2022 Russian Nationals Day One Wrap-Up

92 kg World silver medalist Magomed Kurbanov (photos courtesy of Tony Rotundo;

Returning national champion #4 Malik Shavaev shines at 79 KG.

#4 Malik Shavaev put together an amazing run to make his second Russian Nationals finals. Repeating his wins from the 2021 Russian National tournament, Shavaev beat 2020 national champion #12 Akhmed Usmanov 7-4 and won the best match of the tournament in his 3-3 quarterfinal thriller against 2021 world bronze medalist #3 Radik Valiev to make the semis, where he walked through Begkhan Misrikhanov 6-1. Shavaev is part of the trio of wrestlers from the Kabardino-Balkar Republic who made the Russian nationals along with the Zakuev brothers having Anzor making the finals at 70 and Azamat at 92 KG.

On the bottom half of the bracket, 2021 U23 world champion #13 Magomed Magomaev proved himself to be the cream of the crop with victories over 2020 national runner-up Gadzhimurad Alikhmaev, Nikita Suchkov, Arsan Balyan and Kakhaber Khubezhty to make the finals. Magomaev is an incredibly physical young talent who pushes a brutal pace in his matches and I highly anticipate the contrast between him and the explosive body lock technician Shavaev in their finals match.

#1 Abasgadzhi Magomedov rolls into third national final at 61 KG. #7 (57) Akhmed Idrisov looks for first national title.

On the top half of the bracket, 2020 57 KG Russian Nationals bronze medalist #7 (57) Akhmed Idrisov survived a close 6-6 criteria victory against returning Russian Nationals bronze medalist Cherman Tavitov to secure his spot in the semis and beat out another returning Russian Nationals bronze medalist in Aldar Balzhinimaev 3-0 to make his first Senior Russian Nationals finals match.

On the bottom half of the bracket, reigning world champion #1 Abasgadzhi Magomedov was dominant on his way through to the semis for his much-anticipated match against Russian Junior National champion #5 Bashir Magomedov. Solidifying his superiority over Magomedov, Abasgadzhi made his third straight Russian Nationals finals with a 4-0 victory. While Abasgadzi hasn't tasted defeat since the 2020 Yarygin against Alexander Bogomoev, the dominant 2021 world champion has looked vulnerable at the Yarygin in close matches #8 Fedor Baltuev and #7 Muslim Mekhtikhanov. While this could be chalked up to early-season rust with the Yarygin being in January, don't count out Idrisov as a serious threat to Magomedov's domestic dominance.

#7 Israil Kasumov takes back the reigns at 70 KG, #13 Anzor Zakuev breaks through.
In what was one of the deepest brackets on day one, returning national champion #7 Israil Kasumov showed himself in top form. After avenging a loss from the Ivan Poddubny tournament to #5 Ruslan Zhendaev by a dominant 13-0 tech fall, Kasumov kept the momentum going all the way through the semifinals where he thumped Yarygin champion #4 Viktor Rassadin 12-3 to make his fifth Russian Nationals finals appearance in pursuit of his second title.

Facing Kasumov in the finals will be the breakthrough of the tournament, #13 Anzor Zakuev. Zakuev, an age group standout always on the precipice of greatness, with excellent showings at the 2016 Russian Nationals, 2017 Junior European championships, 2019 Dan Kolov and 2021 Russian Nationals, finally put it all together domestically to place for the first time at Senior Russian Nationals and make his first finals appearance in the process. Zakuev notched the biggest win of his career when he blanked two-time Russian Nationals champion and title favorite #6 Kurban Shiraev in the quarterfinals and followed it with a 9-6 victory over 2021 Russian Nationals bronze medalist Abdulla Akhmedov in the semis. Zakuev's offensive diversity and impressive pace make him a handful and I am excited to see what challenges he brings to the dangerous veteran Kasumov in the finals.

#2 Magomed Kurbanov dominant on path to third national finals at 92 KG, #13 Azamat Zakuev returns to form.

After twice finishing as a Russian Nationals runner-up in 2019 and 2020 to #8 (97) Alikhan Zhabrailov, 2021 world runner-up #2 Magomed Kurbanov is poised to win his second national title after a strong showing on day one to secure his spot in the finals. In the semifinals, Kurbanov dominated Russian Junior National champion #14 Magomed Sharipov 10-0 in the semifinals to go with a 9-0 victory over Yarygin runner-up #17 Tamerlan Tapsiev and a 4-0 win over Khabib Gadzhiev.

In contrast to the dominance of Kurbanov, returning Russian Nationals bronze medalist #13 Azamat Zakuev made his way to the finals on the strength of close wins. Taking a tight 3-1 win over Yarygin champion #15 Guram Chertkoev, to set up a pivotal semifinal bout against #5 Vladislav Valiev, Zakuev returned to his top form and beat out the former 2017 86 KG world bronze medalist Valiev 2-1 to make his first national finals. This is a great return for Zakuev who showed himself to be a consensus top-five talent at the end of 2021 by beating 14x Russian Nationals medalist Anzor Urishev to make the finals of the Russian World Team Trials wrestle-off where he fell to #2 Magomed Kurbanov. I'm interested to see if Zakuev can tap into the impressive offensive arsenal he has or if he will try to continue his trend of close matches into the finals and hold on for the win against the stingy Kurbanov.


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