David Taylor gets in on a single leg against Jordan Burroughs in their match Wednesday night (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)
LINCOLN, Neb. -- The time and place changed, but the wrestling was just as good as expected.
The much-anticipated battle between Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs and world champion David Taylor delivered during the FloWrestling event on Wednesday night.
The Burroughs-Taylor bout was delayed four days and moved from Austin, Texas to Lincoln, Nebraska because of issues with COVID.
The postponement also meant the addition of other top bouts on the Wednesday card, including a matchup between two-time world champion J'den Cox and top Senior-level wrestler Nate Jackson.
Here is my breakdown from the evening's matches:
116 pounds: Anthony Knox dec. Ben Davino, 11-6
The evening's first bout was between Knox, a USA Wrestling Kids' Freestyle Nationals champion, and Davino, a prep freshman who is ranked No. 7 in the country at 106 pounds. Davino struck first with a nice dump for a takedown. Knox came right back, finishing a double-leg shot to tie it 2-2. Knox followed with a stepout and takedown off leg attacks to go up 5-2. Davino responded by hitting a dump and followed with a gut-wrench to lead 6-5 after one period. Knox powered in on a single and followed with a gut-wrench to take a 9-6 lead with 1:15 left. Great action in this match. Knox kept the heat on, adding a takedown to build his lead to 11-6. Knox prevailed 11-6 in an excellent opening bout.
117 pounds: Sage Mortimer dec. Audrey Jimenez, 8-5
The lone women's freestyle bout on the card featured two age-group standouts. Mortimer charged out aggressively off the opening whistle. She scored the first takedown in the match's first minute. Mortimer came back with another takedown to lead 4-0. Mortimer countered a shot late in the first period and spun behind to lead 6-0 at the break. Jimenez came out strong to start the second period, shooting in on a single to score a stepout. She followed with a single and finish to draw within 6-3. Mortimer countered a shot to score a takedown to go up 8-3 in the final minute. Jimenez shot in for a late takedown, but fell 8-5. Another good match with an abundance of action.
145 pounds: Cody Chittum pinned Jordan Williams, 1:52
This bout featured top high school wrestlers ranked 1-2 in the country at 145. Chittum is known for his aggressive style and it showed as he opened with a quick pushout. He followed with a counter and turn to go up 3-0. Chittum hit a slick shot before launching Williams with a spectacular lift to lead 7-0. He added another turn on a counter and followed with a first-period fall. Chittum is an outstanding young prospect and turned in a phenomenal performance by hitting the move of the night.
65 kilograms: Joey McKenna tech. Seth Gross, 10-0
This was another intriguing matchup with Gross bumping up in weight to face McKenna in a Senior-level battle. McKenna barreled in on a double and lifted Gross off the mat with an explosive four-point move. McKenna scored off another attack to lead 6-0 against Gross. McKenna shot in again and finished to build his advantage to 8-0. He added another turn to win 10-0 by technical superiority in the opening period. Impressive showing by McKenna, whose strong finishes never let Gross get into the flow of the match.
215 pounds: J'den Cox dec. Nate Jackson, 6-1
Jackson bumped up in weight to take on a tough challenge against Cox, who has won four world-level medals. Cox struck first with a pushout with a minute left in the opening three minutes. Jackson scored a point after Cox was put on the shot clock to tie it 1-1. Cox responded with an attack that led to a pushout and a 2-1 lead with just over a minute to go. He spun behind for a late takedown and added a gut-wrench to lead 6-1. Cox has looked good in recently returning after a long break from competition.
86 kilograms: David Taylor dec. Jordan Burroughs, 4-4
Burroughs bumped up a weight class to renew his rivalry with Taylor in a matchup of great champions. Burroughs was put on the shot clock late in the first period, but did not score and Taylor took a 1-0 lead. DT has a significant size advantage and led 1-0 at the break. Taylor powered in on a single and scored a pushout to lead 2-0 early in the second period. Burroughs slipped on a shot attempt and Taylor capitalized by spinning behind to go up 4-0. Burroughs drove Taylor out of bounds to close within 4-1 with 50 seconds left. He added another stepout to pull within 4-2 with 23 seconds to go. JB added two more pushouts to tie it 4-4, but Taylor wins on criteria. Burroughs wasn't really able to get to his offense until late in the bout. That's a credit to the defense and positioning of Taylor, who continues to progress after missing the 2019 World Championships with a knee injury.
This turned out to be an entertaining night of wrestling despite being thrown together at the last minute. Kudos to everyone who made it happen. That was fun to watch. It was awesome that Taylor and Burroughs agreed to battle in this format. High-level matches like this can only help both of those guys as they continue to progress in preparations for the Olympic Games. Let's hope they wrestle again if the opportunity presents itself.
Craig Sesker has written about wrestling for more than three decades. He's covered three Olympic Games, written 10 books and is a two-time national wrestling writer of the year.