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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    A Deeper Look at Rivalry Between Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Dake

    Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Dake at the 2017 World Team Trials (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)


    Earlier this week, news broke that Isaiah Martinez had been forced out of the 2021 Olympic Team Trials. This makes yet another encounter between Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Dake the likely final at 74 kg.

    Since 2011, Burroughs has been dominant at the weight both domestically and on the international level with five World/Olympic gold medals and eight overall medals. Dake has been Burroughs' most formidable challenge domestically, but he has never been able to oust Burroughs from his spot at 74 kg. When the weights expanded following the 2016 Olympics, he moved up to 79 kilograms and captured his first two World golds. With the weight classes contracting for the Olympics, Burroughs and Dake have been on a collision course.

    The following takes a look back at their eight-match history and attempts to identify any statistical trends or elements that could make the difference this weekend at the Trials.

    Takedowns

    As you might expect, Burroughs has had the takedown advantage during his series with Dake. He has scored 12 takedowns, while the former Cornell wrestler has only notched six. Three of those 12 takedowns were feet-to-back maneuvers that netted Burroughs extra points. Their first pair of matches took place back in 2013, where a feet-to-back takedown only scored three points instead of the customary four points awarded today.

    Dake has managed to go feet to back on Burroughs once. It came in their second match at the 2013 Trials. Burroughs pushed hard along the edge for a stepout, but Dake was able to achieve rear standing and launch him out of bounds.

    Even though they have 18 takedowns scored across their eight matches, only four have come in the second period. Once again, Burroughs has the advantage. He has scored three second-period takedowns, while Dake only scored one in their second match at the 2013 Trials.

    Burroughs also scored takedowns in seven of their eight matches. Interestingly enough, he managed to win the match where he did not record a takedown. In the finals of the 2017 U.S. Open, he scored via a step out as well as a shot-clock point and took a 2-2 victory on criteria. In addition to that match, Dake also failed to score a takedown in their first meeting back in 2013 and their most recent contest in the deciding bout of the 2017 World Team Trials.

    While Burroughs has diversified his leg attacks over the course of his career, he is still at his best when he is getting to legs and finishing. Dake has always been a noted defensive wrestler, but Burroughs has still been able to stack up the takedowns.

    Exposures from Neutral Positions

    Neither wrestler has scored many exposure points from neutral positions in the series, but some of the exchanges were decisive events. Their second match at the 2013 Trials went to overtime (It was actually a thing back then). Dake tried to scramble behind for the match-ending takedown. However, Burroughs caught and elevated an ankle for the exposure and the victory.

    After winning the first match at the 2017 World Team Trials, Dake appeared to be in the driver's seat on the path to unseating Burroughs. Late in the second match, he elevated the Olympian in a crotch lift position and appeared to be on the way to scoring an exposure. However, Burroughs somehow turned the maneuver into his own score and took an 8-4 victory.

    Dake's only neutral exposure actually came in his only win in the series. In the first match at the 2017 Trials, he caught Burroughs in a chest wrap and finished it for four. He held on for the 6-6 victory thanks to the value of the four-point score.

    Burroughs has been able to be aggressive with his takedowns without giving Dake opportunities to score. That will be essential this weekend if he wants to continue his dominance in the rivalry. Dake usually scores in scrambles and when given counter opportunities. If he is able to explode for a four, his chance of victory increases dramatically.

    Exposures from the Top

    Burroughs has managed to score six exposures from the top position, which are defined as exposures following a takedown. He has also prevented Dake from scoring any points in this category. The former Nebraska wrestler made his most significant impact from the top position in the first match of their series at the 2015 World Team Trials. Following a takedown, Burroughs immediately transitioned to a leg lace and added six quick points.

    In the deciding match at the 2017 World Team Trials, Burroughs was able to get on the board with a trap-arm gut wrench following a takedown in the first period.

    Step Outs, Cautions and Shot-Clock Points

    Burroughs and Dake have each notched eight step outs in the series. However, Dake may have a slight advantage since he also put points on the board when Burroughs was hit with a caution for backing out at the 2015 World Team Trials.

    In their eight-match series, there have been only two shot-clock points awarded, and they both went to Burroughs. He scored via the clock at the 2017 Open after Dake was put on the clock for the second time in the second period. He also scored upon the expiration of the shot clock in the second match of the 2017 World Team Trials.

    Even though it has not often been the case in this series, both wrestlers have shown the ability to slow matches down and keep it close. Many of Burroughs' matches these days have been exceptionally close. If that turns out to be the case this week, these types of points could make the difference.

    Points Per Match

    Excluding their two-match series from the 2013 World Team Trials, which took place under the old ruleset, the average match score in the rivalry has been 7 to 3.5 in favor of Burroughs.

    Interesting enough, this is not that far off from Burrough's overall points per match averages. In matches against all other wrestlers since 2015, excluding falls, Burroughs has averaged 8.02 points per match and allowed 1.97 points per match on average.

    On the other hand, Dake normally averages far more than 3.5 points per match. During the same stretch, and once again, excluding falls and matches against Burroughs, he has averaged 7.89 points per match and allowed an average of 1.59 points per bout.

    These numbers seem to favor Burroughs. He scores more points per match compared to Dake, and he has certainly had the edge in their head-to-head matches. However, recent match results illustrate a much different picture.

    In matches from only 2020 and 2021, Burroughs is averaging only 5.5 points per match and allowing an average of 1.75 points per match. On the other hand, During the same timeframe, Dake has averaged 7.6 points per match, and he has allowed only six points in his last 10 bouts (excluding falls).

    Obviously, there are a lot of factors that could be contributing to the recent stats. However, Dake has been consistently putting up a higher points-per-match average in his recent bouts. While he has struggled to keep pace with Burroughs historically in the series, he may have turned the corner with his offense. If Burroughs has declined in terms of scoring, fans may be looking at a different result at this year's edition of the trials.

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