Granma y Cerro Pelado

Cuba Women Take Six Cerro Pelado Golds

By Richard Immel

HAVANA, Cuba – The Cuban women were tenacious throughout the Granma y Cerro Pelado, winning six of the possible eight gold medals up for grabs at the Coliseo de la Ciudad Deportiva on Tuesday.

With all eight weight categories being bracketed in round-robin format, today’s session was not a traditional final, but rather the last round of matches in each weight class.

The most credentialed competitor in the field, Yudari SANCHEZ (CUB), received a medical forfeit in her final match to clinch the 68 KG gold medal. Sanchez, a junior world silver medalist and U23 world bronze medalist, finished with a perfect 4-0 record for the tournament, with none of her matches going to the full six minutes.

Six-time Pan American medalist Yakelin ESTORNELL (CUB) rebounded from a day one loss to upend undefeated Hangelen LLANES (CUB) 8-4 this afternoon. The win catapulted Estornell to the 62 kg gold medal. It is her second international medal of the young 2018 calendar year, going alongside her previously earned Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix bronze.

Returning Cerro Pelado bronze medalist Leanne MENDOZA (CUB) won a gritty 2-1 match over Yusneylys GUZMAN (CUB), a past junior Pan American champion, for the 50 KG gold. In similar fashion, last year’s Cerro Pelado silver medalist Milaimys MARIN (CUB) earned the 76 KG gold with a win 3-0 over 2017 junior Pan American champion Mabelkis CAPOTE (CUB).

Dayselis RODRIGUEZ (CUB) was a revelation this week as she took down the 59 KG field with impressive victories. Rodriguez cemented her place atop the podium with a gutsy 4-3 win over London Olympian and two-time Pan American champion Kelsey CAMPBELL (USA).

The final champion from the host nation came at 55 KG. Laura HERIN (CUB) fought tooth-and-nail with teammate Yayneli SANZ (CUB) and came out on top in a 3-1 contest. Herin and Sanz were the only two women entered at the weight class.

Rio Olympics fifth-place finisher Betzabeth Angelica ARGUELLO VILLEGAS (VEN) and 2016 Pan American bronze medalist Alejandra ROMERO (MEX) were the only non-Cuban women to win gold at the Granma y Cerro Pelado.

Arguello Villegas, a three-time Pan American bronze medalist, dominated Amanda HERNANDEZ (CUB) 11-1 for her final victory of the tournament at 53 KG.

Romero, who did not compete today, wound up deadlocked with Maria FERNANDA (CUB) and junior world silver medalist Lianna MONTERO (CUB) at 3-1 overall within the 57 KG bracket. Romero was awarded the gold based on classification criteria.

The Granma y Cerro Pelado resumes on Wednesday with the first day of men’s freestyle competition at 10 a.m. local time. Complete results and a live stream of all the action can be found at


50 KG

Gold – Leanna MENDOZA (CUB)

Silver – Yusneylys GUZMAN (CUB)

Bronze – Lisa ERSEL (GER)

53 KG

Gold – Betzabeth Angelica ARGELLO VILLEGAS (VEN)

Silver – Amanda HERNANEZ (CUB)

Bronze – Lilianet DUANE (CUB)

55 KG

Gold – Laura HERIN (CUB)

Silver – Yayneli SANZ (CUB)

57 KG

Gold – Alejandra ROMERO (MEX)

Silver – Maria FERNANDA (CUB)

Bronze – Lianna MONTERO (CUB)

59 KG

Gold – Dayselis RODRIGUEZ (CUB)

Silver – Kelsey CAMPBELL (USA)

Bronze – Rachelis CARON (CUB)

62 KG

Gold – Yakelin ESTORNELL (CUB)

Silver – Hangelen LLANES (CUB)

Bronze – Guadalupe GARCIA (MEX)

68 KG

Gold – Yudari SANCEZ (CUB)

Silver – Soleimy CORABALLO (VEN)

Bronze – Yariannys MARIN (CUB)

76 KG

Gold – Milaimys MARIN (CUB)

Silver – Susana MARTINEZ (CUB)

Bronze – Mabelkis CAPOTE (CUB)

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)