WRESTLING Preview: U.S. men’s Freestyle squad starts Wrestling Worlds with three top seeds

A fifth World Championships gold for American Freestyle wrestling star Jordan Burroughs? (Photo: Lima 2019)

In 2017, the wrestling world was stunned by the U.S. men’s Freestyle team, which took the team title away from perennial power Russia by a point, 54-53. The Russians got the title back last year under the new scoring system by 178-150, but the battle will continue in Nur-Sultan (KAZ) this weekend as the UWW World Championships conclude.

The American team enters with three top seeds in the draw – Kyle Dake (79 kg), J’Den Cox (92 kg) and Kyle Snyder at 97 kg – more than any other country. And that doesn’t count four-time World Champion Jordan Burroughs, seeded second at 74 kg, or Nick Gwiazdowski, seeded fourth at 125 kg.

Turkey has two top seeds in Suleyman Atli (57 kg) and Fatih Erdin at 86 kg. Russia has just three seeded wrestlers overall, but are expected to show well, as always.

There are eight returning champions from 2018 in the 10 weight classes and the top-four seeds show the possibility of four potential matches between current and former World Champions: at 57 kg, 74 kg (three World titlists in the same class!), 97 kg and 125 kg. The top seeds:

57 kg:
1. Suleyman Atli (TUR) ~ 2018 Worlds bronze medalist
2. Zavur Uguev (RUS) ~ 2018 World Champion
3. Yuki Takahashi (JPN) ~ 2017 World Champion; 2018 Worlds bronze
4. Nurislam Sanayev (KAZ) ~ 2018 Worlds silver medalist

61 kg:
1. Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez (CUB) ~ 2018 World Champion
2. Rahul Aware (IND)
3. Beka Lomtadze (GEO) ~ 2016 Worlds silver medalist
4. Nikolai Okhlopkov (ROU)

65 kg:
1. Bajrang Punia (IND) ~ 2018 Worlds silver medalist
2. Takuto Otoguro (JPN) ~ 2018 World Champion
3. Selahattin Kilicsallayan (TUR)
4. Sayatbek Okassov (KAZ)

70 kg:
1. Adam Batirov (BRN) ~ 2018 Worlds silver medalist
2. Nurkozha Kapoanov (KAZ)
3. Yones Emamichoghaei (IRI)
4. Zurabi Iakobishvili (GEO) ~ 2018 Worlds bronze medalist

74 kg:
1. Frank Chamizo (ITA) ~ 2015 World Champ (65 kg); 2017 World Champ (70 kg)
2. Jordan Burroughs (USA) ~ 2011-13-15-17 World Champion; 2014-18 Worlds bronzes
3. Zaurbek Sidakov (RUS) ~ 2018 World Champion
4. Avtandil Kentchadze (GEO) ~ 2018 Worlds silver medalist

79 kg:
1. Kyle Dake (USA) ~ 2018 World Champion
2. Jabrayil Hasanov (AZE) ~ 2018 Worlds silver medalist; 2016 Olympic bronze
3. Muhammet Kotanoglu (TUR)
4. Bahman Teymouri (IRI)

86 kg:
1. Fatih Erdin (TUR) ~ 2018 Worlds silver medalist
2. Boris Makoev (SVK) ~ 2017 Worlds silver medalist; 2015 Worlds bronze
3. Hassan Yazdani (IRI) ~ 2016 Olympic gold; 2017 World Champion
4. Deepak Punia (IND) ~ 2019 World Junior Champion

92 kg:
1. J’Den Cox (USA) ~ 2018 World Champion
2. Alireza Karimimachiani (IRI) ~ 2018 Worlds bronze medalist
3. Ivan Yankouski (BLR) ~ 2018 Worlds silver medalist
4. Irakli Mtsituri (GEO)

97 kg:
1. Kyle Snyder (USA) ~ 2016 Olympic gold medalist; 2015-17 World Champion
2. Abdulrashid Sulaev (RUS) ~ 2016 Olympic gold (86 kg); 2014-15-18 World Champion
3. Batzul Ulziisaikhan (MGL)
4. Elzibar Odikadze (GEO)

125 kg:
1. Geno Petriashvili (GEO) ~ 2017-18 World Champion; 2016 Olympic bronze
2. Zhiwei Deng (CHN) ~ 2018 Worlds silver medalist
3. Taha Akgul (TUR) ~ 2016 Olympic gold; 2014-15 World Champion
4. Nick Gwiazdowski (USA) ~ 2017-18 Worlds bronze medalist

The 74 kg class with Chamizo, Burroughs and Sidakov will be amazing, with the 97 kg class pitting the winners of the last five World Champions and the last four in the 125 kg class. Wow!

Look for results here.