Three Advance to Finals on First Day of Men's Freestyle at 2022 World Championships

David Taylor in the 2022 World semifinals (photo courtesy of Kostadin Andonov/UWW)

The semifinal round was kicked off by Zain Retherford, who was on the precipice of his first Senior world medal. Standing between him, a medal, and the 70 kg world finals was a highly-decorated opponent in Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia). The three-time world medalist and 2017 world champion came into Belgrade fresh off a European Championship.

Iakobishvili's past didn't matter at all to Retherford, who grabbed a pair of points in the opening period off a step-out and a shot clock violation. As the second period progressed, Iakobishvili became noticeably winded and Retherford capitalized. He amassed two takedowns and a step out all off of a sweep single to the tired Georgian. Shortly after Retherford pushed the score to 7-0 the final seconds ticked off on the scoreboard.

Retherford clinched a world medal, though he is focused on making sure the color is gold. He'll have to contend with Taishi Narikuni (Japan), a bit of a surprise finalist. Narikuni was an Asian Champion earlier this year and knocked off the tournament's top seed, Ernazar Akmataliev (Kyrgyzstan) in a 10-10 semifinal shootout.

We went from Retherford locking up his first world medal to Jordan Burroughs who now has ten. Burroughs squared off with Ali Umarpashaev (Bulgaria), a two-time ninth-place finisher at the World Championships. Umarpashaev was never able to get into a rhythm due to Burroughs' motion, fakes, and level changes. Burroughs also dealt with an opponent who repeatedly pushed the boundaries of legal physicality. None seemed to fluster the veteran, who ended up winning via a 9-2 score.

Burroughs will now face off with his 2021 World finals opponent Mohammad Nokhodilarimi (Iran).

The third finalist on the day was David Taylor who started off slow against Azamat Dauletbekov (Kazakhstan), leading only 1-0 after a period. As is usually the case, Taylor wore on his opening and found several openings throughout the final two-plus minutes. A takedown followed by a gut wrench blew the match open and Taylor didn't stop until the scoreboard read 12-0.

Taylor's win sets up perhaps the most anticipated match of the entire tournament, as he will take on Hassan Yazdani (Iran). Taylor took the first three meetings between the two, including the 2020 Olympic finals; however, Yazdani returned the favor at the 2021 World Championships in Oslo. Both teams are expected to contend for the team titles, so this round could have extra implications.

In the 125 kg semifinal, perennial gold medal threat Geno Petriashvili (Georgia) suffered an upset loss to Mongolia's Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur, which eliminated Hayden Zillmer from the tournament.

2022 Senior World Championships US Results

70 kg Men's Freestyle

Semifinal: Zain Retherford over Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia) 7-0

79 kg Men's Freestyle

Semifinal: Jordan Burroughs over Ali Umarpashaev (Bulgaria) 9-2

86 kg Men's Freestyle

Semifinal: David Taylor over Azamat Dauletbekov (Kazakhstan) 12-0


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