USA Wrestling 2018 World Champions...

2018 World Championships preview at 79 kg/174 lbs. in men’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Oct. 04, 2018, 4:50 p.m. (ET)

Kyle Dake of the USA launches an opponent at the 2018 World Cup. Dake has the No. 4 seed at the Worlds in Budapest. Photo by Tim Tushla, WIN Magazine.

Dates of competition: Sunday, October 21 and Monday, October 22

When UWW added two new weight classes in men’s freestyle, it kept the eight previous weights and created two brand new weight classes. The 79 kg division is one of those weights, and the field that comes into Budapest has no history at the weight, except for one season on the international schedule.

Generally, because of the morning weigh-ins and two day schedule, athletes who used to compete at 86 kg have generally not dropped down to 79 kg. A majority of those who are in the projected field at 79 kg used to compete at 74 kg. There is a good group of past World-level medalists, but no past gold medalists, and many have been starters for their nation’s World Teams in the past. However, for some of the entries, including the super talented Kyle Dake of the United States, this new weight class provides a first opportunity to show off their abilities at the highest level.

There are three past World silver medalists from 74 kg in the expected field, led by 2015 World silver medalist Urunbat Purevjav of Mongolia. A two-time Olympian, Purevjav competed in his first Senior World Championships in 2009. This year, he started his season at 86 kg for a few events, but came down to 79 kg to win a gold at the Mongolia Open and bronze at the Dmitri Korkin International in Russia. He also boasts a 2008 Junior World bronze medal.

2014 World silver medalist Sohsuke Takatani of Japan also brings a healthy resume to his new weight class. Takatani was seventh in the 2016 Olympics at 74 kg. His first major event at 79 kg came at the 2018 World Cup in Iowa City, where he had a 3-1 record, with his lone loss to Dake by technical fall. He then tried out for the Japanese team at this weight class and will compete here in Budapest.

Roll back to 2013, when Ezzatollah Akbari of Iran reached the 74 kg World finals, where the tall, young athlete was defeated by Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs of the USA. Akbari has not competed at many major international events since them, but has continued to have medal performances. He won a silver at the 2014 Asian Games and a bronze at the 2015 World Military Games. In 2018, he moved in at 79 kg and won the gold medal at the Asian Championships. He will get his second Senior World appearance five years after reaching the finals in his first try.

Three-time World bronze medalist Ali Shabanau of Belarus is very experienced and a rugged competitor who battles hard. Shabanau won his first World bronze in 2013 at 74 kg, then dropped to 70 kg to win a 2014 World bronze medal and came back with a 2017 World bronze medal at 74 kg. After one event at 86 kg this winter, he competed in two international tournaments at 79 kg where he did not win a medal. A 2012 Olympian, Shabanau is a proven winner at the highest levels.

Also moving up into 79 kg is Jabrayil Hasanov of Azerbaijan, who was a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist at 74 kg. He also claimed two World bronzes medal at 66 kg in 2010 and 2011, and finished competing at that weight class by taking fifth at the 2012 Olympics. After a fifth place at the 2017 Worlds, he moved up to 79 kg this year, and has won three medals, with a silver at the Ukrainian Memorial International and bronzes at the European Championships and the Yasar Dogu International. He went 3-1 at the 2018 World Cup in Iowa City, with his lone loss by a 5-3 margin to Kyle Dake of the USA. Hasanov has been excellent for a long time, going back to his age-group days when he was a two-time Junior World medalist.

Are you noticing a pattern about Kyle Dake of the USA? At the World Cup, he beat past medalists Takatani and Hasanov, and also had dominant wins over athletes from India and Georgia. Dake also had a gold medal at the tough Yasar Dogu in Turkey and a silver at the rugged Ivan Yarygin Memorial in Russia. The world knows all about Kyle Dake, who enters with a No. 4 seed based upon the UWW Ranking Series. The reason he does not have the same resume on paper as some of these other stars is because of the athletes who kept him off past World and Olympic teams, Olympic champion and four-time World champion Jordan Burroughs and Olympic medalist and World medalist J’den Cox, now his teammates in Budapest. It would not be surprising to U.S. fans, or the international wrestling community if Kyle Dake won the gold medal in Budapest. He has been that good, especially at 79 kg which is a more natural weight class for him at this time. But, Dake has a very strong field to beat in order to reach his goal.

Another possible gold medal contender without a past World medal is the Russian entry, 2018 European champion Akhmed Gadzhimagomedov, who has won a gold medal at every major event he entered this year. In addition to winning the Russian Nationals, Gadzhimagomedov won the European Championships, the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria and the Ivan Yarygin Memorial in Russia, all at 79 kg. This guy has won three Ivan Yarygin gold medals in his career. This may be his first Senior Worlds, but he is very experienced and very talented.

Don’t forget to toss in another past World medalist, Rashid Kurbanov of Uzbekistan, who won the World bronze at 74 kg in 2013 and placed fifth at 70 kg in the 2016 World Championships. Kurbanov was second in the 2018 Asian Championships at 74 kg, losing to Akbari of Iran in the finals, and most recently wrestled at 86 kg at the Asian Games. This guy has a knack of going deep in tournaments and reaching medal matches, and like many of the others, may find 79 kg to be a good place for him.

A tough draw to watch is Rustam Dudaiev of Ukraine, who was fifth in the 2014 World Championships at 74 kg. Dudaiev missed the medals at the European Championships at 79 kg this year, but won bronze medals at two key tune-up events, the Yasar Dogu in Turkey and the Medved International in Belarus.

If you look at the seeds, all four of those who qualified are expected to compete in Budapest, No. 1 Gadzhimagomedov, No. 2 Hasanov, No. 3 Kurbanov and No. 4 Dake. The system seems to have worked in this weight, where four potential champions are separated prior to the semifinals. The only thing is that all of them still have to face other talents early on, so nothing is guaranteed here.

Since there are no past World championships at 79 kg, let’s take a look at the 2018 Continental championships for some other contenders. At the always tough European Championships, Martin Obst of Germany won a silver medal and Mihaly Nagy of Hungary won a bronze medal. Obst has won international medals in Germany, Cuba and Romania in the past. Nagy was eighth in the 2015 World Championships and was a 2016 University World silver medalist.

Two of the 2018 Pan American medalists were college wrestling stars in the United States, silver medalist Ethan Ramos of Puerto Rico (at North Carolina) and bronze medalist Santiago Martinez of Colombia (at Lehigh).

Dauletmurat Orazgylyov of Turkmenistan has been making a name for himself this year. He was third at the 2018 Ivan Yarygin Memorial and fifth at the 2018 Asian Championships, both down at 74 kg. He jumped up to 79 kg for the Medved International in Belarus and won a silver medal at that respected event, losing to American Alex Dieringer in the finals.

Grigor Grigoryan of Armenia was a 2017 European silver medalist at 74 kg, and was ninth in the 2013 Senior Worlds. Davit Khutishvili of Georgia was sixth in the 2012 Olympics and a 2010 Junior World champion. Sakan Aitzanov of Kazakhstan was second in the 2018 Bill Farrell International in the USA.

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

PAST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS

79 kg is a new international weight class in freestyle wrestling and has no past World results.

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)
1 Akhmed Gadzhimagomedov (Russia)
2 Jabrayil Hasanov (Azerbaijan)
3 Rashid Kurbanov (Uzbekistan)
4 Kyle Dake (USA)
5 Muhammet Nuri Kotanoglu (Turkey)
6 Rustam Dudaiev (Ukraine)
7 Santiago Martinez Restrepo (Colombia)
8 Martin Obst (Germany)
9 Ezzatollah Abbas Akbarizarinkolaei (Iran)
10 Mihaly Nagy (Hungary)