Alec Pantaleo at the 2022 World Cup (photo courtesy of Kadir Caliskan/UWW)
#1 Zavur Uguev (RUS) won his showcase match at PWL 3 over #8 Gulomjon Abdullaev (UZB). 2022 61 KG Senior world champion #1 (61) Rei Higuchi (JPN) won the Emperor's Cup at 57 KG over 2022 Asian Championships bronze medalist Rikuto Arai (JPN) and notched a dominant 10-0 win over 2017 Senior world champion Yuki Takahashi (JPN) in the semifinals. Bronze medalists at the Emperor's Cup were Ryuto Sakai (JPN) and Yuto Nishiuchi (JPN). Higuchi's return to 57 KG, the weight that saw him take silver at the 2016 Olympics to Vladimir Khinchegashvili (GEO), sees him take the #2 spot in the rankings behind reigning Olympic champion Uguev.
2022 world champion #3 Zelimkhan Abakarov (ALB) went 3-0 competing for the All-World Team at the World Cup, notching victories over the likes of Taichi Yamaguchi (JPN), Reza Momeni (IRI), and Beka Bujiashvili (GEO). Zane Richards (USA) enters the rankings at #20 for beating 2022 Senior world bronze medalist #18 Zanabazar Zandanbud (MGL) at the World Cup.
Ramazan Abdurakhimov (RUS) returns to the rankings at #12 for his runner-up finish at the International Khasavyurt Tournament to 2022 Senior Russian Nationals bronze medalist #11 Musa Mekhtikhanov (RUS). At the tournament, Abdurakhimov avenged his loss in the 2022 Russian Nationals bronze medal match to #10 Ramiz Gamzatov (RUS) with a 20-8 win and beat 2021 Senior World representative Abubakar Mutaliev (RUS). Bronze medalists at the International Khasavyurt Tournament were Imran Khunkerov (RUS) and #13 Ramiz Gamzatov (RUS). Ayaal Belolyubsky (RUS) won the Yumshanova tournament over Zhargal Bayanduev (RUS) with Lyobmir Ashein (RUS) and Dyulustaan Fedotov (RUS).
#1 Rei Higuchi (JPN) cut down to 57 KG where he won the Emperor's Cup over Rikuto Arai (JPN). Higuchi is dropped from the 61 KG rankings, so #2 Abasgadzhi Magomedov (RUS) regains the top spot in the rankings. Taking over Higuchi's spot as the top man in Japan is Kodai Ogawa (JPN) who won the Emperor's Cup over Hayato Fujita (JPN). Bronze medalists at the Emperor's Cup were Kaito Morita (JPN) and Taichi Yamaguchi (JPN).
Magomedov won the International Khasavyurt Tournament over #2 Akhmed Idrisov (RUS) by an impressive 12-1 technical superiority victory. Taking bronze at the International Khasavyurt Tournament was #9 Muslim Mekhtikhanov (RUS) and Dinislam Takhtarov (RUS). Mekhtikhanov had an impressive showing wrestling up at 65 KG for the Russia Cup, beating the likes of 2018 65 KG Alans champion Muslim Saidulaev (RUS), Bulat Bayasholonov (RUS), #16 (65) Elbrus Valiev (RUS), and Vyacheslav Bestaev (RUS). #13 Dzhabrail Gairbekov (RUS) went 1-2 wrestling up at 65 KG for the Russia Cup, losing to Saidulaev and Valiev, but taking a win over 2020 61 KG Yarygin bronze medalist Kezhik Chimba (RUS)
#3 Arsen Harutyunyan (ARM) avenged his loss from the 2022 Takhti Cup with a 6-0 win over 2022 Senior World runner-up #4 Reza Atri (IRI). 2022 U23 World runner-up #18 Taiyrbek Zhumashbek Uulu (KGZ) went 2-1 competing up at 65 KG for the All-World Team at the World Cup, beating 2019 61 KG world champion Beka Lomtadze (GEO) and 65 KG Emperor's Cup runner-up Ryoma Anraku (JPN), while losing to 2022 65 KG Senior World champion #1 Rahman Amouzad (IRI). Nahshon Garrett (USA) takes the #20 spot in the rankings after a dominant 12-2 win over 2020 European runner-up Andrey Dzhelep (UKR) at Beat The Streets. Alexander Avelov (RUS) won the Yumshanova Tournament over Said Khunkerov (RUS) with Fyodor Postnikov (RUS) and Yakov Pavlov (RUS) taking bronze.
2020 Olympic champion Takuto Otoguro (JPN) made his successful return to competition after being out for over a year by winning gold at the Emperor's Cup. Otoguro won gold over Ryoma Anraku (JPN) with Kaiji Ogino (JPN) and Kotaro Kiyooka (JPN) taking bronze. Otoguro's return to the rankings sees him slot at #2 behind reigning world champion #1 Rahman Amouzadkhalili (IRI).
Amouzadkhalili (went undefeated at the World Cup, winning a rematch of the 2022 Senior World finals against #8 Yianni Diakomihalis (USA) and beating 2022 61 KG U23 world runner-up #18 (61) Taiyrbek Zhumashbek Uulu (KGZ). 2021 Senior World bronze medalist #14 Tulga Tumur Ochir (MGL) jumped up seven spots in the rankings after his successful performances at the World Cup and the PWL 3, beating the likes of 2022 Senior World silver medalist Diakomihalis, 2019 61 KG Senior World champion Beka Lomtadze (GEO), and 2022 Senior Russian Nationals champion #10 Ibragim Ibragimov (RUS). Diakomihalis went 1-2 at the World Cup losing to Amouzad and Tumur Ochir, while notching a win over Lomtadze.
#6 Shamil Mamedov (RUS) won the International Khasavayurt Tournament over Ibragim Abdurakhmanov (RUS) with Dalgat Abdulkadyrov (RUS) and Ramazan Bagavudinov (RUS) taking bronze. #11 Dzhamabulat Kizinov (RUS) is out of the rankings after losing in the finals of the Yumshanova Tournament to Bulat Bayasholonov (RUS). Robert Manasyan (RUS) and Ezir Tylyush (RUS) took bronze at the Yumshanova tournament. #16 Elbrus Valiev (RUS) went 2-1 at the Russia Cup, beating #13 (61) Dzhabrail Gairbekov (RUS) and Kezhik Chimba (RUS) while losing to #9 (61) Muslim Mekhtikhanov (RUS). Erik Arushanian (UKR) beat 2022 Final X runner-up Evan Henderson (USA) at Beat The Streets.
PWL 3 and the World Cup caused a significant shakeup in the top ten of 70 KG, so we'll start off by addressing the World Cup first. Alec Pantaleo (USA) went undefeated at the where he defeated #9 Amir Mohammad Yazdani (IRI) and #8 Giorgi Elbakidze (GEO). Yazdani went 1-1 where he beat #2 Ernazar Akmataliev (KGZ) and lost to Pantaleo. At PWL 3, Ilyas Bekbulatov (UZB) upset #3 Evgheni Zherbaev (RUS).
The fallout of the World Cup and PWL 3 caused a slew of changes in the rankings. Unranked Bekbulatov and Pantaleo are the biggest movers this month slotting in at #2 and #3. Bekbulatov takes the #2 spot for his win over Zherbaev and his wins over World/Olympic medalists #4 Haji Aliyev (AZE), Soslan Ramonov (RUS), Magomed Kurbanaliev (RUS), and #14 (65) Bajrang Punia (IND). Pantaleo takes the #3 slot for beating #8 Giorgi Elbakidze (GEO) and Yazdani at the World Cup to go along with his career wins over #4 (65) Haji Aliyev (AZE), James Green (USA), and Daulet Niyazbekov (KAZ). Yazdani moves up five spots to #4 for his win over Akmataliev at the World Cup. Akmataliev and Zherbaev both drop three spots to #5 and #6 after their losses to Yazdani and Bekbulatov. Elbakidze does have a win in November in the U23 world finals over Yazdani, but is unable to rise above the Iranian in the rankings due to his loss at the World Cup to Akhmataliev.
Yoshinosuke Aoyagi (JPN) won the Emperor's Cup over Daiju Suzuki (JPN) with Toki Ogawa (JPN) and Taishin Yamaji (JPN) taking bronze. #12 Inalbek Sheriev (RUS) won the International Khasavyurt Tournament by injury default over #3 Ismail Musukaev (HUN). Bronze medalists at the International Khasavyurt Tournament were Umar Mutaliyev (RUS) and Akhmed Kasumov (RUS). #13 Alan Kudzoev (RUS) tech falled #19 Arpak Sat (RUS) 12-1 up at 74 KG at the Russia Cup. Oleg Formin (RUS) won the Yumshanova Tournament over Georgy Sekinaev (RUS) with Sergey Yakimov (RUS) taking bronze.
#11 Timur Bizhoev (RUS) won the International Khasavyurt Tournament over Khabib Magomedov (RUS). Bronze medalists at the International Khasavyurt Tournament were Saipulla Alibulatov (RUS) and Magomet Evloev (RUS). #8 Kurban Shiraev (RUS) was dropped from the rankings after his quarterfinal loss at the International Khasavyurt Tournament to Evloev. Shiraev was eliminated from the tournament when Evloev lost to Magomedov in the semifinals. Magomedov is in the rankings at #20 for finishing runner-up.
2022 U23 World Champion Mohammdsadegh Firouzpourbandpei (IRI) is in the rankings at #8 for beating #10 Jason Nolf (USA) in the finals of the World Cup. Daichi Takatani (JPN) won the Emperor's Cup over Kirin Kinoshita (JPN) with Kojiro Shiga (JPN) and Kota Takahashi (JPN) taking bronze. #1 Zaurbek Sidakov (RUS) beat 2022 Senior World bronze medalist #19 Younes Emami (IRI) 6-4 at PWL 3. Saipulla Alibulatov (RUS) won the Yumshanova Tournament over Alexander Baltuev (RUS) with Alban Avvakumov (RUS) and Vasiliy Kirillin (RUS) taking bronze.
#2 Ali Savadkouhi (IRI) took over the number one spot in the rankings after a 6-6 criteria win over reigning world champion #1 Jordan Burroughs (USA) in the finals of the World Cup. In the last two years, Savadkouhi has managed victories over World/Olympic medalists the likes of #1 (74) Zaurbek Sidakov (RUS), #2 Jordan Burroughs (USA), #4 Magomedkhabib Kadimagomedov (BLR), and #6 Mohammad Nokhodilarimi (IRI) while still not laying claim to a Senior world medal. While Burroughs did lose his top spot in the rankings to Savadkouhi, he was able to take a 5-3 victory over 2022 U23 World champion #16 Vladimieri Gamkrelidze (GEO).
#3 Akhmed Usmanov (RUS) won the International Khasavyurt Tournament over #7 Khalid Yakhiev (RUS) with #13 Gadzhimurad Alikhmaev (RUS) and Musa Baziev (RUS) taking bronze. Salamat Dzhioev (RUS) won the Yumshanova Tournament over Dmitri Zainidoev (RUS) with Alik Badtiev (RUS) and Andrian Lensky (RUS) taking bronze. Yajuro Yamasaki (JPN) won the Emperor's Cup over Kosuke Yamakura (JPN) with Takahiro Murayama (JPN) and Kota Abe (JPN) taking bronze.
#15 Vincenzo Joseph (USA) has been removed from the rankings as he dropped down to 74 KG where he went 0-1 at the World Cup with a loss to Zandanbud Sumiyaabazar (MGL). Evan Wick (USA) enters the rankings at #19 for beating 2022 Senior World bronze medalist #9 Vasyl Mykhailov (UKR). Wick cannot rise higher in the rankings due to him having domestic losses to #17 Carter Starocci (USA), #18 Alex Dieringer (USA) and Taylor Lujan (USA).
#7 Zahid Valencia (USA) went undefeated at the World Cup with a 3-0 record, notching significant wins over three-time world medalist #5 Alireza Karimimachiani (IRI) and 2015 world bronze Sandro Aminashvili (GEO). Valencia climbs up two spots in the rankings to #5 for his victory over Karimimachiani who falls to #6. Karimimachiani did notch strong victories over 2022 Senior World bronze medalist #7 Azamat Dauletbekov (KAZ) and 2022 U23 world champion Tatsuya Shirai (JPN). Dauletbekov (KAZ) went 2-2 during December competing at the World Cup and PWL taking wins over Tatsuya Shirai (JPN) and Aminashvili, while taking losses to #3 Artur Naifonov (RUS) and Karimimachiani.
#4 Malik Shavaev (RUS) had a rocky end to 2022 as he took losses to #20 Arsenali Musalaliev (RUS) and Amanulla Gadzhimagomedov (RUS) at the International Khasavyurt Tournament and the Russia Cup to fall five spots in the rankings to #9. At the International Khasavyurt Tournament, #20 Arsenali Musalaliev (RUS) was able to take gold over #9 Malik Shavaev (RUS) while Tazhidin Akaev (RUS) and Magomedmurad Dadaev (RUS) took bronze. Concerning Shavaev's loss to Gadzhimagomedov at the Russia Cup, Gadzhimagomedov debuts in the 86 KG rankings at #16 and #18 Adam Anzorov (RUS) rises three spots in the rankings to #15 for his victory over Gadzhimagomedov. Anzorov lost to Shavaev at the Russia Cup.
Hayato Ishiguro (JPN) won the Emperor's Cup over Yudai Takahashi (JPN) with Taisei Matsuyuki (JPN) and Fumiya Igarashi (JPN) taking bronze. Arslan Bagaev (RUS) won the Yumshanova Tournament over Magomednabi Magomedov (RUS) with Soso Toroyan (RUS) and Maxim Sudakov (RUS) taking bronze.
The World Cup saw a bevy of ranked matchups that affected the rankings. #7 Nathan Jackson (USA) used victories over #9 Amirhossein Firouzpourbandpei (IRI) and 2022 Senior World bronze medalist Miriani Maisuradze (GEO) to move up three spots in the rankings to #4. Jackson's win from the 2022 Final X over 2022 Senior World runner-up #2 J'den Cox (USA) gives him ranking superiority over #5 Mohammad Asami (IRI), whose only ranked win is #6 Osman Nurmagomedov (AZE). Firouzpourbandpei, gold medalist at the U20 and U23 world championships in 2022, went 0-2 at the World Cup with losses to Jackson and Nurmagomedov. #1 Kamran Ghasempour (IRI) went 1-1 at the World Cup, beating Satoshi Miura (JPN) and losing at 97 KG to #2 (97) Kyle Snyder (USA).
Ashkab Saadulaev (RUS) put together an exceptional run in December to make his rankings debut at #9 after a title at the International Khasavyurt Tournament and a victorious showing at the Russia Cup. In the finals of the International Khasavyurt Tournament, Saadulaev upset 2022 Senior Russian Nationals silver medalist #10 Azamat Zakuev (RUS) while Gadzhimagomed Nazhmudinov (RUS) and Khamzat Anzorov (RUS) took bronze. At the Russia Cup, Saadulaev put together wins over #11 Guram Chertkoev (RUS), #17 Alan Bagaev (RUS), Anzorov, and Ayur Nimaev (RUS).
Anzorov (RUS) debuts in the rankings at #19 for beating Chertkoev at the Russia Cup and taking bronze at the International Khasavyurt Tournament. Sosuke Takatani (JPN) won his twelfth national title over Arashi Yoshida (JPN) at the Emperor's Cup. Bronze medalists at the Emperor's Cup were Takeshi Yamaguchi (JPN) and Ryoichi Yamanaka (JPN). Nikita Sofronov (RUS) won the Yumshanova Tournament over Sofron Sofronov (RUS) with Alikhan Kotsoev (RUS) taking bronze. #3 Dauren Kurugliev won his match at PWL 3 over Erhan Yaylaci of Turkey by injury default.
#2 Kyle Snyder (USA) won ranked matches at the World Cup over #1 (92) Kamran Ghasempour (IRI) and #4 Givi Matcharashvili (GEO). Other ranked matches that took place were #3 Batyrbek Tsakulov (SVK) over Matcharashvili and unranked Amirali Azarpira (IRI) over Tsakulov. In the aftermath of the World Cup, the top ten was flipped on its head., because Azarpira had an unranked loss at the Junior world championships to Rifat Gidak (TUR) which negatively impacts his placement in the top five. Going back to the duo of Russian 97's with wins over Tsakulov, I went with putting #8 Alikhan Zhabrailov (RUS) at #3 and #9 Magomed Kurbanov (RUS) at #9. Here's why: Zhabrailov has multiple wins (2019 and 2020 92 KG Russian Nationals) and Kurbanov has multiple wins over Tsakulov (2019 Yarygin and Russian Nationals, 2020 Russian Nationals) plus both Zhabrailov and Kurbanov have higher quantity of ranked wins then Azarpira (#11 Sergey Kozyrev and #18 Aslanbek Sotiev for both men compared to just Tsakulov for Azarpira). Azarpira debuts in the top five at #5 while Tsakulov and Matcharashvili fall three spots each to #6 and #7. Kozyrev upset 2021 Senior World bronze medalist #10 Mojtaba Goleij (IRI) 4-3 off a clutch last-second duck under at PWL 3. Kozyrev bumps up one spot to #11 while Goleij bumps down two spots to #12.
#16 Gadzhimagomed Tazhudinov (RUS) won the International Khasavyurt Tournament over 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Magomed Ibragimov (UZB). Taking bronze was Nursultan Azov (RUS) and Suleiman Omarov (RUS). Takashi Ishiguro (JPN) won the Emperor's Cup over Hibiki Ito (JPN) with Shohei Yamazaki (JPN) and Hiroto Ninomiya (JPN) taking bronze. Tamil Dzhikaev (RUS) won the Yumshanova Tournament over Maxim Tolmachev (RUS) with Tamerlan Kotsoev (RUS) taking bronze. 2021 U23 world bronze medalist Jay Aiello (USA) won his match at Beat The Streets against Illia Archaia (UKR). In a ranked matchup between 92 KG and 97 KG, #10 (92) Azamat Zakuev (RUS) beat #14 Ramazan Shakhbanov (RUS) 4-1.
There were no ranked matches at heavyweight at the World Cup. 2022 Senior world bronze medalist #2 Amir Zare (IRI) beat 2022 Senior world runner-up #3 Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur (MGL) 10-4 at PWL 3. Artem Tskhorebov (RUS) won the International Khasavyurt Tournament by injury default over #16 Khasan Khubaev (RUS) while Nikita Khabarov (RUS) took bronze over Khabib Davugadzhiev (RUS). Daiki Yamamoto (JPN) won the Emperor's Cup over Ryusei Fujita (JPN) with Nozomi Oishi (JPN) and Yuji Fukui (JPN) taking bronze. #13 Andrey Bestaev (RUS) won the Yumshanova Tournament over Nikita Khabarov (RUS) with David Kabisov (RUS) taking bronze.
A new year and Russia's hierarchy is still in a constant state of upheaval since Russian Nationals last June. For December, these shake-ups are tied primarily to two events, the Russia Cup and the Absolute Championships of Russia in Memory of Dzgoev. The Russia Cup is a duel meet tournament between the individual republics within Russia while the Absolute Championships of Russia is an annual tournament that sees wrestlers at the 125 and 97 KG weight categories wrestle through their own individual tournaments and then meet in an "absolute final".
The most important athletes to know for the Russia Cup and The Absolute Championships of Russia are #14 Znaur Kotsiev (RUS), #15 Abdulla Kurbanov, #16 Khasan Khubaev (RUS), #10 Erik Dzhioev (RUS), #11 Soslan Khinchagov (RUS), and #12 Vitali Goloev (RUS). At the Russia Cup, Saipudin Magomedov (RUS) beat Khinchagov in the first round of action in group a. In round one of group B, Khubaev beats Dzhioev and in round two of group B #6 Alan Khugaev (RUS) beats Dzhioev and in the third and final round of group B Khubaev beats Goloev. In the finals, Khugaev beats Magomedov and for bronze, Khubaev beats Yakub Aydaev (RUS). So far at this point, Khubaev has beaten Dzhioev and Goloev; Saipudin Magomedov has beaten Khinchagov; Khugaev has beaten Dzhioev and Magomedov.
Then after the Russia Cup, the Absolute Championships of Russia take place. In the absolute finals, #14 Znaur Kotsiev (RUS) pins 97 KG champ Batraz Gazzaev (RUS). In the 125 KG tournament, Kotsiev beat Khubaev by injury default while being up 7-0 after Khubaev had beaten Khinchagov in the semifinals.
Now that we've covered all the major players and movers from the Russia Cup and the Absolute championship of Russia, we're going to break down how they moved in the rankings. #16 Khasan Khubaev (RUS) moves up five spots in the rankings to #11. Dzhioev drops down three spots to #13 while Khinchagov and Goloev drop four spots to #15 and #16. Kurbanov moves up five spots to #10 due to his win over Khubaev in November at the Ali Aliyev. Finishing off the upward mobility is Kotsiev who moved up five spots to #9 for his win over Khubaev and Batraz Gazzaev at the Absolute Championships of Russia along with his runner-up finish at the Poddubny in October to Khinchagov, where he beat #11 Khubaev and Anzor Khizriev. Magomedov is back in the rankings at #14 for beating Khinchagov.
Pound for Pound
#11 Ali Savadkouhi (IRI) moved up four spots to #7 in the rankings after a win at the World Cup over #7 Jordan Burroughs (USA). Savadkouhi has now registered pound-for-pound wins over #3 Zaurbek Sidakov (RUS), Burroughs, and #14 Magomedkhabib Kadimagomedov (BLR). #15 Kyle Snyder (USA) won a pound-for-pound match over #19 Kamran Ghasempour (IRI), in a match between 2022 world champions. 2020 65 KG Olympic champion Takuto Otoguro (JPN) returns to the pound-for-pound rankings at #23 after winning the Emperor's Cup. His best wins are over #24 Ismail Musukaev (HUN), #25 Haji Aliyev (AZE), and #17 Abasgadzhi Magomedov (RUS) at the Cadet level.