COMPETITION DATE: Sept. 21-22
One of the most anticipated matchups of the entire men’s freestyle tournament comes at 97 kg, where USA’s Kyle Snyder and Russia’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev have battled to hold the top spot in the world over the past few years.
Sadulaev is the reigning World champion, winning the 2018 gold medal with a pin over Snyder in the finals. The year before, Snyder was victorious over Sadulaev in a nail-biting decision in the gold-medal match.
Snyder’s win over Sadualev in the 2017 finals pushed the USA past Russia in the team race for a first-place finish.
The pair met for the first time in 2017 after Sadulaev bumped up from 86 kg.
In 2016, both wrestlers won Olympic championships—Snyder at 97 kg and Sadulaev at 86 kg.
Additionally, Snyder, owns a 2015 World title at 97 kg, while Sadulaev has gold medals from the 2014 and 2015 World Championships at 86 kg.
For the third year in a row, Snyder and Sadulaev, both just 23 years old, will be on opposite sides of the bracket as Snyder comes in as the No. 1 seed and Sadulaev the No. 2 seed. The pair are expected to battle it out once again for the title.
Outside of those two, there are multiple other Olympic medalists in the field, including 2012 Olympic silver medalist Valerii Andriitsev of Ukraine and 2016 Olympic bronze winners Albert Saritov of Romania and Magomed Idrisovitch Ibragimov of Uzbekistan.
Andriitsev and Saritov also own World medals with Andriitsev winning bronze in 2014 and Saritov claiming bronze in 2011.
Two-time World champion and two-time World bronze medalist Reza Mohammad Ali Yazdani of Iran is also expected to compete in Kazakhstan. Yazdani won World titles in 2011 and 2013 and picked up back-to-back World bronze medals in 2006 and 2007.
Other names to look out for are 2018 World bronze medalist Elizbar Odikadze of Georgia and 2015 Junior World champion Nurmagomed Gadzhiev of Azerbaijan.
Current UWW Ranking Series standings (used for seeding)
1. Kyle SNYDER (USA)
2. Abdulrashid SADULAEV (Russia)
3. Batzul ULZIISAIKHAN (Mongolia)
4. Abraham de Jesus CONYEDO RUANO (Italy)
5. Elizbar ODIKADZE (Georgia)
6. Igor OVSIANNIKOV (Russia)
7. Baki SAHIN (Turkey)
8. Reza Mohammad Ali YAZDANI (Iran)
9. Pavlo OLIINYK (Ukraine)
10. Aliaksandr HUSHTYN (Belarus)