2018 World Championships preview at 82 kg/180.5 lbs. in Greco-Roman

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Oct. 05, 2018, 4:31 p.m. (ET)
Geordan Speiller, shown at the 2018 U.S. Open which he won, will be competing in his first Senior World Championships. Photo by John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com

Dates of competition: Thursday, October 25 and Friday, October 26

Many of the competitors at the new 82 kg weight class at the Greco-Roman Worlds in Budapest have moved up from the previous 80 kg division. There are a considerable number of past World medalists in this non-Olympic weight class, including three past World champions.

The 2017 World champion at 80 kg, Maksim Manukyan of Armenia, won the 82 kg gold medal at the European Championships this year. A 2016 Olympian at 85 kg, Manukyan will be in his fourth Senior Worlds. He won a 2013 World University Games silver medal and a 2014 World Military bronze medal.

Another World champion in the expected field is from host Hungary, 2014 World champion Peter Bacsi, who was also fifth in the 2016 Olympics and the 2008 Olympics. In addition to his three Olympic appearances, Bacsi has wrestled in five previous Senior World Championships. This year, he has won medals in all three of his tournaments at 82 kg, winning golds at the Cerro Pelado in Cuba and the Grand Prix of Germany, plus a silver medal at the Grand Prix of Hungary. It won’t hurt that he is competing in front of hometown fans in Budapest.

2011 World champion Saeid Morad Abdvali of Iran has not competed in a major international event in 2018, so he has no results at 82 kg. However, he has been a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and also won a bronze medal at the 2017 World Championships, both at 75 kg. Abdvali was also a 2012 Olympian and won Junior World gold medals in both 2008 and 2009. Add in a Military World title in 2013, and a 2010 Asian Games title, and he has one of the best resumes of anybody in this field.

A 2015 World silver medalist, Viktar Sasunouski of Belarus, was second to Manukyan in the 2018 European Championships at 82 kg. He has three other international medals at his new weight class this year, winning the Palusalu Memorial in Estonia, getting a silver at the Grand Prix of Zagreb in Croatia and taking bronze at the Vehbi Emre in Turkey. A 2016 World University bronze medalist, he also won a bronze at the 2015 European Games.

2013 World bronze medalist Emrah Kus of Turkey has seemed to fit well at this new weight class. He won gold medals at the Takhti Cup in Iran and the Pytlasinski Memorial in Poland this year, as well as a silver medal at the Vehbi Emre in Turkey.

Lasha Gobadze of Georgia won a World bronze medal at 80 kg in 2015 in Las Vegas. He made the finals in all three of his tournaments this season, with golds at 82 kg at the Kartozia and Balavadze International in Georgia and the Vehbi Emre in Turkey, and a silver medal when he moved up to 87 kg at the Karavaev Memorial in Belarus. Toss in a 2017 U23 World silver medal, as well as World bronze medals at the Junior and Cadet levels, and you have an experienced and successful contender here.

2010 World bronze medalist Imil Sharafetdinov of Russia has had a strong year at 82 kg, winning the Russian Nationals and the World Military Championships, as well as a bronze medal at the respected Ivan Poddubny International in Russia. Although in only his second Senior Worlds, Sharafetdinov has won numerous international medals, including seven medals at the Poddubny International, one of the world’s toughest open Greco-Roman tournaments.

Earning the No. 1 seed at this weight class by winning the UWW Ranking Series standings is Daniel Aleksandrov of Bulgaria, who was fifth in the 2017 World Championships at 80 kg. So far this year, Aleksandrov won a silver medal at the Takhti Cup in Iran, and added bronze medals at the European Championships and the Pytlasinski Cup, along with a fifth place at the Vehbi Emre in Turkey. A 2016 Olympian, Aleksandrov was also a 2014 World University silver medalist. He brings positive momentum into Budapest at his new weight class.

The USA will be represented by 2018 Pan American silver medalist Geordan Speiller, who is competing in his first Senior World Championships. Speiller is no rookie at the World level, however, with two Junior World appearances as well as competing at the 2013 World University Games. He has won medals in international events in the USA, Hungary, Cuba, Croatia and Greece, plus won a Pan American Senior gold medal in 2016. Speiller has been on the cusp of making past U.S. World Team, and may be the perfect fit for this new weight class for a medal run in Budapest.

2018 Asian silver medalist Atabek Azisbekov of Kyrgyzstan is another medal threat. Also at 82 kg this season, he was third in the Grand Prix of Hungary and fifth at the Vehbi Emre in Turkey. His resume also includes a silver medal at the at the 2017 Asian Indoor Games and a 2012 Cadet World bronze medal.

2018 Asian bronze medalist Jin-Hyeok Kim of Korea should also be in the hunt. A 2012 Olympian, he was a 2015 World Military Games champion and in his youth was a 2006 Cadet World champion. His most recent performance was fifth place at the Kartozia and Balavadze International in Georgia. His top Senior World performance was ninth at the 2015 Worlds at 80 kg.

Edgar Babayan of Poland is also looking to make a run. He won a gold at the Nikola Petrov in Bulgaria this year, and finished fifth at the Grand Prix of Germany. His top Senior World finish was eighth at the 2016 World Championships. He placed second at the 2016 European Championships, and boasts a 2005 World University bronze medal.

Austria’s Michael Wagner is another veteran who is capable of making his mark at this new weight class. Wagner won a bronze medal at the Palusalu Memorial in Estonia this year, and has been very active at 82 kg, entering seven international events this year. He was eighth at the 2017 World Championships at 80 kg, and has been in five Senior World meets.

Maxat Yerezhepov of Kazakhstan also brings a wealth of experience to Budapest. He was an Asian bronze medalist this year at 77 kg, and claimed the World Military bronze medal at that weight. However, he has also logged time at 82 kg. A 2017 Asian champion, he has been winning medals at the Senior level going back to 2011.

Azerbaijan is expected to enter Eltun Vazirzade into his first Senior World tournament. Vazirade was second in the 2017 Military Worlds and has won a bronze medal at the U23 European Championships for the last three years.

2018 Pan American champion Luis Avenado Rojas of Venezuela beat Speiller in the finals this year. A three-time Pan American medalist, he was also fifth at the 2015 Pan American Games.

Others to watch include Petr Novak of Czechia, Roland Schwarz of Germany and Yuya Maeta of Japan.

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


2017 World Championships
80 kg/176 lbs. - Gold – Maksim Manukyan (Armenia); Silver - Radik Kuliev (Belarus); Bronze –Pascual Eisele (Germany); Bronze – Elvin Mursaliev (Azerbaijan); 5th - Zurabi Datunashvili (Georgia); 5th - Daniel Aleksandrov (Bulgaria); 7th - Zied Ait Ouagram (Morocco); 8th - Michael Wagner (Austria); 9th - Alex Michel Bjurberg Kessidis (Sweden); 10th - Askhat Dilmukhamedov (Kazakhstan)

2016 World Championships
80 kg/176 lbs. – Gold – Ramazan Abacharaev (Russia); Silver – Aslan Atem (Turkey); Bronze – Jonibek Otabekov (Uzbekistan); Bronze – Laszlo Szabo (Hungary); Fifth – Nikoloz Kelasov (Georgia); Fifth – Askhat Dilmukhamedov (Kazakhstan); Seventh – Pascal Eisele (Germany); Eighth – Edgar Babayan (Poland); Ninth – Soh Sakabe (Japan); Tenth – Rafig Huseynov (Azerbaijan)

2015 World Championships
80 kg/176 lbs. – Gold – Seluck Cebi (Turkey); Silver – Viktar Sasunouski (Belarus); Bronze – Yousef Ghaderian (Iran); Bronze – Lasha Gobadze (Georgia); Fifth – Askhat Dilmukhamedov (Kazakhstan); Fifth – Samat Shirdakov (Kyrgyzstan); Seventh – Laszlo Szabo (Hungary); Eighth – Evgeny Saleev (Russia); Ninth – Jinhyeok Kim (Korea); Tenth – Pavel Powada (Czech Republic)

2014 World Championships
80 kg/176 lbs. – Gold – Peter Bacsi (Hungary); Silver – Evgeni Saleev (Russia); Bronze – Selcuk Cebi (Turkey); Bronze – Jim Pettersson (Sweden); Fifth – Bozo Starcevic (Croatia); Fifth – Tadeusz Michalik (Poland); Seventh – Habibollah Akhlaghi (Iran); Eighth – Pascal Eisele (Germany); Ninth – Jonas Bossert (Switzerland); Tenth – Aleksandr Kazakevic (Lithuania)

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)
1 Daniel Tihomirov Aleksandrov (Bulgaria)
2 Atabek Azisbekov (Kyrgyzstan)
3 Viktar Sasunouski (Belarus)
4 Emrah Kus (Turkey)
5 Laszlo Szabo (Hungary)
6 Zarko Dickov (Serbia)
7 Maksim Manukyan (Armenia)
8 Yousef Ahmad Ghaderian (Iran)
9 Rafig Huseynov (Azerbaijan)
10 Roland Schwarz (Germany)