Jordan Burroughs (left) and David Taylor (photo courtesy of Kadir Caliskan/UWW)
Friday proved to be the most eventful day of the 2022 World Championships, thus far, at least from an American perspective. The first three American finalists in the men's freestyle division were in action and there were plenty of fireworks associated with the results.
Two of the biggest storylines of the men's freestyle tournament were a potential rematch between David Taylor and Hassan Yazdani (Iran) in the 86 kg finals and Jordan Burroughs' pursuit of a seventh World/Olympic gold medal.
Since the finals were conducted in ascending order, by weight, Burroughs took the mat first. After a tactical first period that saw Burroughs behind on the scoreboard (1-0), he began to wear down his opponent, Mohammad Nokhodi. Nokhodi was Burroughs' opponent from the 2021 world finals, as well. In the second period, Burroughs seized the lead with one of his patented double leg takedowns. He also was active and did not allow his Iranian foe to come close to a takedown during the closing seconds. As those seconds ticked off the scoreboard it read 4-2 in favor of the undisputed greatest of all-time (GOAT) in American wrestling history.
After a pair of bronze medal matches at 86 kg, Taylor got on the raised stage opposite his rival Yazdani for the fifth time. The first three went Taylor's way, while Yazdani finally broke through in the 2021 world finals. Yazdani gained an early lead off of a shot clock violation, but it proved to be the one point he could muster against Taylor.
A takedown off of a low reshot late in the opening period put Taylor in the lead, a position he'd never relinquish. Throughout the bout, Taylor was able to get to Yazdani's legs and on three occasions he converted them into takedowns.
Perhaps most impressive was a sequence late in the second period where a Yazdani takedown looked imminent. Only inches away from a takedown and a possible momentum shift, Taylor was able to quickly get out of the dangerous position and then avoided exposure attempts from Yazdani.
Taylor finished the match to win via a 7-1 margin. This victory gives Taylor a second world title and third world/Olympic gold medal.
The afternoon session got underway for the Americans at 70kg as Zain Retherford took on Taishi Narikuni (Japan) in the gold medal match. In the first period, the two engaged in a prolonged scramble, which was eventually won by Narikuni. After securing the takedown, Narikuni was able to expose Retherford, then moved into a leg lace. He never released the hold and turned Retherford three more times to win 10-0 via technical superiority.
Retherford settles for a silver medal, which is his first world hardware in three trips to the tournament.
This morning, three more past world champions started their tournaments. Thomas Gilman (57 kg), Kyle Dake (74 kg), and J'den Cox (92 kg) all advanced to the tournament's gold medal matches at their respective weights. Gilman and Cox were met with little resistance during their run to the finals, while Dake had to grind out a 2-2 win over Iran's Yones Emamichoghaei.
2022 Senior World Championships US Results
57 kg Men's Freestyle
Semifinals: Thomas Gilman over Wanhao Zou (China) 8-2
70 kg Men's Freestyle
Gold Medal Match: Taishi Narikuni (Japan) over Zain Retherford (USA) 10-0
74 kg Men's Freestyle
Semifinals: Kyle Dake over Yones Emamichoghaei (Iran) 2-2
79 kg Men's Freestyle
Gold Medal Match: Jordan Burroughs over Mohammad Nokhodi (Iran) 4-2
86 kg Men's Freestyle
Gold Medal Match: David Taylor over Hassan Yazdani (Iran) 7-1
92 kg Men's Freestyle
Semifinals: J'den Cox over Osman Nurmagomedov (Azerbaijan) 7-0