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2018 World Championships preview at 65 kg/143 lbs. in men’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Sept. 25, 2018, 9:51 a.m. (ET)

2016 World champion Logan Stieber, shown at the 2017 Worlds, is moving back up to 65 kg to seek a World gold medal this year. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.

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

With 65 kg as one of the six Olympic weight classes in men’s freestyle wrestling, many top international stars are finding their way to this weight class, a large number who are moving up to take on the challenge.

There are two multiple World champions who have decided with the new weigh-in procedures to move up into this weight class, Haji Aliev of Azerbaijan and Vladimer Khinchegashvili of Georgia.

Moving on up is three-time World champion Aliev, who won World gold medals in 2014, 2015 and 2017 at 61 kg. He was third in the 2016 Olympics at 57 kg. Aliev has been competing at 65 kg this year, winning the 2018 European gold medal, and claiming silvers at the Ukrainian Memorial International and the Medved International in Belarus. Another talented star, he is a consistent medalist at international events, and will have confidence in making this step up in weight.

Khichegashvili won the 2016 Olympic Games at 57 kg in Rio, and was a silver medalist at the 2012 Olympic Games in London at 55 kg. He also boasts a World gold medal from 2015 at 57 kg. Last year, he moved up to 61 kg, where he added a World bronze medal. He will jump up one more weight class in Budapest to the Olympic weight of 65 kg, where he has won three medals this year. He was a bronze medalist at the 2018 European Championships, a silver medalist at the Ziolkowski Memorial in Poland, and a bronze medalist at the Ukrainian Memorial International. Regardless of age-group and weight, he always finds a way to be in the medals.

Also in the field is 2016 World champion Logan Stieber of the USA, who won his World gold at 61 kg in 2016. Stieber also competed at 61 kg in the 2017 Worlds, where he did not medal. Stieber is actually returning to 65 kg, where he wrestled for a few years leading up to the 2016 Olympic Trials. This year, Stieber won the Pan American Championships at 65 kg. At the 2018 World Cup in Iowa City, Stieber won his match against Aliev, 6-3 in the championship finals dual. One of only four four-time NCAA Div. I champions, Stieber has all the tools to win another World title

There are two 2016 World medalists at 65 kg who are staying at this weight class to compete in Budapest, 2017 World silver medalist Magomedmurad Gadzhiev of Poland and 2017 World bronze medalist Alejandro Valdes Tobier of Cuba.

Gadzhiev has bounced between 65 kg and 70 kg the last few years. He competed in the 2016 Olympic Games at 65 kg, and also wrestled at that weight at the 2015 World Championships, where he was seventh. However, he was a 2106 European champion at 70 kg and was second in the 2018 European Championships at 70 kg. Gadzhiev is a Russian transplant, winning a 2008 Junior World title for Russia, before starting his career in Poland in 2014.

Valdes was seventh in the 2016 Olympics at 65 kg, and has stayed at this weight for a number of years. He was third in the 2018 Pan American Championships and won the Central American and Caribbean Games this year. Among Valdes’ wins at the 2018 World Cup was a pin of Aliev, and he won three of his four bouts there. This is a talented athlete who likes to throw when he can get in that position.

2016 World bronze medalist Akhmed Chakaev of Russia is another top challenger. He has been strong this year, winning the Russian Nationals and the Ziolkowski Memorial in Poland, and taking second at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix. He was a European silver medalist at 61 kg in 2017, and has moved up in weight like many others who will be in Budapest. Stieber beat Chakaev in a crazy 13-11 match at the 2016 Worlds, and Chakaev battled back for the bronze medal. Another option for Russia is Ilyas Bekbulatov, who is No. 2 in the UWW Ranking Series.

A 2015 World bronze medalist at 61 kg was Vasyl Shuptar of Ukraine, who is fresh off a gold medal at the tough Medved International in Belarus. He was a 2012 World University Champion and won a bronze medal in the 2013 World University Games. Shuptar made the move to 65 kg this year at the Takhti Cup in Iran, where he won a bronze, and he also took home a silver from the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria this winter.

The other past World medalist expected in Budapest is Bajrang of India, who was third at the 2014 Worlds at 61 kg and fifth at the 2015 Worlds as well. Bajrang has won gold medals in four straight international events, most recently the 2018 Asian Games. He also took titles at the Commonwealth Games, the Kartozia and Balavadze International in Georgia and the Yasar Dogu in Turkey.

Another experienced athlete expected in Budapest who has reached a World medal match is Andrei Perpelita of Moldova, who was fifth in the 2014 World Championships at 61 kg. He has been in six previous Senior World events, also taking seventh at the 2016 Worlds. His top age-level performance was a silver at the 2010 University Worlds. In three events up at 65 kg this year, he has not yet won a medal.

2014 World University champion Selahattin Kilicsallayan of Turkey is No. 1 in the UWW Ranking Series standings, having won bronze medals at the European Championships and the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia, plus a fifth-place finish at the Medved International in Belarus. A 2013 Junior World champion, this will be his first Senior Worlds, in spite of a lengthy resume of international events.

Mehran Nasiriafrachali of Iran was third in the 2016 University World Championships, and is fresh off a gold medal at the tough Yasar Dogu in Turkey. He was also second in the 2015 World Military Games, and will be competing in his first Senior Worlds this year.

Japan has some solid depth at this weight, but looks to be sending 2015 Cadet World champion and 2013 Cadet World bronze medalist Takuto Otoguro to the Senior Worlds. Otoguro split duties with Daichi Takatani at the 2018 World Cup, and scored a win over Logan Stieber of the USA in their dual meet.

David Habat of Slovenia was an All-American for Edinboro in college, and just missed qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games with some solid efforts in the qualifying events. Habat was fifth in this year’s European Championships and third in the 2016 European Championships.

2018 Asian Games bronze medalist Sayatpek Okasov of Kazakhstan has considerable experience. Heorgi Kaliyeu of Belarus, fifth at the 2017 U23 Worlds, was 10th at the Senior Worlds in 2016 and a silver medalist at the 2016 European Championships. 2018 World Military silver medalist Alexander Semisorow of Germany is a rising young talent. 2017 World Military silver medalist George Bucur of Romania was eighth in the 2015 World Championships.

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


2017 World Championships
65 kg/143 lbs. - Gold - Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia); Silver - Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (Poland); Bronze –Alan Gogaev (Russia) ; Bronze –Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba); 5th - Mustafa Kaya (Turkey); 5th - Azamat Nurykau (Belarus); 7th - Adam Batirov (Bahrain); 8th - Franklin Gomez Matos (Puerto Rico); 9th - Aghahuseyn Mustafayev (Azerbaijan); 10th - Meisam Nasiri (Iran)

2016 Olympic Games
65 kg/143 lbs. – Gold – Soslan Ramonov (Russia); Silver – Toghrul Asgarov (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Frank Chamizo (Italy); Bronze – Ikhtiyor Navruzov (Uzbekistan); 5th – Frank Molinaro (United States); 5th – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia); 7th – Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba); 8th – Borislav Novachkov (Bulgaria); 9th – Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico); 10th – Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia)

2015 World Championships
65 kg/143 lbs. - Gold – Frank Chamizo (Italy); Silver – Ikhtiyor Navruzov (Uzbekistan); Bronze – Soslan Ramonov (Russia); Bronze – Sayed Mohammadi (Iran); 5th – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia); 5th – Toghrul Asgarov (Azerbaijan); 7th – Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (Poland); 8th – George Bucur (Romania); 9th – Avtandil Kentchadze (Georgia); 10th – Brent Metcalf (United States)

2014 World Championships
65 kg/143 lbs. - Gold – Soslan Ramonov (Russia); Silver – Seyed Mohammadi (Iran); Bronze – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia); Bronze – Mihail Sava (Moldova); 5th – Azamat Nurkykau (Belarus); 5th – Mustafa Kaya (Turkey); 7th – Daichi Takatani (Japan); 8th – Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico); 9th – George Burcur (Romania); 10th – Magomed Muslimov (Azerbaijan)

2013 World Championships
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Gold – David Safaryan (Armenia); Silver – Livan Lopez (Cuba); Bronze – Magomed Kurbanaliev (Russia); Bronze – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia); 5th – Levan Kelekhsashvili (Georgia); 5th - Jin Hyok Kang (Korea); 7th - Saba Bolaghi (Germany); 8th - Haislan Garcia (Canada); 9th - Takahiro Inoue (Japan); 10th - Alexandr Kontoyev (Belarus)

2012 Olympics
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Gold – Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu (Japan); Silver – Sushil Kumar (India); Bronze – Akhzurek Tantarov (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Livan Lopez (Cuba); 5th – Ramazan Sahin (Turkey); 5th – Jabrayil Hasanov (Azerbaijan); 7th – Haislan Garcia (Canada); 8th – David Safaryan (Armenia); 9th – Ikhtiyor Nazruzov (Uzbekistan); 10th – Ali Shabanau (Belarus)

Current UWW Ranking Series Standings (for seeding)
1 Selahattin Kilicsallyan (Turkey)
2 Ilias Bekbulatov (Russia)
3 Bajrang (India)
4 Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan)
5 Daulet Niyazbekov (Kazakhstan)
6 Mehran Akbar Nasiriafrachali (Iran)
7 Yones Aliakbar Emamichoghaei (Iran)
8 Vladimer Khinchegashvili (Georgia)
9 Logan Stieber (USA)
10 Daichi Takatani (Japan)