USA Wrestling 2018 World Champions...

2018 World Championships preview at 87 kg/191 lbs. in Greco-Roman

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Oct. 08, 2018, 11:44 a.m. (ET)

Patrick Martinez competing at the 2016 Bill Farrell Memorial International.

Dates of competition: Friday, October 26 and Saturday, October 27

One of the weight classes which should be highly entertaining in Budapest in Greco-Roman at 87 kg, where most of the top athletes from the former 85 kg have continued to compete, and there is a huge group of athletes with either past World or Olympic medals, or having reached World-level medal matches. You can toss the seeding aside at this weight class, as most of the hammers did not reach the top four in the UWW Ranking Series.

Leading the parade is 2017 World champion Metehan Basar of Turkey, a veteran who has been putting things together the last few years. After failing to qualify for the 2016 Olympics, he won a silver medal at the 2017 European Championships and had a great run at the Worlds in Paris. So far this year, he won the Mediterranean Games gold but failed to medal at the European Championships. His most recent finish was fifth at the Pytlasinski Memorial in Poland. Basar has some age-group achievements of note, a University World title and a Junior World bronze medal.

All four of the 2017 World medalists at 87 kg are expected in Budapest, and nine of the 10 who placed in the top 10 in Paris are projected to be in the field. In total, there will be at least eight past World or Olympic medalists who will be in the hunt at the Worlds.

The 2017 World silver medalist Denis Kudla of Germany, who also won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games, is a rising star in international Greco-Roman. A 2014 Junior World silver medalist, Kudla showed potential with a 2016 European bronze medal before making his medal run at the 2016 Rio Games. So far this year, he has won gold medals at the Thor Masters in Denmark and the Grand Prix of Germany, with a bronze at the European Championships. Kudla would like nothing better than to take the next step up on the podium with a gold in Budapest.

The field would really be loaded if 2015 World champion, 2016 Olympic silver medalist and 2014 World bronze medalist Zhan Beleniuk of Ukraine returns, as expected. He will most probably return at 87 kg, where he competed in three European international events this year, but could also be slotted in at 97 kg. Beleniuk won golds at the Vehbi Emre in Turkey and the Ukrainian Memorial International this year. At the Rio Olympics, where he lost in the finals to Russia’s Davit Chakvetadze, who is not expected in Budapest, Beleniuk won a 2017 Military World title, but did not enter the 2017 World Championships. He is a skilled and exciting wrestler to watch, and should be in the thick of things again.

Along with Kudla, there are two other past World silver medalists who should be in the field in Budapest, the 2015 World silver medalist at 85 kg, Rustam Assakalov of Uzbekistan, and a 2017 World silver medalist at 80 kg, Radzik Kuliev of Belarus.

Assakalov is coming off a year which he won silver medals at both the 2018 Asian Championships and 2018 Asian Games. In addition to his 2015 World silver at 85 kg, he was fifth in the 2017 World Championships at 98 kg, eighth at the 2016 Olympic Games at 85 kg and ninth in the 2013 World Championships at 84 kg. He has won six past medals at either the Asian Championships or Asian Games, including two gold medals.

Kuliev started his career at 75 kg, competed at 80 kg in 2016 and 2017, and moved up to 82 kg this year. His results at the new weight class include a bronze medal at the Ukrainian Memorial International and fifth place at the Vehbi Emre in Turkey. Kuliev won a silver medal at the 2017 European Championships at 80 kg, his best continental finish, but did not compete at this year’s Europeans.

2013 World bronze medalist Viktor Lorincz of Hungary will be a fan favorite in Budapest. He has qualified for three World or Olympic medal matches, also placing fifth at the 2016 Olympics and the 2015 World Championships, both at 85 kg. This year, he has won 87 kg gold medals at both the Grand Prix of Hungary and the Karavaev Memorial in Belarus and a bronze at the Grand Prix of Germany. He did not medal at the 2018 European Championships, but was the 2017 European champion at 85 kg.

Both 2017 World bronze medalists from 85 kg return at 87 kg this year, Hossein Ahmad Nouri of Iran and Roberti Kobliashvili of Georgia.

Nouri swept the gold medals at the 2018 Asian Championships and 2018 Asian Games, including a win over Assakalov in the Asian Games finals. He was also a 2017 Asian champion. Nouri’s bronze medal at the 2017 Worlds was his only World Championships appearance, with no entries at the age-group levels, either.

Kobliashvili has been successful this year, winning the 2018 European Championships and taking a silver medal at the Turlykhanov Memorial in Kazakhstan. He was ninth in the 2016 Olympic Games at 85 kg. With a 2016 European silver medal among his acheivements, he has established himself as a challenger at the big events.

2018 Russian National champion Bekhan Ozdoev enters his first Senior Worlds, and comes off a gold medal at the respected 2018 Poddubny Tournament in Russia and silver medal at the 2018 European Championships. A 2013 Junior World bronze medalist, Ozdoev has won a medal in the last seven events listed in the UWW database, including five gold medals.

There are three other wrestlers in the field who have competed in at least one Olympic or World medal match. Each have the potential to reach for the medal rounds again.

Making a pair of medal matches has been Rami Hietaniemi of Finland, who was fifth at the 2015 World Championships at 85 kg and fifth in the 2013 World Championships at 84 kg. He was also a 2012 and 2016 Olympian. Heitaniemi has won a single medal in four international events at 87 kg this year, taking third at the Herman Kare Tournament in Finland.

Islam Abbasov of Azerbaijan was fifth at 85 kg in 2017 World Championships. Abbasov has consistently battled for medals throughout his career, including bagging five medals at 87 kg this year, which has secured him the No. 1 seed in Budapest. His gold came at the European U23 Championships, with silvers at the Oleg Karavaev in Belarus and the Vehbi Emre in Turkey, and a bronze at the Military Worlds. At the 2018 European Championships, he finished fifth. In 2017, he won a U23 World bronze medal and a Military World bronze medal. He won the 2014 Junior Worlds and claimed a 2015 Junior World silver medal, in addition to two Cadet World titles. This guy is a proven winner.

Tadeusz Michalik of Poland won his World fifth place at 80 kg in 2014. Michalik does not have as rich a resume as some of the others, but has been competing at the Senior level since 2011 and boasts a number of medals. He won a 2014 World University bronze medal. Most recently, he was third at the Pytlasinski Memorial in Poland, as a tune-up for Budapest.

Patrick Martinez of the United States is entering his third Senior World Championships, and, with the exception of lightweight Sam Hazewinkel, is the most veteran of the American team members. Martinez has considerable international experience going back to 2014, and seems to be very strong and aggressive at 87 kg. Regardless of the opponent, Martinez will be capable of winning matches and challenging for the medal rounds.

2017 European champion Tarek Abdelslam of Bulgaria has three won four medals at 87 kg this winter, including a gold at the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria, and bronze medals at the Takhti Cup in Iran, the Kartozia and Balavadze International in Georgia and the Pytlasinski Memorial in Poland. 2016 Olympian Zakarias Berg of Sweden has won medals in five straight international events in Europe this year, including a gold at the recent Pytlasinski Memorial in Poland. 2018 Asian Championships bronze medalist Masato Sumi of Japan also won a bronze at the Vehbe Emre in Turkey this season.

Two-time African champion Adem Boudjemline of Algeria has won four international medals at 87 kg this year, including two silvers and two bronzes. 2018 Asian Games bronze medalist Azamat Kustabayev of Kazakhstan was 10th in the 2017 Worlds and won a bronze at the 2018 Takhti Cup in Iran. 2018 Pan American Champion Daniel Gregorich Hechavarria was seventh at the 2017 World Championships, his first Senior World appearance. 2016 Olympian Amer Hrustanovic of Austria won silver medals at 87 kg this year at the Grand Prix of Spain and the German Grand Prix.

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


2017 World Championships
85 kg/187.5 lbs. - Gold - Metehan Basar (Turkey); Silver - Denis Kudla (Germany); Bronze - Hossein Ahmad Nouri (Iran) ; Bronze - Roberti Kobliashvili (Georgia); 5th - Islam Abbasov (Azerbaijan), 4-0; 5th - Davit Chakvetadze (Russia); 7th - Daniel Hechevarria (Cuba); 8th - Viktor Lorincz (Hungary); 9th - Nikolay Bayryakov (Bulgaria) ; 10th - Azamat Kustabayev (Kazakhstan)

2016 Olympic Games
85 kg/187 lbs. – Gold – David Chakvetadze (Russia); Silver – Zhan Beleniuk (Ukraine); Bronze – Javid Gamzatov (Belarus); Bronze – Denis Kudla (Germany); Fifth – Nikolay Bayryakov (Bulgaria); Fifth – Viktor Lorincz (Hungary); Seventh – Habibollah Akhlaghi (Iran); Eighth – Rustam Assakalov (Uzbekistan); Ninth – Roberti Kobliashvili (Georgia); Tenth – Amer Hrustanovic (Austria)

2015 World Championships
85 kg/187 lbs. – Gold – Zhan Beleniuk (Ukraine); Silver – Rustam Assakalov (Uzbekistan); Bronze – Habibollah Akhlaghi (Iran); Bronze – Saman Tahmasebi (Azerbaijan); 5th – Rami Hietaniemi (Finland); 5th – Viktor Loerincz (Hungary); 7th – Damian Janikowski (Poland); 8th – Nenad Zugaj (Croatia); 9th – Ramsin Azizsir (Germany); 10th – David Chakvetadze (Russia)

2014 World Championships
85 kg/187 lbs. – Gold – Melonin Noumonvi (France); Silver – Saman Tahmasebi (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Viktor Loerincz (Hungary); Bronze – Zhan Beleniuk (Ukraine); 5th – Kristofer Johansson (Sweden); 5th – Ramsin Azizsir (Germany); 7th – Javid Gamzatov (Belarus); 8th – Masayuki Amano (Japan); 9th – Ahmed Ibrahim (Egypt); 10th – Vladimer Gegeshidze (Georgia)

2013 World Championships
84 kg/185 lbs. – Gold - Taleb Nematpour (Iran); Silver - Saman Tahmasebi (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Javid Gamzatov (Belarus); Bronze - Viktor Loerincz (Hungary); 5th - Damian Janikowski (Poland); 5th - Rami Hietaniemi (Finland); 7th - Nenad Zugaj (Croatia); 8th - Maksim Manukyan (Armenia); 9th – Rustam Assakalov (Uzbekistan); 10th - Nursultan Tursynov (Kazakhstan)

2012 Olympic Games
84 kg/185 lbs. – Gold - Alan Khugaev (Russia); Silver - Karam Gaber (Egypt); Bronze - Danjel Gajiyev (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Damian Janikowski (Poland); 5th - Vladimer Gegeshidze (Georgia); 5th - Melonin Noumonvi (France); 7th - Pablo Shorey (Cuba); 8th - Vasil Rachyba (Ukraine); 9th - Chas Betts (USA); 10th - Amer Hrustanovic (Austria)

UWW Rankings Series standings (for seeding)
1 Islam Abbasov (Azerbaijan)
2 Khussein Mutsolgov (Kazakhstan)
3 Masato Sumi (Japan)
4 Roberti Kobliashvili (Georgia)
5 Bekkhan Ozdoev (Russia)
6 Daniel Gregorich Hechevarria (Cuba)
7 Kristoffer Zakarias Berg (Sweden)
8 Denis Maksymilian Kudla (Germany)
9 Fei Peng (China)
10 Mikita Klimovich (Belarus)