Granma y Cerro Pelado

Akgul Flawless In Granma y Cerro Pelado Freestyle Finals

By Richard Immel

HAVANA, Cuba – Rio Olympic champion Taha AKGUL (TUR) accented a flawless Granma y Cerro Pelado tournament with a workmanlike 11-0 victory over United States foe Ben DURBIN (USA) to claim 125 KG gold.

Akgul, a two-time champion at the World Championships, scored three takedowns and two turns for the decisive win in the final freestyle match contested  in Cuba. He finished with three wins over the two-day competition, outscoring his opponents by a combined 32-0 tally.

Turkey earned a second gold medal from Husseyin GUNDUZ (TUR) at 92 KG. Gunduz ousted 2017 Ion Corneau champion Gabriel STARK (GER) in a dramatic final, 2-1.

Host-nation Cuba accumulated four champions on Thursday, led by technical fall wins in the finals from returning world bronze medalists Yowlys BONNE RODRIGUEZ (CUB) at 61 KG and Alejandro VALDES TOBIER (CUB) at 65 KG.

Bonne Rodriguez trailed high-paced American Cody BREWER (USA) 6-0 early in the first period after giving up two initial takedowns, one feet-to-back. The Cuban star methodically went to work for 16-staight points and the gold medal.

It was a quick heat for Valdes Tobier, who synched up multiple inside trips in the early going against Robbie MATHERS (USA). After the initial flurry of action, Valdes Tobier was declared the winner, 10-0.

Other champions for Cuba were past Pan American champion Franklin MAREN (CUB) and Yurieski TORREBLANCA (CUB). Both men won tight finals contests, Maren a 1-1, criteria win over 2015 Pan American champion Jason CHAMBERLAIN (USA) and Torreblanca a 6-2 decision on 2012 junior world champion Achmed DUDAROV (GER).

A last-second challenge overturning a call on the edge of the mat gave Kubilay CAKICI (GER) a superb win over London Olympic bronze medalist Livan LOPEZ AZCUY (CUB) for the 74 KG gold. Lopez Azcuy appeared to have the match won, but a last-ditch effort saw Cakici capitalize on a takedown with under five seconds remaining.

The United States secured gold medals from Zach SANDERS (USA) at 57 KG and Hayden ZILLMER (USA) at 97 KG. Sanders turned a 1-0 second-period deficit into a 6-1 victory over Alexei ALVARES (CUB) courtesy of persistent offense. Zillmer notched a low-level takedown and two leg laces to seal the gold, 6-0, over fellow American Ty WALZ (USA).

Complete results and archived matches from the 2018 Granma y Cerro Pelado tournament can be found at


57 KG

Gold –  Zach SANDERS (USA)

Silver – Alexei ALVARES (CUB)

Bronze – Aso PALANI (CAN)

Bronze – Pedro MEJIAS (VEN)

61 KG


Silver – Cody BREWER (USA)

Bronze – Dabian QUINTANA (CUB)

Bronze – Johnni DIJULIUS (USA)  

65 KG

Gold – Alejandro VALDES TOBIER (CUB)  

Silver – Robbie MATHERS (USA)

Bronze – Brandon DIAZ (MEX)

Bronze – Anthony ABIDIN (USA)

70 KG

Gold – Franklin MAREN (CUB)

Silver – Jason CHAMBERLAIN (USA)

Bronze – Hunter STIEBER (USA)

Bronze – Kevin HENKEL (GER)

74 KG

Gold – Kubilay CAKICI (GER)

Silver – Livan LOPEZ AZCUY (CUB)

Bronze – Jean PERALTA (CHI)

Bronze – Nestor TAFUR (COL)

86 KG

Gold – Yurieski TORREBLANCA (CUB)

Silver – Achmed DUDAROV (GER)

Bronze – Martin OBST (GER)

92 KG

Gold – Husseyin GUNDUZ (TUR)

Silver – Gabriel STARK (GER)

Bronze – Don MCNEIL (USA)

97 KG

Gold – Hayden ZILLMER (USA)

Silver – Ty WALZ (USA)

Bronze – Nathan BURAK (USA)

125 KG

Gold – Taha AKGUL (TUR)

Silver – Ben DURBIN (USA)

Bronze – Yudenny ALPAJON (CUB)

Bronze – Sean MOLLE (CAN)