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  • Photo: Photos/Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Photos/Tony Rotundo

    FloWrestling: Dake vs. Chamizo Preview & Predictions

    Kyle Dake and Frank Chamizo, both two-time world champions, will meet on Saturday (Photos/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    Freestyle wrestling returns on Saturday. FloWrestling will host a card featuring a main event between a pair of returning world medalists. Reigning 79-kilogram world champion Kyle Dake will take on 74-kilogram world silver medalist Frank Chamizo. The bout may turn out to be an Olympic preview if Dake can get past Jordan Burroughs at the Olympic Team Trials. The event also features another world champion, several former collegiate stars and a former Bellator champion.

    The following is a match-by-match preview of the event.

    Kyle Dake vs. Frank Chamizo

    When the weight classes expanded following the 2017 World Championships, it was clear that the new 79-kilogram weight would benefit Dake. He had been stuck behind Jordan Burroughs at 74 kilograms for years, and he certainly made the most of the new opportunity. Dake won gold at both the 2018 and 2019 world events as clearly solidified himself as one of the best wrestlers currently representing the U.S. With the Olympics around the corner, Dake is back down at 74 kilograms and looking to break through against Burroughs.

    Chamizo is also fond of moving weights. He won his first world title at 65 kilograms before moving up to 70 kilograms two years later. He now finds himself in one of the deepest weights in an Olympic year. He won a silver last year's World Championships with his only defeat coming against two-time world champion Zaurbek Sidakov. Like Dake, Chamizo has gone through an extensive series with Burroughs. The two have split their four matches with Burroughs taking a 9-2 decision in their last meeting at the 2019 Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov tournament.

    The path to victory is pretty clear for Dake. He needs to hold a solid stance as always and look for the big throws to avoid the scrambling on Chamizo. However, that might be easier said than done against the two-time world champion. It is entirely possible that this turns into a low scoring and defensive match. If that happens, it will favor Chamizo who has more ways to score and should be able to avoid Dake's dynamic offense.

    Prediction: Chamizo over Dake (VPO1)

    David Taylor with a Pan American Olympic Qualifier gold medal (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    David Taylor vs. Myles Martin

    Pat Downey seemingly tweeted himself into a match with Taylor and then tweeted himself out of the match. The 2018 world champion will take on Myles Martin in the co-main event. Taylor returned to the mats at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier this past March and scored a pair of dominant performances over veterans Pedro Ceballos (Venezuela) and Yurieski Torreblanca (Cuba). In the process, he qualified 86 kilograms for the U.S. It was Taylor's first action back since he suffered a knee injury against Drew Foster at the 2019 Beat the Streets event. Prior to the injury defeat against Foster, the former Penn State wrestler had not lost since he dropped a decision in the 2017 World Team Trials against J'den Cox.

    Martin took this match on short notice after the card was shuffled. He finished his Ohio State career in 2019 as a four time All-American and one-time champion. Since leaving college, he has joined the freestyle circuit. He had an impressive end to the 2019 year before the shutdown as he finished second at both the Bill Farrell Memorial and Senior Nationals. Along the way, he scored victories over Nick Heflin, Nathan Jackson, Brett Pfarr and Alex Dieringer.

    The only real questions about Taylor this year dealt with his recovery from injuries. In his first action back, he answered those questions in a big way. Martin is clearly one of the best wrestlers at this weight class domestically, but he will struggle to stay on the mat for the full six minutes here.

    Prediction: Taylor over Martin (VSU)

    Roman Bravo-Young wrestling Iowa's Austin DeSanto (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)

    Jack Mueller vs. Roman Bravo-Young

    After finishing second at the NCAAs as a junior, Mueller was one of the favorites to reach the finals yet again this past season. He finished the season with a 13-1 record after suffering an upset at the ACC tournament. He lost only two matches during his final two years at Virginia. Mueller also experienced international success in the freestyle version of the sport. He represented the U.S. at the 2018 U23 World Championships and brought home a bronze medal. His only loss in the tournament came against eventual champion Toshihiro Hasegawa of Japan. In 2019, Mueller defeated Nick Piccininni at the Beat the Streets event and finished fourth in the World Team Trials challenge tournament.

    Bravo-Young finished his second year at Penn State with a 20-2 record. His only two losses came against Sebastian Rivera and Seth Gross, so he was clearly a contender to place high at the NCAA tournament. During the year, he picked up victories over the likes of Austin DeSanto and Sammy Alvarez. In freestyle, Bravo-Young has finished as the runner-up in three straight national-level tournaments. He made the finals of the 2018 U23 Nationals, 2019 Junior Nationals and the 2019 Junior World Team Trials.

    Bravo-Young always had the raw skills and a year in the Penn State room have allowed him to make meaningful strides. However, a lot of those improvements are specific to freestyle. On the other hand, Mueller has always been a slick freestyle practitioner. Both wrestlers will have moments of success in this match, but Mueller should be able to win the scrambles and exchanges.

    Prediction: Mueller over Bravo-Young (VPO1)

    Vito Arujau gets his hand raised after advancing to the finals of the Junior Worlds (Photo/Kadir Caliskan, United World Wrestling)

    Vito Arujau vs. Sammy Alvarez

    Arujau finished his freshman season at Cornell with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA tournament. He then sat out the 2020 season to prepare for the Olympic Team Trials. He competed in the 2019 Senior Nationals at 57 kilograms and finished third. He defeated Zach Sanders and NCAA champion Nick Suriano to reach the semifinals where he ran into Spencer Lee. Arujau lost to Lee before bouncing back to finish third at the event. Despite his folkstyle success, freestyle has always been where he shined. He won silver medals at both the 2016 Cadet World Championships and 2019 Junior World Championships.

    Alvarez started for Rutgers out of the gate this past season. As a true freshman, he went 26-10 and qualified for the NCAA tournament that never happened. He went 3-3 at the Big Ten tournament with a variety of exciting matches, including a 9-6 loss against NCAA champion Seth Gross.

    Arujau showed just how dangerous he is in freestyle at the Senior Nationals. Alvarez is certainly game, but he will be up against it here. The Rutgers wrestler will make it an exciting match, but this will be a dominant performance from Arujau.

    Prediction: Arujau over Alvarez (VSU1)

    Luke Pletcher battling PSU's Nick Lee at the Big Ten Championships (Photo/Juan Garcia)

    Darrion Caldwell vs. Luke Pletcher

    Anthony Ashnault was originally set for this match against Pletcher. However, he pulled out of the bout with an injury and opened this slot for Caldwell. The former Bellator bantamweight champion will make his return to competitive wrestling for the first time since making his MMA debut in 2012. Caldwell was a two-time All-American at NC State, and he won an NCAA title in 2009. After a rash of injuries ended his senior season, he transitioned to freestyle for the 2012 Olympic cycle. He ended up going 2-2 at the Trials with wins over Brandon Bradley and Jacob Wadley as well as losses against Jason Tsirtssis and Destin McCauley.

    About six months after the Olympic Team Trials, Caldwell made his MMA debut under the Legacy FC banner. After winning his first three fights, he signed with Bellator. He won seven of his first eight fights for Bellator including wins over fellow former wrestlers Joe Warren and Shawn Bunch. In his 12th fight, he won the Bellator bantamweight title over Eduardo Dantas. He has since lost the belt in a two-fight series against Kyoji Horiguchi, but he got back on track with a pair of wins in the Bellator featherweight tournament.

    Pletcher was clearly one of the favorites to bring home an NCAA title at 141 pounds this past year. He entered the conference tournament with only one loss, which came against Nick Lee of Penn State. Pletcher was able to reverse that defeat, and he was set to enter the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 seed before the cancellation. After a hiatus, Pletcher returned to action at the Rumble on the Rooftop event against Pat Lugo. It was a tough outing for Pletcher as Lugo was able to control the clinch situations and got to his offense. The former Ohio State wrestler ultimately dropped a decision.

    This is by far the hardest match on the card to predict. In a vacuum, Caldwell should probably be the favorite. He had the more impressive wins on the collegiate level and competed at a higher weight class. However, he has been out of wrestling for over eight years. On the other hand, unlike many MMA converts, Caldwell has not strayed from his wrestling roots, and it remains an essential element of his style. However, there is nothing like actually wrestling. Pletcher had a tough showing against Pat Lugo, but with a more steady training camp he should be able to defeat the former Bellator champion.

    Prediction: Pletcher over Caldwell (VPO1)

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