preview at 74 kg/163 lbs. in men’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Oct. 01, 2018, 1:36 p.m. (ET)

Jordan Burroughs of the USA celebrates his 2017 World title in Paris. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.

Dates of competition: Saturday, October 20 and Sunday, October 21

While the world has put a lot of focus on the budding rivalry between 2012 Olympic champion and four-time World champion Jordan Burroughs of the United States and two-time World champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Frank Chamizo of Italy, there are a whole lot of other tough athletes who are intent on putting the focus in Budapest on themselves instead.

This weight class has been owned internationally by Burroughs, who won the 2012 Olympics in London and added World gold medals in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. Also toss in his 2014 World bronze medal (when he competed with a leg injury) and you have a guaranteed UWW International Hall of Fame career going on. Burroughs has made his eighth straight World or Olympic team for the USA, an amazing streak. His four World titles tie John Smith and Tricia Saunders among Americans. His five World and Olympic titles tie with Bruce Baumgartner and trails only John Smith in the USA.

What makes Burroughs even more impressive is that he still remains at the top of his game. After a disappointing 2016 Olympic Games where he fell short of the medals, Burrough powered back in 2017 to retain his spot at the top of the podium. He had a strong performance at the World Cup this year and enters another Worlds with a target on his back, something he has handled very well for a long time. His work ethic and focus is unmatched and he remains super competitive every time he steps on the mat.

Chamizo has become a fan favorite worldwide, because of his amazing set of athletic tools and counter technique mastery. He started his career with Cuba, where he won his first Senior World bronze medal in 2010. His career has thrived since emigrating to Italy. He won the 2015 World Championships at 65 kg and took the 2016 Olympic bronze medal at that weight. In 2017, he moved up to 70 kg where he won the World gold medal. This year, he moved up to 74 kg, the Olympic weight class, and made a public challenge to Burroughs. Chamizo has won a medal in all six of his 2018 events at 74 kg, including four golds.

Burroughs first battled Chamizo in the 2018 Beat the Streets Benefit in New York’s Seaport District in May, where Burroughs won a hard-fought 8-5 win. Chamizo came back at the Yasar Dogu International this July to emerge from another war with a comeback 10-10 criteria decision. Because Chamizo has earned a seed and Burroughs did not compete in enough ranking events and will be unseeded, their battle could happen at any time in Budapest, based upon the blind draw. The world clamors for Burroughs v. Chamizo III, but there is no guarantee that will happen.

There should be at least six other past World medalists in the field, all who have chosen to find their way to this Olympic weight class and make a run at the two superstars in the field. One is very familiar with American fans, 2011 World silver medalist Franklin Gomez of Puerto Rico. Gomez won an NCAA title for Michigan State and tried out for some U.S. age-group teams while in college before making the commitment to Puerto Rico in 2010. Gomez has wrestled his career at 60 kg and 65 kg, but made the decision this year to jump up to 74 kg. Gomez has won four medals at 74 kg this year, with the lone gold being at the Canada Cup. There is a question if Gomez is too small for 74 and may be past his prime, but he remains dangerous in every match with excellent techniques and tactics.

Expected to make a run at the finals in this weight class is 2013 and 2014 World bronze medalist Mandakhnaran Ganzorig of Mongolia, won had his top achievements down at 65 kg. He was fifth in the 2016 Olympic Games at 65 kg, in that crazy match where the Mongolian coaches stripped off their clothes in protest of the call in his bronze-medal bout. Ganzorig wrestled up at 70 kg in 2017, where he missed the medal rounds at the Worlds in Paris. In 2018, he has been exclusively at 74 kg with mixed results, winning a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Championships and at the Mongolian Open, but missing the medal rounds in his last three appearances.

Unlike many of the others in the field, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and 2017 World bronze medalist Soner Demirtas of Turkey has made his mark right here at 74 kg. This year, Demirtas has wrestled in only two major events, taking a gold medal at the European Championships and a silver medal at the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria (where he lost to Chamizo in the finals). A 2017 European champion and a past Junior World medalist, Demirtas is expected to be right in the hunt for medals in Budapest.

2014 World bronze medalist Bekzod Abdurakmonov of Uzbekistan is very familiar to USA fans. He was a Div. I All-American at Clarion University, and has spent a considerable amount of his training time right here in the United States. Abdurakhmanov placed fifth at the 2016 Olympics and fifth at the 2017 Worlds, where he wrestled Burroughs both times. He upset Burroughs in the repechage at the 2016 Rio Games, and Burroughs beat him in a 6-5 semifinals battle at the 2017 Paris Worlds. He won a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games and a silver medal at the Kartozia and Balavadze International in Georgia this season.

Two other past World bronze medalists are in the expected field, 2017 World bronze medalist Yuhi Fujinami of Japan and 2016 World bronze medalist Mostafa Hosseinkhani of Iran.

Fujinami won his 2017 World bronze medal last year at 70 kg. This year, he won a bronze medal at 74 kg at the Asian Games, and won two of his three matches at the World Cup in Iowa City, with his only loss to Burroughs. Fujinami boasts two Junior World medals and a Cadet World medal, showing great promise moving up the age-group ladder.

Hosseinkhani won his 2016 World bronze medal at 70 kg. His two major events in 2018 included a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Championships and a fifth-place finish at the 2018 Asian Games. He won Asian Championships titles in 2014 and 2016.

Russia is expected to bring Zaurbek Sidakov, who moved up to 74 kg this year and has been very impressive. Sidakov won the Russian Nationals, the U23 European Championships and the World Military Championships in 2018, adding a silver medal at the rugged Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia. He lost to World champion and World silver medalist Khetik Tsabalov at Yarygin, but beat him in the Russian Nationals finals. A 2015 Junior World bronze medalist, this is his first Senior Worlds.

Two tough competitors do not appear in the preliminary entry lists but would be medal challengers if they do show up. 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Livan Lopez of Cuba also has three World Championship medals, with a silver in 2013 and bronzes in 2011 and 2014. He won the 2018 Pan American Championships at 74 kg and lost to Kyle Dake of the USA at 79 kg at the Beat the Streets Benefit. If he shows up, he is a tough draw in Budapest.

The other wrestler to watch if he enters is 2018 European silver medalist Zelimkhan Khadjiev of France. Khadjiev was fifth at the 2015 Worlds, and competed in this weight class at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 World Championships. His last performance was a 79 kg bronze medal at the 2018 Military Worlds.

Qualifying for World medal matches twice and placing fifth both times is Azamat Nurykau of Belarus, who was fifth at the 2015 Worlds at 70 kg and fifth at the 2017 Worlds at 65 kg. Nurykau was fifth at the 2018 European Championships at 70 kg but bumped up to 74 kg this summer where he won the Alexander Medved International in Belarus.

The 2018 Asian Championships gold medalist Muslim Evloev of Kyrgyzstan will be a top challenger. 2018 Asian Games silver medalist Daniar Kaizanov of Kazakhstan also won a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Championships. 2018 Pan American bronze medalist Nestor Tafur of Columbia was an EIWA champion for Boston University and wrestled in high school in New Jersey.

Others to watch include Joshgun Azimov of Azerbaijan, Avtandil Kentchadze of Georgia, Zsombor Gulyas of Hungary, Hanoc Rachamin of Israel and Zaur Efendiev of Serbia.

Note: TheMat.com will be posting weight class previews for the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, October 20-28.

RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS

2017 World Championships
74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold - Jordan Burroughs (United States); Silver - Khetik Tsabolov (Russia); Bronze – Soener Demirtas (Turkey) ; Bronze – Ali Shabanau (Belarus); 5th - Yabrail Hasanov (Azerbaijan); 5th - Bekzod Abdurakhmanov (Uzbekistan); 7th - Livan Lopez Azcuy (Cuba); 8th - Sohsuke Takatani (Japan); 9th - Zelimkhan Khadiev (France); 10th - Hanoc Rachamin (Israel)

2016 Olympic Games
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold – Hassan Yazdanicharati (Iran); Silver – Aniuar Geduev (Russia); Bronze – Yabrail Hasanov (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Soner Demirtas (Turkey); 5th – Bekzod Abdurakhmanov (Uzbekistan); 5th – Galimzhan Usserbaev (Kazakhstan); 7th – Sosuke Takatani (Japan); 8th – Zelimkhan Khadjiev (France); 9th – Jordan Burroughs (United States); 10th – Livan Lopez Azcuy (Cuba)

2015 World Championships
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold – Jordan Burroughs (USA); Silver – Unurbat Purevjav (Mongolia); Bronze – Narsingh Yadav (India); Bronze – Aniuar Geduev (Russia); 5th – Zelimkhan Khadjiev (France); 5th – Alireza Ghasemi (Iran); 7th – Livan Lopez Azcuy (Cuba); 8th – Mihaly Nagy (Hungary); 9th – Jumber Kvelashvili (Georgia); 10th – Rashid Kurbanov (Uzbekistan)

2014 World Championships
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold – Denis Tsargush (Russia); Silver – Sosuke Takatani (Japan); Bronze – Jordan Burroughs (USA); Bronze – Livan Lopez (Cuba); 5th – Rustam Dudaiev (Ukraine); 5th – Jumber Kvelashvili (Georgia); 7th – Rashid Kurbanov (Uzbekistan); 8th – Ashraf Aliyev (Azerbaijan); 9th – Krystian Brzozowski (Poland); 10th – Zaur Efendiev (Serbia)

2013 World Championships
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold – Jordan Burroughs (USA); Silver – Ezzatollah Akbari (Iran); Bronze – Ali Shabanov (Belarus); Bronze – Rashid Kurbanov (Uzbekistan); 5th – Narasingh Yadav (India); 5th – Yakob Makarashvili (Georgia); 7th – Sosuke Takatani (Japan); 8th – Yabrail Hasanov (Azerbaijan); 9th – Grigor Grigoryan (Armenia); 10th – Yunieris Blanco Mora (Cuba)

2012 Olympics
74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold – Jordan Burroughs (United States); Silver – Sadegh Goudarzi (Iran); Bronze - Gabor Hatos (Hungary);; Bronze – Denis Tsargush (Canada); 5th – Matt Gentry (Canada); 6th – Davit Khutishvili (Georgia); 7th – Augusto Midana (Guinea-Bissau); 8th – Ashraf Aliyev (Azerbaijan); 9th – Abdulhakim Shapiev (Kazakhstan); 10th – Bilel Ouechtati (Tunisia)

Current UWW Ranking Series Standings (for seeding)
1 Frank Chamizo Marques (Italy)
2 Bekzod Abdurakhmanov (Uzbekistan)
3 Daniyar Kaisanov (Kazakhstan)
4 Akhsarbek Gulaev (Slovakia)
5 Ali Pasha Ruslanovich Umarpashaev (Bulgaria)
6 Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia)
7 Nurykan Azamat (Belarus)
8 Dovletmyrat Orazbylyjov (Turkmenistan)
9 Soner Demirtas (Turkey)
10 Zelimkhan Khadjiev (France)