Headlining the event is a four-time world champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs versus defending world champion Frank Chamizo. Burroughs has the speed, experience and size while Chamizo has arguably the best hips in all of wrestling. The style matchup has the wrestling world buzzing: Who will win, and how?
I've spent a lot of time watching these two compete and while it would be foolish to predict how things will suss out point for point, I think there are habits we are likely to see next week at the South Street Seaport.
Burroughs tends to start slow, build momentum at the end of the first period and then erupt for points in the second period. It's not uncommon to see him go 2-1 into the break and then spend the first minute of the second period putting together a technique tape on double legs. He also doesn't tend to score a lot from top and when he does it's usually a bundle leg lace coming immediately out of a double leg that naturally ended near his opponent's ankles. Burroughs is solid from bottom par terre and rarely find himself exposed.
In terms of match momentum Chamizo plays ying to Burroughs' yang. The Cuban's defense is so mind-bending that often he allows over-aggressive opponents to shoot early, often turning those attempts into two and four-point moves. However, once Chamizo accumulates a four-point lead the confidence in his defense pushes him to lead protect. There are still foot sweeps and high level single leg snatches, but for the most part he turns off the pressure.
When Chamizo gets less active he finds himself standing upright, backing to the edge and giving up pushout points. Watch his 2016 Olympic semifinal and the 2018 European semifinal to see examples of just what happens when Chamizo gets too defensive. He's adequate on top and near immovable from par terre.
Burroughs will have size on Chamizo -- maybe as much as 10 pounds with the day before weigh-in and three-kilogram weight allowance (as is the norm for Beat the Streets). The size, and tendency to score late against an opponent who often plays the clock, should give Burroughs an edge.
The dual meet isn't just about Burroughs and Chamizo. Jordan Oliver and Toghrul Asgarov are meeting in the night's other "supermatch." The duo, who each found themselves off suspension last month, could create quite the stir for fans interested in seeing wrestling as a form of competitive, interpretive dance.
Oliver is a more traditional styled wrestler albeit with low singles and creative finishes. Meanwhile Asgarov is like an abstractionist painter on mushrooms, contorting his body in ways that other wrestlers simply don't and capitalizing from overhooks unlike any wrestler we've seen. In addition to his creativity he has some of the sharpest match management skills in the sport.
Neither should be in particularly great shape, but one would expect Oliver to be in better shape than Asgarov who took the entire 2013 and most of the 2014 season to eat and chill out. More clearly stated, there is a chance Asgarov comes in a little soft around the belt line.
What few people have mentioned so far is the night's other incredibly interesting matchup between Helen Maroulis and Odunayo Adekuoroye of Nigeria. The two wrestled to a 6-6 matchup at the 2015 Golden Grand Prix in Baku, with Helen winning on criteria. Since then Odunayo has only lost in the world finals and in the Indian Pro League, where Helen also took a loss to the same opponent, Pooja Dhanda.
Odunayo Adekuoroye celebrates after reaching the world finals in 2017 (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Odunayo started wrestling late and has emerged in the past two years with more techniques than she showed in her bronze-medal performance in Paris. The outside double has been complimented by crafty short offense that uses far side ankle control to create angles and find reshots. She has a developing leg lace.
Maroulis is an all-around competitor who relies more on creating offense from what's presented to her, than focusing on hitting one single move. As an example of this you can see her foot sweep Marwa Amri of Tunisia through the floor. In addition to creative offense, she loves to sucker opponents into an outside single on her right leg then whizzer hard while sliding out the ankle. This is the position she held at the end of her 2016 Olympic gold-medal performance against Saori Yoshida, and how she scored her second takedown against Amri in Paris.
However good her offense and defense, what makes Maroulis most impressive is her ability to score in bunches. She connects takedowns to gut wrenches well and finds cradles during scrambles like she did in the Olympic semifinals against Sofia Mattson (a la David Taylor).
The rest of the matchups are compelling, especially Kyle Snyder and Renerias Salas. While I don't think Salas will put up much of a fight in the second period, I'm very much looking forward to the first scrambles. He'll win, but the creativity will be a great test for Snyder.
One last thing … If you are in the NYC area and want to attend be sure to purchase tickets. They are only $25 for standing room only and the money goes to support a great cause. If you can't make it, but want to support the cause, you can also direct yourself to their donate page through the same link.
Here is the link.
To your questions ...
Abdulrashid Sadulaev (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Q: Why is Abdulrashid Sadulaev moving up to 97 kg after winning the European Championships at 92 kg? Is it solely to face Kyle Snyder? Or he is struggling with the weight cut?
-- Mike C.
Foley: I'm really not sure why he didn't just stay at 97 kilograms. The best answer might be some internal politics and that there was a need for him to maintain 92 kilograms at the Europeans, but I truthfully don't know. One other option might be that he had his taste of a two-day weigh-in and didn't want to do that again knowing full well that he was going to 97 kilograms in 2019 to qualify for the Olympic Games.
We always knew he was going up. I think the bigger surprise was that he even went down to 92 kilograms at all.
Oh, and no it's not solely to face Kyle Snyder, but he has been very vocal that he will beat Snyder in any and all rematches.
Q: I'm hoping you may be able to shed some light on just what the heck is going on with the program at the University of Maryland. As you are probably aware, just a decade ago Pat Santoro had the Terps on a huge upswing, and they seemed poised to break into the national elite. When Kerry McCoy took over after the 2008 season, he inherited a roster featuring six future All-Americans and another half dozen NCAA qualifiers, in addition to a hefty salary and solid support. Since then, however, the Terps have regressed every year. After four Big Ten seasons, their conference record stands at 1-35, and the program is rife with injuries, academic problems, poor development, anemic recruiting, and chaotic roster management. The program looks to be on life support, and we Maryland fans are hoping something changes soon. Any thoughts?
-- Chris S.
Foley: Kerry McCoy is one of America's most accomplished NCAA and international wrestlers. He's also had notable success as a head wrestling coach at Stanford and Maryland. While there is a notable drop off in on-the-mat success I think that his leadership is something Maryland wants to keep in their athletic department. As one of the only minority coaches in NCAA wrestling, I also think it's important for him to have his opinion within the marketplace of ideas.
Winning is winning, and if at some point the successes aren't there then I'd expect Maryland to find a better solution for their program. However, I think the sport would be shortchanged if McCoy weren't on staff or influencing policy at some Division I school.
Classic Burroughs pacing
Foot sweep for days …
Maroulis vs. Odunayo
Q: What do you think?
"If you play sports on a high school team, how likely is it that you'll play at the NCAA level?
Highest: Lacrosse (>12%)
Lowest: Wrestling, Basketball (3-4%)"
Foley: There are still a relatively high number of high school wrestlers in the United States compared to a relatively low number of available roster spots at the NCAA level, especially Division I (roughly 2100 total).
Q: It seems like there are more notable transfers this offseason in NCAA Division I wrestling than in recent memory. Any idea why that might be the case?
-- Mike C.
Foley: I think kids are more emboldened to make the decisions they feel are in their best interest. If they aren't starting -- or having trouble with the coaches -- they are learning from their peers that transferring isn't the black mark it was once considered.
Also, I think that the volume of news might also be impacted by the loss of the Eastern Michigan program.