USA Wrestling 2018 World Champions...

2018 World Championships preview at 77 kg/169.5 lbs. in Greco-Roman

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Oct. 02, 2018, 12:34 p.m. (ET)

Big throws are a trademark of 2018 World Team member Kamal Bey of the USA. Photo by Mark Lundy.

Dates of competition: Saturday, October 27 and Sunday, October 28

To say this weight class is loaded is an understatement. All of the World or Olympic gold medalists at either 74 kg or 75 kg going back to 2011 are expected to be entered at 77 kg in Budapest. That is seven straight years of gold medals, all entered in the same bracket. That fact alone makes this a true monster competition which should be filled with drama and great wrestling.

Two Olympic gold medalists are among these stars, 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion Roman Vlasov of Russia, and the 2012 Olympic champion at 66 kg, Hyeon-Woo Kim of Korea.

Vlasov has fashioned a Hall of Fame career, adding 2011 and 2015 World gold medals to his two Olympic titles. Vlasov moved up to 80 kg in 2017 and competed in the World Championships, but did not medal. The new 77 kg weight class brings him back down to an Olympic weight, where he will battle all of his former adversaries. Vlasov won all of his 2018 tournaments at 77 kg, including the European Championships, the respected Ivan Poddubny International in Russia and the Palusalu Memorial in Estonia. Also on his vast resume are a 2013 World silver medal, a 2013 World University Games title, a 2010 Junior World gold and much more.

After winning the 2012 Olympic title at 66 kg, Kim has moved up in weight and battled Vlasov for a number of years. At the 2013 World Championships, Kim defeated Vlasov in the finals. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Vlasov edged Kim 7-6 in the opening round in a wild match, and Kim battled back for bronze. Kim has wrestled in two international events this season at 77 kg, winning the Kartozia and Balavadze International in Georgia and taking a bronze medal at the Asian Games. Kim is in the medal rounds of almost every tournament, although he did not medal in the 2015 and 2017 Worlds.

Based upon UWW Ranking Series, Vlasov should get a seed and Kim will not, meaning they could meet at any time in Budapest, based upon the blind draw for Kim.

Other World champions in the field are 2017 World champion Viktor Nemes of Serbia and 2014 World champion Arsen Julfalakyan of Armenia.

For Nemes, it was a first World medal in his fifth World or Olympic appearance. So far in 2018, Nemes won a silver medal at the European Championships and a gold medal at the Nikola Petrov in Bulgaria. Among his top achievements was a silver medal at the 2015 European Games and an eighth place finish at the 2016 Olympic Games. Nemes seems to be at the top of his game at this time in his career.

In addition to his 2014 World title, Julfalakyan was a 2012 Olympic silver medalist and added a 2013 World bronze medal. He competed in 2017 but did not attend the World Championships in Paris. In 2018, at 77 kg, he won a silver medal at the Pytlaninski Memorial in Poland, but fell short of the medals in two other international events.
When he is competing well, Julfalakyan has shown great skill. He is part of one of the greatest father-son acts in wrestling history, as his father Levon Jufalakyan was an Olympic and World champion for the former Soviet Union in the late 1980’s.

In addition to these champions, three other past World or Olympic medalists are expected in Budapest. Host Hungary will enter Tamas Lorincz, who was a 2012 Olympic silver medalist at 66 kg. At the 2017 World Championships, Lorincz won a silver medal at 75 kg. So far this season at 77 kg, Lorincz won a bronze medal at the European Championships and a silver medal at the Grand Prix of Germany. A three-time Olympian, 2014 World University champion and a 2006 Junior World medalist, Lorincz has as much experience as anyone in the weight. Competing on his home mats in Budapest should give him a boost.

Two-time World bronze medalist Elvin Mursaliyev of Azerbaijan won his medals at two different weight classes, placing third at the 2017 World Championships at 80 kg and also finishing third at the 2014 World Championships at 75 kg. He also reached the medal round at the 2015 Worlds, when he was fifth at 75 kg. This season, he won a European Championships bronze medal at 77 kg, but also won two other international medals competing up at 82 kg. He had a strong age-group career, as a 2008 Junior World champion and 2007 Junior World silver medalist.

2017 World bronze medalist Pascal Eisele is among the stars who have helped rev up a strong German team in recent seasons. He had a big breakthrough in 2016, when he won the European Championships title at 80 kg. He also added a World Military gold medal in 2016. Eisele has not been active this year, falling out of the medals in his only competition at the Grand Prix of Germany.

The United States is looking for a strong performance from 2017 Junior World champion Kamal Bey, who has become one of the most exciting athletes on the Greco-Roman scene. Bey has a fearless attitude on the mat, which often leads to big throws in high-scoring bouts. He was fifth in the 2018 Junior Worlds against a loaded field, which Bey used as his tune-up event for his first Senior World appearance. His two Senior gold medals in 2018 came at the Bill Farrell International in New York City and the Cerro Pelado International in Cuba.

Bozo Starcevic of Croatia has reached two medal matches at the highest level, placing fifth at the 2016 Olympic Games at 75 kg and fifth at the 2014 World Championships at 80 kg. Starcevic has split his time in 2018 between 82 kg and 77 kg. His top effort at 77 kg was a bronze medal at the Mediterranean Games.

Reaching a medal match at the 2017 World Championships at 75 kg was Kazbek Kilou of Belarus, who finished fifth. His top performances this year at 77 kg were a gold medal at the Grand Prix of Zagreb in Croatia and a silver medal at the Vehbi Emre International in Turkey. His past achievements include a 2012 Junior World title.

2018 Pan American champion Ariel Fis Batista burst onto the scene this year, winning three gold medals. He added a gold in the Central American and Caribbean Championships, then later in the season another gold at the Central American and Caribbean Games. Mostly untested at the World level, this will be his first World Championships event at any age division.

Another experienced entry at 77 kg is Dmitro Pyshkov of Belarus, who has been competitive worldwide for over a decade. Among his top past performances are bronze medals at the 2015 European Games, the 2015 World Military Games and the 2013 World University Games. His top Worlds finish was ninth in 2014. This year, he has bounced back and forth between 77 kg and 82 kg, and won a bronze at the German Grand Prix at 77 kg.

2016 Junior World champion Tamerlan Shadukayev of Kazakhstan won the gold medal at the respected Grand Prix of Hungary this winter. 2018 Olympian Dilshod Turdiev of Uzbekistan has won a number of Asian Senior medals in his career. Alex Kessidis of Sweden was fifth at the 2017 U23 Worlds and fifth at the 2015 Junior World Championships. Two-time Pan American silver medalist Jair Cuero Munoz of Colombia is competitive at the World level. 2012 Junior World silver medalist Tornike Dzamashvili of Georgia was fifth at the 2018 European Championships.

Ridong Zhang of China was third at the tough Grand Prix of Hungary this year and has been in three previous Senior World events. Two-time Commonwealth champion Gurpreet Singh of India placed seventh at the 2014 Senior Worlds. Others to watch include Dawid Klimek of Poland, Matias Lipasti of Finland and Shohei Yabiku of Japan.

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


2017 World Championships
75 kg/165 lbs. - Gold- Viktor Nemes (Serbia); Silver - Tamas Lorincz (Hungary) ; Bronze - Saeid Morad Abdvali (Iran); Bronze - Fatih Cengiz (Turkey); 5th - Kazbek Kilou (Belarus); 6th – Mindia Tsulukidze (Georgia); 7th - Hyeonwoo Kim (Korea); 8th - Karapet Chalyan (Armenia); 9th - Gang Zhang (China); 10th – Raibek Bisultanov (Denmark)

2016 Olympic Games
75 kg/165 lbs. – Gold – Roman Vlasov (Russia); Silver – Mark Overgaard Madsen (Denmark); Bronze –Hyeon-woo Kim (Korea); Bronze – Saeid Morad Abdvali (Iran); Fifth – Bozo Starcevic (Croatia); Fifth – Peter Basci (Hungary); Seventh – Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan); Eighth – Viktor Nemes (Serbia); Ninth – Bin Yang (China); Tenth – Doszhan Kartikov

2015 World Championships
75 kg/165 lbs. – Gold – Roman Vlasov (Russia); Silver – Mark Madsen (Denmark); Bronze – Andy Bisek (United States); Bronze – Doszhan Kartikov (Kazakhstan); 5th – Saeid Morad Abdvali (Iran); 5th – Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan); 7th – Bozo Starcevic (Croatia); 8th – Peter Basci (Hungary); 9th – Arsen Julfalakyan (Armenia); 10th – Hyeon-Woo Kim (Korea)

2014 World Championships
75 kg/165 lbs. – Gold – Arsen Julfalakyan (Armenia); Silver – Neven Zugaj (Croatia); Bronze – Andy Bisek (USA); Bronze – Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan); 5th – Hiroyuki Shimizu (Japan); 5th – Zurabi Datunashvili (Georgia); 7th – Gurpreet Singh (India); 8th – Juan Escobar (Mexico); 9th – Dmytro Pyshkov (Ukraine); 10th – Yavor Yankiev (Bulgaria)

2013 World Championships
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold –Hyeon-Woo Kim (Korea); Silver - Roman Vlasov (Russia); Bronze –Arsen Julfalakyan (Armenia); Bronze - Emrah Kus (Turkey); 5th - Mark Madsen (Denmark); 5th - Veili-Karri Suominen (Finland); 7th - Mykola Daragan (Ukraine); 8th - Bin Yang (China); 9th – Esengeldi Kozhobek Uulu (Kyrgyzstan); 10th - Rafik Huseynov (Azerbaijan)

2012 Olympic Games
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold - Roman Vlasov (Russia); Silver - Arsen Julfalakyan (Armenia); Bronze - Aleksandr Kazekevic (Lithuania); Bronze - Emin Ahmadov (Azerbaijan); 5th - Mark Madsen (Denmark); 5th - Aliaksandr Kikiniou (Belarus); 7th - Zurabi Datunishvili (Georgia); 8th - Christophe Guenot (France); 9th - Robert Rosengren (Sweden); 10th - Neven Zugaj (Croatia)

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)
1 Kazbek Kilou (Belarus)
2 Mohammadali Abdolhamid Geraei (Iran)
3 Ariel Fis Batista (Cuba)
4 Roman Vlasov (Russia)
5 Viktor Nemes (Serbia)
6 Shohei Yabiku (Japan)
7 Tamas Lörincz (Hungary)
8 Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan)
9 Fatih Cengiz (Turkey)
10 Alex Michel Kessidis (Sweden)