Bajrang Punia was presented with a check for $25,000 after winning Flo's 8-Man Challenge (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
AUSTIN, Texas -- Indian wrestling star Bajrang Punia is making the most of his month-long stay in the United States.
The top-seeded Bajrang came through to win FloWrestling's 8-Man Challenge at 150 pounds on Friday night, beating James Green in the championship match, 8-4, in a battle of multiple-time world medalists. He earned $25,000 by winning the title.
Bajrang Punia gets a front headlock on James Green in the finals (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
The 26-year-old Bajrang got on the scoreboard first against with a two-point exposure. Green responded with two consecutive takedowns to go up 4-2 before Bajrang picked up a takedown of his own to take a 4-4 criteria lead into the break. Bajrang came out strong in the second period, getting a takedown and turn to go up 8-4. Green was in deep on a shot late, but Bajrang was able to fend off the attack and earn the victory.
Glad with my performance & happy to start on a winning note after such a long break due to pandemic. Thank you all for the love, support & blessings !!! 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/N1soHaMwtS— Bajrang Punia 🇮🇳 (@BajrangPunia) December 19, 2020
Bajrang advanced to the finals with a 9-0 shutout over Anthony Ashnault. He led 3-0 at the break before breaking the match wide open in the second period with a four-point move. Bajrang then added a two-point exposure to win by nine.
He opened his night with a 6-1 win over Pat Lugo. Bajrang scored with a two-point exposure in the opening period, before adding a takedown and turn off a gut wrench in the final period.
James Green defeated Alec Pantaleo to reach the finals (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
Green earned his spot in the finals with a 4-2 win over Alec Pantaleo. The two-time world medalist at 70 kilograms scored the match's only takedown in the first period and led 2-1 at the break. He scored with consecutive two step outs in the second period to extend his lead to 4-1. With a minute remaining, Pantaleo inched closer with a step out, but Green would hold on for the win.
The 28-year-old Green, who recently announced his intention to move down to 65 kilograms for an Olympic run, was dominant in his opening match against Bryce Meredith, picking up a first-period technical superiority, 10-0. After Green built a quick 6-0 lead, he fired off a double leg and scored four points to finish the match.
Alec Pantaleo defeated Anthony Ashnault to finish third (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
Pantaleo bounced back from his semifinal loss to finish third, beating Ashnault 8-1. The former Michigan three-time All-American picked up two takedowns in the first period to lead 4-0 at the break. He added a third takedown with just over a minute remaining before turning Ashnault with a gut wrench.
Earlier in the day, Pantaleo won a hard-fought, back-and-forth battle on criteria over Jordan Oliver in the quarterfinals. After Oliver scored off the activity clock, Pantaleo picked up a step out to take a criteria lead. Oliver grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second period after scoring again on the activity clock. Pantaleo retook the lead with a takedown before Oliver responded with a takedown off an ankle pick. With 11 seconds left, Pantaleo drove Oliver out for a step out to take the criteria lead. He then fought off Oliver's attacks to earn the victory.
Ashnault edged Evan Henderson 6-6 on criteria in the quarterfinals. The 2019 NCAA champion and four-time All-American for Rutgers scored first with a step out before getting a takedown to lead 3-0 at the break. Henderson battled back in the second period, but ultimately came up just short, as Ashnault scored the final point.
There were two women's wrestling matches on the card, which took place after the 8-Man Challenge quarterfinals and semifinals.
Tiare Ikei throws Amy Fearnside before securing the fall (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
Tiare Ikei, a 2019 U.S. Open champion and 2018 cadet world medalist, used a big throw to earn a second-period fall over Amy Fearnside. The 19-year-old Hawaiian led 1-0 at the break. In the second period, Ikei capitalized on Fearnside's aggressiveness, hitting a lateral drop before securing the fall.
Jacarra Winchester cruised to a 10-0 technical superiority over Lauren Louive (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
World champion Jacarra Winchester cruised to a first-period 10-0 technical superiority over Lauren Louive in the second women's wrestling match. Winchester picked up four takedowns, with the final one coming in the last second of the opening period, which ended the match.
FloWrestling's next event is set for Jan. 9, which will be headlined by Jordan Burroughs vs. David Taylor in a battle of world champions.
Women's wrestling results
Tiare Ikei df. Amy Fearnside, VFA 3:36
Jacarra Winchester df. Lauren Louive, VSU 10-0
8-Man Challenge results
Bajrang Punia df. Pat Lugo, VPO1 6-1
Anthony Ashnault df. Evan Henderson, VPO1 6-6
Alec Pantaleo df. Jordan Oliver, VPO1 4-4
James Green df. Bryce Meredith, VSU, 10-0
Bajrang Punia df. Anthony Ashnault, VPO 9-0
James Green df. Alec Pantaleo, VPO1 4-2
Alec Pantaleo df. Anthony Ashnault, VPO1 8-1
Bajrang Punia df. James Green, VPO1 8-4