Five-time World/Olympic champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev (Russia) (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
As of today, we under 50 days from the start of wrestling at the Olympic Games. Over the next 50 days, we'll bring you one profile per day of a decorated international contender. Make sure you get to know the wrestlers that Team USA will compete against in Tokyo.
7/27/21 - Sharif Sharifov (Azerbaijan)
7/26/21 - Ravi Kumar (India)
7/20/21 - Zaurbek Sidakov (Russia)
7/15/21 - Taha Akgul (Turkey)
7/13/21 - Artur Naifonov (Russia)
7/11/21 - Vazgen Tevanyan (Armenia)
7/10/21 - Khadzhimurad Ghadzhiev (Azerbaijan)
7/8/21 - Ali Shabanov (Belarus)
7/7/21 - Gadzhimurad Rashidov (Russia)
7/6/21 - Suleyman Karadeniz (Turkey)
7/5/21 - Frank Chamizo (Italy)
7/3/21 - Yui Susaki (Japan)
7/1/21 - Amir Zare (Iran)
6/28/21 - Zavur Uguev (Russia)
6/27/21 - Zhan Beleniuk (Ukraine)
6/26/21 - Sergey Kozyrev (Russia)
6/24/21 - Kenchiro Fumita (Japan)
6/23/21 - Magomedkhabib Kadimagomedov (Belarus)
6/22/21 - Erica Wiebe (Canada)
6/21/21 - Myles Amine (San Marino)
6/20/21 - Sofia Mattsson (Sweden)
6/19/21 - Hassan Yazdani Charati (Iran)
6/18/21 - Tamas Lorincz (Hungary)
6/17/21 - Takuro Otoguro (Japan)
6/16/21 - Elizbar Odikadze (Georgia)
6/15/21 - Koumba Larroque (France)
6/14/21 - Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan)
6/13/21 - Ningning Rong (China)
6/12/21 - Bajrang Punia (India)
6/11/21 - Frank Staebler (Germany)
6/10/21 - Geno Petriashvili (Georgia)
Just a few days away from a chance at a sixth World/Olympic title and a spot among the all-time elite upperweight greats, five-time World/Olympic champion #1 Abdulrashid Sadulaev of Russia's career deserves a revisit to understand just as the scale of greatness that has unfolded. Today's Olympic profile will cover five-time World/Olympic champion #1 Abdulrashid Sadulaev of Russia.
#1 Abdulrashid Sadulaev (RUS)- 2014 86 KG World championships gold medalist, 2015 86 KG world champion, 2016 86 KG Olympic champion, 2017 97 KG world runner-up, 2018 97 KG world champion, 2019 97 KG world champion, 2020 97 KG Individual World Cup champion 4x European champion ('14, '18, '19, '20), 2x European Games champion ('15, '19), 2x Yarygin champion ('14,' 18), 2013 84 KG Baku GGP bronze medalist, 2012 84 KG Ali Aliyev bronze medalist, 2013 85 KG cadet world championships gold medalist, 2012 75 KG Cadet world championships gold medalist,
Key Wins: Reineris Salas Perez (2014 86 KG world finals, 2017 97 KG worlds), Georgi Ketoev (2017 97 KG worlds), Phil Keddy (2014 Yasar Dogu), #3 (92) Javad Ebrahimi (2014 Yasar Dogu, 2014 Ziolkowski), #6 (92) Selim Yasar (2015 world finals, 2014 worlds, 2016 Olympics), #12 Sharif Sharifov (2016 86 KG Olympics, 2018 92 KG European Finals, 2019 97 KG world finals), #14 (92) Irakli Mtsituri (2016 86 KG U-23 Euros, 2018 92 KG Dan Kolov finals, 2018 92 KG European Championships semis), #10 Aleksandr Husthyn (2015 86 KG Medved, 2016 86 KG Ziolkowski, 2016 U-23 86 KG European championships, 2019 97 KG European championships finals), #3 Kyle Snyder (2018 97 KG World finals), #18 Magomed Ibragimov (2018 97 KG world championships), Magomedgadzhi Nurov (2018 97 KG World championships, 2019 97 KG European championships, 2019 97 KG world championships, 2020 97 KG European championships ), #7 Elizbar Odikadze (2015 97 KG Alrosa Cup, 2017 97 KG Worlds, 2018 97 KG world semis, 2020 97 KG European championships), #4 Vladislav Baitsaev (2017 97 KG Russian National finals, 2018 97 KG Russian Nationals finals, 2021 97 KG Ali Aliev), Shamil Kudiyamagomedov (2014 86 KG Yarygin finals, 2015 86 KG Russian Nationals finals, 2014 86 KG Russian Nationals finals), #4 (86) Dauren Kurugliev (2014 86 KG Yarygin, 2014 86 KG Russian Nationals), #5 (92) Anzor Urishev (2014 86 KG Yarygin, 2015 86 KG Russian Nationals, 2018 92 KG Yarygin), Georgi Rubaev (2015 Russian Nationals), Ahmed Magomedov (2015 Russian Nationals), Soslan Ktsoev (2014 Yarygin, 2014 Russian Nationals), #7 (92) Zbigniew Baranowski (2016 Ziolkowski), Nurmagomed Gadzhiev (2015 European Games, 2019 European championships), #9 Alireza Karimiachiani (2015 97 KG worlds), Mihail Ganev (2014 worlds, 2015 worlds).
Key Losses: Shamil Kudiyamagomedov (2012 Ali Aliyev), Gamzat Osmanov (2013 Baku GGP), #3 Kyle Snyder (2017 world finals)
Sadulaev's career began alternating starts at the Cadet and Senior level competition, beginning in 2012 with a buzz saw performance at the 76 KG Cadet World Championships for gold and ending the year with a bronze medal finish at the 84 KG Ali Aliev behind Junior world bronze medalist Shamil Kudiyamagomedov of Russia. Making the full-time move up to 84 KG in 2013, Sadulaev would capture his second Cadet World title and conclude his year competing at the prestigious Baku Golden Grand Prix against some of the best on the Senior level.
As dominant as Sadulaev had shown himself at the Cadet levels, there were still levels to the Senior level that the young Dagestani still had to feel to grow. One of these would be his first actual loss, the type that makes or breaks you. Gamzat Osmanov (AZE) would be the man to handle that and thrashed the young Sadulaev in a tech fall win that included a big four-point move. Rebounding from that, Sadulaev showed his true mettle and took bronze over 2009 74 KG Russian Nationals bronze medalist Alexander Gostiev (AZE).
The loss to Osmanov, at the end of 2013, would change Sadulaev's career. Now a full-time Senior level athlete at the start of 2014, Sadulaev entered the prestigious Ivan Yarygin Memorial tournament that was legendary for fielding brackets that rivaled and even surpassed the difficulties of the World/Olympic championships. In what was the biggest test of the young Sadulaev's career, he passed with flying colors beating past Russian Nationals champions #5 (92) Anzor Urishev (RUS) and Shamil Kudiyamagomedov (ITA) along with Russian Nationals medalists #4 (86) Dauren Kurugliev (RUS) and #15 (92) Soslan Ktsoev (RUS).
The follow up to Sadulaev's impressive run through the top challengers Russia had to offer at the Yarygin would be a gold medal at the Yasar Dogu over Phil Keddy of the United States, where he picked up a big win along the way over #3 (92) Javad Ebrahimi (IRI), a 2012 Junior world champion.
The European championships would be Sadulaev's next conquest, tech falling his way through the finals with impressive wins over 2013 world bronze medalist Istvan Vereb (HUN) in the quarterfinals and two-time World/Olympic medalist Dato Marsagishvili (GEO) in the semis. In the finals, facing off against Murad Gaidarov of Belarus, Sadulaev would have to wrestle a hard-fought technically sound match against the wild man Gaidarov who punched, clubbed, and choked the young Sadulaev in a highly physical match that the Dagestani phenom would walk away from the 5-2 winner for European gold.
Sadulaev's first Senior Russian Nationals was a closer victory for him than the offensive showcase he put on display at the Yarygin. Defeating #4 (86) Dauren Kurugliev (RUS) 5-2 in the quarterfinals and 2010 world bronze medalist #15 (92) Soslan Ktsoev (RUS) 4-3 in the semifinals, Sadulaev faced the returning national champion Kudiyamagomedov for gold. In the matchup between the two uncrowned kings of the 84 KG weight class, it would be Sadulaev who'd prevail over Kudiyamagomedov in a 3-1 match for his first Russian Nationals title.
The Ziolkowski would be Sadulaev's final competition before his first Senior World Championships and the competition he faced was fierce. Winning over Ebrahimi, #20 (92) Radoslaw Marcinkiewicz (POL), #7 (92) Zbigniew Baranowski (POL), #10 Aleksandr Hushtyn (BLR) and Vereb.
At his first world championships, Sadulaev was absolutely sensational. A 51-3 scoring difference sealed the gold medal and it all began with a 9-2 victory over #6 (92) Selim Yasar (TUR). An 11-1 win over Dzhambuli Tsotadze (UKR) followed with a throttling 11-0 quarterfinal win over 2010 world champion Mihail Ganev (BUL). Aslan Kakhidze (KAZ) was high off a win over two-time World/Olympic medalist Marsagishvili, but he was beaten down by Sadulaev 10-0 to make the finals. Against the powerful Reineris Salas Perez (CUB), the returning world runner-up with lethal reattacks and legendary strength that had humbled the most powerful at 86 KG, Sadulaev shone brighter than ever using a lethal fireman's carry to put away the Cuban with a flawless 10-0 tech fall win, but not without showing off his iron chin after a heavy slap from the Cuban tried to rock Sadulaev. At only 18 years old, Sadulaev had not only won the world championships but made the world's best look like amateurs, like a lion playing with its prey.
Making his 2015 debut at the Medved, Sadulaev bulldozed #10 Aleksandr Hushtyn (BLR) in the finals for a tech fall win and gold. The Russian Nationals championships would be Sadulaev's next competition and gold came by way of wins over Urishev, Akhmed Magomedov (RUS), and a 4-0 finals victory over returning national runner-up Kudiyamagomedov.
At the European Games, it would be hyperbole to say that Sadulaev went untouched. Sure he tech falled his way through the bracket for gold, but to his opponent's credit, they did score a point. A single-point was scored by Nurmagomed Gadzhiev of Azerbaijan in his 11-1 tech fall loss to Sadulaev. No one else could match that feat from Gadzhiev, not #20 (92) Radoslaw Marcinkiewicz (POL), Tudor Ziz (ITA) or Piotr Ianulov (MDA), with all of them combining losing to Sadulaev 41-1. It wasn't a question of if someone could beat Sadulaev at the world championships. That was a pipe dream; no, the real question would be, could anybody score on him?
The dominance that Sadulaev had shown at the European Games was just a taste of things to come at the World Championships. Sadulaev did two cartwheels in the process of beating Atsushi Matsumoto (JPN) in an 11-0 opening win. David Radchenko (ISR) was a pin win for Sadulaev off a 4 point fireman's carry. Uitemen Orgodol (MGL) was a 10-0 tech fall in the round of 16. Ganev was another 10-0 win in the quarterfinals. The only man to even have a chance at pushing Sadulaev was #9 Alireza Karimimachiani (IRI), the 2014 Junior world champ who's carved out a reputation as a fearsome bruiser, who crushed the will of his opponents with powerful hand fighting and a mean double leg and short offense. The posterboy of the highly physical Iranian style of wrestling, Karimi was able to hold Sadulaev to a 2-1 opening period and score a pushout, but in the second, Sadulaev would open up the scoring to take a 6-2 win over the Iranian with the only points being scored against him behind pushouts. 41-2 was now the difference between Sadulaev and the field. Returning world bronze medalist Yasar was another stat, this time a 6-0 win for Sadulaev to run up his tally to 47-2 for world title number two.
Concluding his 2015, Sadulaev competed up at 97 KG for the Alrosa Cup, where he got the chance to wrestle against 2015 97 KG European Games runner-up Odikadze. A huge chest-wrap for Sadulaev and his patented lefty swing single put together a crushing tech fall win over the Georgian standout to prove that his dominance didn't discriminate based on weight.
Beginning 2016 as the now reigning two-time world champion who'd outscored his competition 98-5 across two world titles, Sadulaev blew through the U-23 European championships beating #10 Hushtyn and #15 (92) Irakli Mtsituri (GEO) with the closest thing he had coming to a loss being an opening round 4-point arm throw he gave up to Mtsituri in the finals that would quickly turn around into a 15-4 tech fall win for Sadulaev. Having won the past two world championships in unbelievably dominant fashion, Sadulaev was exempt from competing at Russian Nationals as he had already locked up the spot for the Rio Olympics. In his final competition before Rio, Sadulaev took home his second Ziolkowski title with wins over Baranowski and Hushtyn.
The 2016 Olympics would see the dominance of Sadulaev somewhat hampered, as he only scored one tech fall the whole competition over Vereb. Still, wins over Pedro Ceballos Fuentes (VEN) and returning Olympic champion #12 Sharif Sharifov (AZE) put the reigning two-time world champion in the finals against an old foe in 2x World/Olympic medalist Yasar of Turkey. In the finals, it would be the clean sweep single of Sadulaev and crushing par-terre that would carry him to the Olympic title with a 5-0 win over Yasar.
The beginning of the 2016-2020 quad would see a significant change for the now reigning three-time 86 KG World/Olympic champion #1 Abdulrashid Sadulaev moved up to 97 KG to start 2017. Competing at only two major competitions on the year, Sadulaev looked in strong form on his way to the Russian National finals outscoring his competition 44-0 to face 2015 Russian Nationals runner-up #4 Vladislav Baitsaev (RUS) in the finals. In what would be a shocking turn of events, an ill-fated chest wrap attempt from Sadulaev off a Baitsaev double leg would put him behind early and in threat of being pinned. Rallying back against the massive North-Ossetian, Sadulaev fought and clawed his way to his third Russian Nationals title with an 8-7 win.
The close match against Baitsaev in the Russian Nationals finals would be a sign of trouble on the water for Sadulaev going into the world championships. The usually dominant Sadulaev looked sluggish and tentative throughout the whole tournament on his way to the finals, and while he beat Odikadze and Mateusz Filipczak (POL) by tech fall, he was only able to get by Reineris Salas Perez (CUB) 3-0 in the opening round and a razor-thin 2-0 win over Georgi Ketoev (ARM) in the semifinals. In the finals, facing two-time 97 KG World/Olympic champion #3 Kyle Snyder (USA), Sadulaev was notably smaller than the powerhouse American.
Countering a Snyder headlock for a single leg takedown in the first 15 seconds of the match, Sadulaev went up 2-0 to start the action, but a Snyder step out cut the deficit for the American to 2-1. Sadulaev countered a Snyder snatch single with a reattack head inside single and drove it out of the bounds for the 3-1 lead, but a go behind for Snyder in the final minute of the match gave him the 3-3 lead on criteria going into the second period. In the first minute of the second period, a single leg for Sadulaev scored to give him the 5-3 outright lead. With 40 seconds left in the match, Snyder drove through on a double leg on the edge to cut the deficit to 5-4. As he had done for the entirety of the match, Snyder continued to wear on the head of Sadulaev with heavy collar ties and get him moving with shot takes and in the final 30 seconds of the match, Snyder pulled away with a go behind to seal the win over a visually defeated Sadulaev and hand the dominant Russian his first loss in four years.
Coming off his first loss in four years, Sadulaev was in a time of questioning about what his next move for the quad would be. With the emergence of the new Non-Olympic weight classes of 79 KG and 92 KG, Sadulaev had found his answer. Able to not have to completely drain himself for the cut down to 86 but not be dwarfed at 97 KG, Sadulaev could compete at his natural weight while he could have time to grow into 97 KG come time for the end of the quad to qualify for Russia.
Sadulaev's first competition at the new weight class of 92 KG would see him return to his old stomping grounds of the Ivan Yarygin Memorial, where he first made his name as an 18-year-old phenom. Making the finals with punishing tech falls over Nick Heflin (USA) and Turtogtokh Luvsandorj (MGL), Sadulaev was faced with an old rival in two-time Russian Nationals champion Urishev. Against the veteran, Sadulaev would look like the Russian Tank of old, with his swing single and underhook series looking crisp as ever in a commanding 6-0 win. Sadulev's next conquest would be gold at the Dan Kolov, dominating his way through the tournament and capping it off with a 10-0 win over #15 (92) Irakli Mtsituri (GEO) in the finals.
The dominance of the rejuvenated Sadulaev continued at the European Championships, crushing his first three opponents 33-2 to make the finals where he'd see 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Sharifov. In a highly physical rematch from their 86 KG semifinal match from Rio, it would be a step-out point and a shot clock violation that would win the day for Sadulaev in a 2-1 victory for European gold.
Making the move back up to 97 KG for Russian Nationals, Sadulaev dispatched Zaynulla Kurbanov (RUS), Georgi Gogaev (RUS) and #18 (125) Batraz Gazzaev (RUS) out by a margin of 27-2 to make the finals against #4 Vladislav Baitsaev (RUS). The Sadulaev, who barely got by Baitsaev, was a man long gone and in his place came the return of the Russian Tank who ran over Baitsaev 8-1 in an absolute thrashing for Russian National title number four.
The dominance on display from Sadulaev at the World Championships harkened back to his brutalizing 51-3 run through the 2015 world championships. Magomedgadzhi Nurov (MKD) was an 11-0 win in the opening round. Marat Ibragimov (KAZ) was the only man to score on Sadulaev and his reward was a 14-3 tech fall loss. 2016 Olympic bronze medalist #18 Magomed Ibragimov (UZB) was taken apart by Sadulaev 10-0 to make the semifinals. Odikadze was made to look amateur the way Sadulaev rag-dolled him in his 10-0 win. 45-3 was the margin of victory for Sadulaev and the only man standing between him and World/Olympic title #4 was reigning world champion Snyder. What had been a legendary bout, that saw Sadulaev struggle with the power of Snyder the year before, didn't even make it out of the first minute as Sadulaev effortlessly pinned Sadulaev with a roll through from under Snyder's front headlock. A legendary struggle that would be marked down in the history books had been suddenly turned to in under a year the wrestling equivalent of a one-punch knockout. Sadulaev had come for 97 KG and the weight class was now his and he wasn't letting it go.
Now back at the top, Sadulaev began his 2019 with European title #5 with victories over Hushtyn and Nurmagomed Gadzhiev (AZE). Sadulaev's 6th European Championships/Game title would come with a scoring difference of 23-0, taking victories of Magomedgadzhi Nurov (MKD) and Hushtyn before winning gold by forfeit over Nurmagomed Gadzhiev (AZE). Winning his wrestle-off at the Russian national team world team camp against Russian Nationals champion #4 Vladislav Batisaev (RUS) by tech fall, Sadulaev would go into the 2019 world championships to take World/Olympic title number five. Beating Nurov, Nicolae Ceban (MDA), and Alisher Yergali (KAZ) by a margin of 26-2, Sadulaev would get his rubber match against #12 Sharif Sharifov (AZE) in the world finals after Sharifov had upset returning world runner-up #3 Kyle Snyder (USA) 5-2 in the semis. Taking his third win over Sharifov by a 4-0 margin, Sadulaev won his fifth World/Olympic title and cemented himself as the favorite to win his second Olympic title up at 97 KG.
Sadulaev would compete twice in the truncated 2020 season, taking gold after a tumultuous run at the European Championships that saw him survive a pin scare to Ibragim Bolukbasi in the round of 16 and give up 10 points going into the finals, more than he had given up in total from 2015-2016. Sadulaev still won gold over 2016 Olympic bronze medalist #15 Albert Saritov (ROU) 6-0 in the finals. Competing for his fifth Russian Nationals title, Sadulaev outscored his competition 28-2 across three matches, beating 2018 92 KG U-23 world runner-up #19 Aslanbek Sotiev (RUS) in the finals.
The Individual World Cup would conclude 2020 for Sadulaev with another dominant showing, shutting out the competition 32-3 with victories over #7 Suleyman Karadeniz (TUR) and 2012 Olympic runner-up Valerii Andriitsev (UKR) before taking a forfeit in the finals from Hushtyn. Sadulaev's return in 2021 saw him make the finals of the Ali Aliev with wins over #4 Vladislav Baitsaev (RUS), #20 Magomedkhan Magomedov (RUS), Mojitaba Goleij (IRI) and David Kabisov (RUS) before forfeiting in the finals to #18 Magomed Ibragimov (UZB) due to a minor knee injury.
Going into the Tokyo Olympics, #1 Abdulrashid Sadulaev is looking to continue to build upon his legacy as one of the most dominant upperweights in modern history. With 7x World/Olympic champion Makharbek Khadartsev (RUS) setting the standard, Sadulaev is right there to take the title from the North Ossetian great. Taking on the resurgent contender #2 Mohammad Mohammadian (IRI) along with old rivals in #12 Sharif Sharifov (AZE) and #3 Kyle Snyder (USA) will have his path taken through the hardest road.