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  • Photo: Photo/John Sachs

    Photo: Photo/John Sachs

    Ten matchups to watch at World Championships

    The 2017 UWW World Championships take place Aug. 21-26. As always, the event will feature the best wrestling that the world has to offer in all three international styles of wrestling. The following are 10 of the most intriguing potential matchups in this year's tournament.

    FS 61 kilograms: No. 1 Vladimir Khinchegashvili (Georgia) vs. No. 6 Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan)

    61 kilograms will certainly be an interesting weight in Paris. Multiple contenders at 57 kilograms have moved up and created a logjam of potential champions. This includes Khinchegashvili, the reigning 57-kilogram Olympic champion, and Aliyev who finished with a bronze after falling to the Georgian in the quarterfinals. After moving up, Khinchegashvili has won both the European Championships and the Waclaw Ziolkowski Memorial. Aliyev competed at 65 kilograms at the World Cup before dropping down to 61 kilograms and winning the Islamic Solidarity Games in May.

    FS 61 kilograms: No. 3 Logan Stieber (USA) vs. No. 2 Akhmed Chakaev (Russia)

    This bout would be a rematch of one of the most incredible bouts of last year's non-Olympic weight World Championships. In a quarterfinal match, Stieber trailed 11-10 with only eight seconds left in the match. He someone managed to finish a takedown to pull ahead 12-11. The Russian team challenged the takedown, but due to a video malfunction there was not any reviewable footage of the winning move. Stieber went on to win the gold medal, while Chakaev took a bronze. Unfortunately, this rematch will not be possible if Russia chooses to send Gadzhimurad Rashidov instead. Chakeav and Rashidov split a pair of matches already this year.

    FS 70 kilograms: No. 4 Ikhtiyor Navruzov (Uzbekistan) vs. No. 16 Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia)

    Navruzov defeated Ganzorig for a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in one of the most memorable and, perhaps notorious, moments of the Games. Ganzorig led the match 7-6 in the final seconds and became extremely defensive as the clock wound down. The referee awarded a penalty point, and therefore the match, to Navruzov. The Mongolian coaches stormed the mat and stripped off their clothes in protest. With both wrestlers moving up to 70 kilograms, Ganzorig could get his shot at redemption in Paris.

    FS 70 kilograms: No. 9 Mostafa Hosseinkhani (Iran) vs. No. 9 James Green (USA)

    Hosseinkhani has built on his 2016 world bronze medal with an undefeated season this year. At the World Cup, he handed Green his only loss of the year. Since falling to Hosseinkhani, Green has stormed back with three-straight tournament victories in the International Ukrainian Tournament, the Pan American Championship and the Grand Prix of Spain. Both wrestlers are riding the wave of momentum and have a good chance of coming home from Paris with a medal.

    Bekzod Abdurakhmanov defeated Jordan Burroughs at the Olympics (Photo/Tech-Fall.com)

    FS 74 kilograms: No. 4 Jordan Burroughs (USA) vs. No. 6 Bekzod Abdurakhmanov (Uzbekistan)

    One of the biggest shocks at the 2016 Olympics was the fact that Burroughs failed to medal in a world-level competition for the first time on the senior level. The man who knocked him out of gold medal contention, Aniuar Geduev, is not expected to complete. If Burroughs wants revenge, he will have to settle for Abdurakhmanov who knocked him out of the repechage. Burroughs has beaten Abdurakhmanov on multiple occasions, but it might turn out to be a significant mental hurdle on the way to getting back on the top of the podium.

    FS 86 kilograms: No. 1 Hassan Yazdanicharati (Iran) vs. No. 4 Selim Yasar (Turkey)

    In a lot of ways, Yasar has been waiting for Abdulrashid Sadulaev to move up in weight. The Turkish wrestler took silver medals behind Sadulaev at both the 2015 World Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While 96 kilograms lost one Olympic champion, another one has entered the field. After breaking through with an unlikely gold at 74 kilograms last year, Yazdanicharati has moved up. He already handed Yasar a loss this season, and he has gone undefeated outside of a loss against David Taylor at the World Cup.

    WW 58 kilograms: No. 2 Helen Maroulis (USA) vs. No. 6 Valeria Koblova (Russia)

    When Maroulis announced she was moving up to 58 kilograms, many fans immediately began pondering a dream match against four-time Olympic gold medalist Kaori Icho. Unfortunately, the Japanese wrestler will not be in the field in Paris. Instead, Maroulis' main competition to pick up another gold medal will be Koblova. The Russian nearly defeated Icho in Rio, and this year she has won both the Russian Nationals and the Klippan Lady Open.

    GR 80 kilograms: No. 1 Roman Vlasov (Russia) vs. No. 10 Mark Madsen (Denmark)

    Vlasov and Madsen are both moving up after competing in the Olympics at 70 kilograms. In the finals of that tournament, Vlasov put a stop to Madsen's cinderella run through the tournament with a 5-1 victory. As a two-time Olympic champion and two-time world champion, Vlasov is the clear favorite in this bracket. However, Madsen has shown he can pull off upsets and is almost certainly gunning for another crack at Vlasov. This also might be the Danish's wrestlers last crack at gold. The four-time world silver medalist has a 2-0 MMA record and might be looking to cash in before it is too late.

    GR 71 kilograms: No. 6 Frank Staebler (Germany) vs. No. 1 Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan)

    Chunayev enters the field as the number-one ranked wrestler in a wide-open bracket. This year, he won the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov Tournament and took bronze at the Islamic Solidarity Games. Staebler had entered the 2016 Olympics as one of the favorites in the 66-kilogram division as he was coming off a silver at the 2015 World Championships. However, "The Melee Machine of Musberg" failed to medal and finished seventh. He has returned to form this year with a victory at the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup, so he might be poised to make a run at a medal in France.

    FS 97 kilograms: No. 1 Kyle Snyder (USA) vs. No. 2 Abdulrashid Sadulaev (Russia)
    Clearly the most anticipated potential match of the 2017 World Championships is between returning Olympic gold medalists Sadulaev and Snyder. Both wrestlers are only 21 years old, and both have already claimed multiple world-level championships. Sadulaev will move up after spending the majority of his career at 86 kilograms. In addition to this past Olympics, "The Russian Tank" also won the two previous World Championships at that weight, and he has gone undefeated since 2013. Snyder made his senior-level debut in 2015. He won the world title that year and followed it up with an Olympic championship this past year. The Ohio State wrestler also continues to compete on the collegiate level where he is a two-time NCAA champion. Both wrestlers are virtual locks to make the finals, if they do not run into each other in an earlier round. UWW has introduced seeding for this tournament, and Snyder will be the top seed. However, Sadulaev does not meet the criteria for a top-four seed since most of his accomplishments have come at a lower weight.

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