2019 World Championships preview at 92 kg/202 lbs. in men’s freestyle

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | Sept. 05, 2019, 5:39 p.m. (ET)
J'den Cox of the USA gets advice from Assistant National Coach Kevin Jackson at the 2018 World Championships.

COMPETITION DATES: Sept. 20-21

USA’s J’den Cox, the defending World champion at 92 kg, returns to the field as the favorite in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

Since his international career began in 2016, Cox has only suffered a handful of losses and has earned a spot on the podium at event international event he has competed in.

On the World and Olympic stage, Cox has impressed, winning bronze medals at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 World Championships before capturing his first World title last October in Budapest, Hungary.

Since October, Cox won the 2019 Pan American Championships and the Yasar Dogu International, earning him the No. 1 seed at Worlds.

Domestically, Cox has been unstoppable, going unbeaten on American soil over the past two years. His last loss domestically was to David Taylor in the 2017 World Team Trials. Taylor took the first match in a best-of-three series, but Cox rallied to win the World Team spot.

Looking to knock off the returning World champion is 2012 Olympic champion and 2011 World champion Sharif Sharifov from Azerbaijan.

Sharifov is well accomplished. In addition to his World and Olympic gold medals, Sharifov also owns a 2016 Olympic bronze medal and a 2009 World bronze medal. However, last year, he took 18th at the World Championships.

Since then, he won the 2019 European Championships at 92 kg.

The last time Cox and Sharifov wrestled was in the International Ukrainian Tournament finals. It was an exciting back-and-forth match with Sharifov eventually taking an 8-7 win.

Also expected to compete is 2018 World silver medalist Ivan Yankouski of Belarus, who lost to Cox in the 2018 World finals, 4-1. Since then, he has wrestled in several tournaments but only produced podium finishes in two of his outings.

Bringing in the No. 2 seed to Kazakhstan is Alireza Mohammad Karimimachiani of Iran, who is a two-time World bronze medalist, taking third in 2015 and 2018.

Also a 2014 World champ and 2011 Cadet World silver medalist, Karimimachiani won the Asian Championships and the City of Sassari Tournament earlier this year to put him opposite of Cox.

Holding the No. 3 seed is Magomed Kurbanov of Russia and No. 4 is Batyrbek Tcakulov of Russia, however, Russia submitted Alikhan Zhabrailov as its representative.

Zhabrailov took fourth at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in January and also earned gold at the Ali Aliev Tournament in May.

Other names to watch out for include 2017 U23 World bronze medalist Irakli Mtsituri of Georgia, 2012 Junior World bronze medalist Nyambayar Baatar of Mongolia and 2011 Junior World silver medalist Georgii Rubaev of Moldova.

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (used for seeding)
1. J'Den COX (USA)
2. Alireza KARIMIMACHIANI (Iran)
3. Magomed KURBANOV (Russia)
4. Batyrbek TCAKULOV (Russia)
5. Atsushi MATSUMOTO (Japan)
6. Ivan YANKOUSKI (Belarus)
7. Viky VIKY (India)
8. Irakli MTSITURI (Georgia)
9. Ibrahim BOLUKBASI (Turkey)
10. Ulziisaikhan BAASANTSOGT (Mongolia)

Recent World results

2018 World Championships
92 kg/202 lbs. - Gold – J’den Cox (USA); Silver - Ivan Yankouski (Belarus); Bronze - Atsushi Matsumoto (Japan); Bronze - Alireza Karimimachiani (Iran); 5th - Turtogtokh Luvsandorj (Mongolia); 5th - Dato Marsagishvili (Georgia); 7th - Batyrbek Tcakulov (Russia); 8th - Nicolai Ceban (Moldova); 9th - Liubomyr Sagaliuk (Ukraine); 10th - Jacob Luczak (Canada)

Note: The 92 kg weight class was started in 2018 and has no results prior to that