2021 World Champion Kyle Dake (Photo Courtesy of Tony Rotundo/UWW)
Dominant #3 Thomas Gilman (USA) and upset-minded Alireza Sarlak (IRI) break through into the 57 KG world finals.
Returning Olympic bronze medalist #3 Thomas Gilman (USA) has been a man on a mission through his way to the gold medal finals at 57 KG. A pin in the round of 16 over #6 Abubakar Mutaliev (RWF) avenged two past losses from 2019 to the Russian for Gilman and an 11-0 tech fall over Vladimir Egorov (MKD) got Gilman into the world semis. 2020 European bronze medalist Horst Lehr (GER) was neck and neck with Gilman early in the match, even headlocking the 2017 world runner-up in what looked to be developing into a potential upset scare. But Gilman turned on a whole other gear and picked the powerful German apart, winning his semifinal bout 15-5 to make his second world finals match and looking to improve on his silver from 2017.
A U-23 world bronze medalist in 2019, Alireza Sarlak (IRI) was the #2 man behind Tokyo 5th place finisher #4 Reza Atri (IRI) and sent to world's in his absence. As a backup on a loaded Iranian team, Sarlak's performance was a flex of Iran's depth as he used upsets over #15 Aryan Tyutrin (BLR) and 2019 world runner-up #8 Suleyman Atli (TUR) to blaze his way into the finals.
Gilman has looked the part of a man possessed at this tournament and while Sarlak has looked great on his own, Gilman has jumped levels and is ready for gold. The way Gilman has been wrestling in the past 3 months has put him right there in conversation as a world title contender to three-time World/Olympic champion #1 Zavur Uguev (RWF). If Sarlak is capable of stopping this version of Gilman, it will be a true testament to the power of Iran and the dominance they will have in this quad, but I lean towards Gilman getting gold here.
#1 Abasgadzhi Magomedov (RWF) cements his top status by stopping dominant #4 Daton Fix (USA) in the 61 KG world finals
In the first world finals of the 2021 world championships, #1 Abasgadzhi Magomedov (RWF) and #4 Daton Fix (USA) met in a rematch from their 2015 Cadet world quarterfinal match. Since then, Fix had gone on to make six more world teams while Magomedov took the #1 spot in the world at the end of 2020 off the strength of two Russian Nationals titles and a European title. Even as good as the two are, neither man laid claim to a Senior world championship, and both fought fiercely for gold in Oslo. The composure and fundamentals of Magomedov would win the day over the explosive style of Fix, as the Russian champion used a strong single-leg attack and defense to take the 4-1 victory over the dominant American.
Taking bronze was the surging Toshihiro Hasegawa of Japan, who upended 2018 world bronze medalist Tuvshintulga Tumenbileg (MGL) in a dominant 12-1 showing. Along with his victory over Tumenbileg, Hasegawa notched ranked wins over #13 Nico Megerle (GER), #9 Rahman Amouzadkhalili (IRI) and #7 Eduard Grigorev (POL). 2019 European champion Arsen Harutyunyan (ARM) was also dominant on his way to his first Senior world medal earning a first-period tech fall over Ravinder Ravinder (IND).
#3 Zagir Shakhiev (RWF) survives upset scare from Tulga Tumur Ochir (MGL), Amir Mohammad Yazdani Charati (IRI) ends 6-year medal drought at 65 KG for Iran with finals berth.
#3 Zagir Shakhiev (RWF) had to overcome two huge upset scares to make his way into the 65 KG world finals; A razor-thin 5-4 victory over Indian national champion Rohit Rohit was followed by a more comfortable 11-0 tech fall over 2019 European runner-up Selehattin Killicsallyan (TUR) in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Shakhiev snatched victory from the jaws of defeat from the powerful Tulga Tumur Ochir (MGL). Tumur Ochir, fresh off a 2-1 upset over #6 Vazgen Tevanyan (ARM) in the quarterfinals, stymied the offense of Shakhiev through 5 minutes of the match to lead 2-0 off a stepout and passivity point, when in the final 45 seconds of the match Shakhiev gets a takedown and exposure to take a 4-2 lead. In the last four seconds of the match, Tumur Ochir scored a go-behind takedown, but because he'd had the lower valued scores (one passivity point, one takedown, one pushout) compared to Shakhiev's (one takedown, one exposure), he lost the match on criteria. A furious Tumur Ochir was distraught and a protest ensued from the Mongolian coaches, but unlike the one made iconic from Rio, everyone kept their clothes on and the semifinals were able to proceed.
On the same side of the bracket, #6 Vazgen Tevanyan (ARM) met the highly touted #18 Yianni Diakomihalis (USA) in the round of 16. Diakomihalis, who burst onto the scene in 2019 with wins over world medalists #5 Bajrang Punia (IND) and #11 Ismail Musukaev (HUN), trailed Tevanyan 1-0 at the end of the first. But the strength of Tevanyan took over in the second as the Armenian bullied his way through two takedowns to secure the 5-1 lead over the American standout.
2021 Asian Olympic qualifier runner-up Amir Mohammad Yazdani Charati (IRI) carved his way through the other side of the bracket with victories over Rutgers All-American Sebastian Rivera (PUR), Gabriel Janatsch (AUT), Krysztof Bienkowski (POL) and Alibek Osmonov (KGZ). Yazdani Charati joins his cousin, 86 KG world champion Hassan Yazdani Charati (IRI), along with Kamran Ghasempour, Amir Zare, and Mohammad Nokhodilarimi as finalists for a resurgent Iranian team at the world championships.
#3 Kyle Dake (USA) stops resurgent #14 Taimuraz Salkazanov (SVK) for world gold at 74 KG.
#14 Taimuraz Salkazanov (SVK) has had an absolute career-defining year, coming back from failing to place at the European Olympic qualifier to winning the European championships over a stacked lineup of World/Olympic medalists in #4 Frank Chamizo (ITA), #5 Razambek Zhamalov (RWF) and #8 Avtandil Kentchadze (GEO). A 12-4 loss in the semifinals of the World Olympic qualifier to eventual Olympic runner-up #2 Magomedkhabib Kadimagomedov (BLR) saw the talented Slovakian on the outside looking in for Tokyo. Followed up by a bronze medal finish in September at the Medved, where he was upset by 2019 Intercontinental Cup runner-up #13 Magomed Dibirgadzhiev (RWF); Salkazanov's back was against the wall coming into Oslo.
In another career-defining moment, Salkazanov showed he was more than one good tournament, beating the likes of Alipasha Umarpashaev (BUL), #6 Timur Bizhoev (RWF) and #8 Avtandil Kentchadze (GEO) to make the finals. In the finals against the returning two-time 79 KG world champion #3 Kyle Dake (USA), Salkazanov led Dake 2-1 halfway through the match, when the experienced American pulled away with two takedowns and a gut wrench to pull away with a 7-2 lead with a final Salkazanov making the score 7-3 for Kyle Dake as he won his third world title.
Taimuraz Salkazanov has been on the rise throughout the 2016-2021 quad and seeing him cap it off with a world runner-up finish in the toughest weight to go along with a European gold is indicative of the talent level and ability of the Slovakian. Expect to see him continue to contend for gold in the upcoming quad as the landscape of 74 KG continues to grow and change.
Kyle Dake's incredible run continues as the American has truly cemented himself as one of the best middleweights of the generation after his third world title. With the longevity of Dake, expect to see him be in title contention throughout this quad and in the Paris Games.
Taking bronze at 74 KG was Fazli Eryilmaz (TUR) over #12 Azamat Nurikov (BLR) and #6 Timur Bizhoev (RWF) over 2018 world runner-up #8 Avtandil Kentchadze (GEO). The Bizhoev/Kentchadze match was especially entertaining as Bizhoev was down 6-1 late into the match and used a clutch reversal and three exposures to take a 7-6 lead over Kentchadze. In the final 15 seconds of the match, the powerful Kentchadze got in on a shot and Bizhoev showed incredible defense and poise, continually adjusting and fighting Kentchadze as he drove through for the pushout in the waning seconds. A failed Kentchadze challenge made the final score 8-6 for Bizhoev and gave him the career lead in their match series along with a victory in the 2018 Alans finals against Kentchadze's win in the 2018 U-23 semifinals.
#1 Jordan Burroughs (USA) and Junior world champion #20 Mohammad Nokhodilarimi (IRI) impress on their way to the 79 KG world finals.
#1 Jordan Burroughs (USA) continues to make history as he booked his spot in his sixth World/Olympic finals, with his best win coming in the quarterfinals 9-4 of #3 Radik Valiev (RWF). Burroughs' other wins in his 10th World/Olympic championships were Bolat Sakaev (KAZ), Ryuki Yoshida (JPN) and Samuel Barrish (CAN).
#20 Mohammad Nokhodilarimi (IRI) put together wins over European runner-up Saifedine Alekma (FRA) and #7 Nika Kentchadze (GEO) in the quarterfinals and semifinals to make his second world finals of the year after taking gold at Junior worlds. Nokhodilarimi's semifinal match against #7 Nika Kentchadze (GEO) was especially entertaining as Nokhodilarimi overcame multiple Kentchadze fouls to walk away with the 6-5 victory.
Some other prominent performers in the bracket were Junior European bronze medalist Giorgios Kougiomtsidis (GRE) beating U-23 European champion #18 Ramazan Sari (IRI) and Junior world runner-up Ashraf Ashirov (AZE) over European champion #9 Akhsarbek Gulaev (SVK) in the round of 16.
#2 Hassan Yazdani Charati (IRI) takes back the title of the greatest as he beats Olympic champion #1 David Taylor (USA) for 86 KG world gold.
#2 Hassan Yazdani Charati (IRI) trailed reigning Olympic champion 0-3 in the match series with losses at the 2017 World Cup, 2018 World Championships and the Olympic finals in August. Closing the gap each time, Yazdani was a man on a mission in Oslo, completely dominating #1 David Taylor (USA), taking two stepouts in the first and two takedowns in the second for the 6-2 win and his fourth World/Olympic title.
#3 Artur Naifonov (RWF) won his third World/Olympic medal with a controlled 3-0 win over Azamat Dauletbekov (KAZ), while #15 Abubakar Abakarov (AZE) capped off a great run with a 9-5 victory over 2017 world runner-up #14 Boris Makoev (SVK) for bronze.
#2 Kamran Ghasempour (IRI) takes out reigning two-time world champion #13 J'den Cox (USA) to make the 92 KG world finals against #1 Magomed Kurbanov (RWF).
#2 Kamran Ghasempour (IRI) has been undefeated in international Senior competition for the past three years, only taking losses domestically to 4x World/Olympic champion #2 (86) Hassan Yazdani Charati (IRI) in 2018, 2019, and 2021. In the semifinals, Ghasempour faced off against the reigning two-time world champion #13 J'den Cox (USA). Cox, known for his defensive mastery and speed, was stunned by Ghasempour, who got in on multiple leg attacks and controlled the center against the physically dominant Cox for the massive 3-3 victory.
#1 Magomed Kurbanov (RWF) used wins over #11 Amarhadzhi Magomedov (BLR) and #14 Osman Nurmagomedov (AZE) to make the finals. #14 Osman Nurmagomedov (AZE) had an impressive run to the semifinals as the U-23 European runner-up beat out #6 Zbigniew Baranowski (POL) and Junior World bronze medalist Pruthviraj Patil (IND). #6 Zbigniew Baranowski (POL) put together a dominant win over U-23 European champion #8 Erhan Yaylaci (TUR) to make the quarterfinals but was put out by #14 Osman Nurmagomedov (AZE).
#3 Amir Zare (IRI), the new heavyweight king as he unseats #1 Taha Akgul (TUR) and #2 Geno Petriashvili (GEO) for world gold.
#3 Amir Zare (IRI) was a man on a mission in Tokyo and in his finals match as the Iranian star avenged his Tokyo semifinal loss to three-time world champion #2 Geno Petriashvili (GEO) with a powerful 9-2 victory. Capping it off with an amazing backflip, Zare's world title came with wins over Petriashvili, #1 Taha Akgul (TUR), #8 Nick Gwiazdowski (USA) and #10 Dzianis Khramiankov (BLR). Zare is the new king of heavyweight and I'm hard-pressed to think of anyone not named Gable Steveson who could beat him right now.
Taking bronze at heavyweight was #1 Taha Akgul (TUR) over two-time world bronze medalist #8 Nick Gwiazdowski (USA) 6-4 and #9 Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur (MGL) over Oleg Boltin (KAZ) 5-3.