Freestyle Rankings: Sadulaev and Petriashvili Cement Top-Seed for Olympic Games
Monday, March 30, 2020 - 12:41 By Eric Olanowski
CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (March 31) – Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) and Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) capped off their uninterrupted runs to the top seed at the Olympic Games with title-winning efforts at the World and European Championships. The pair of superstars amassed staggering leads over their closest competitors and officially locked up the No. 1 seed at the Olympic Games in their respective weight classes.
The two lead a group of five European wrestlers who have ownership of the top spot in the latest point-based rankings. Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) is the lone non-European wrestler to grace the top spot in the six Olympic weight classes, at 86kg.
Meanwhile, in the four non-Olympic weight categories, reigning world champions Beka LOMTADZE (GEO), David BAEV (RUS), Kyle DAKE (USA) and J’den COX (USA) occupy the top stop in the world rankings.
Uguev and Atli Lock up #Tokyo2021 Top-Four Seed at 57kg, Separated by Two Points
As in years past, the 57kg weight class is one of the most dynamic and competitive in all of wrestling. Current world champion and No. 1 ranked Zaur UGUEV (RUS) leads a pack of six hungry wrestlers jockeying for a top-four seed.
World runner-up Suleyman ATLI (TUR) is firmly in the No.2 position after runner-up finishes at the World and European Championships.
Uguev and Atli, who went toe-to-toe for world gold in Nur-Sultan, are separated by two points heading into the final Ranking Series event of the year.
Uguev compiled a 9-0 record in world championship action over the last two seasons en route to striking gold in back-to-back years. Uguev, on the back of his podium-topping finish in Nur-Sultan, controlled a comfortable 20-point lead over Atli heading into the 2020 season. But the Russian’s lead dwindled after he sat out of the European Championships, where Atli finished with an 18-point silver medal.
Now, Atli tails Uguev by two points -- which means the Turkish wrestler has to finish three points ahead of Uguev to clear criteria (highest world championship finish) and earn the No. 1 seed at the Olympic Games at 57kg.
Stevan MICIC (SRB), Kumar RAVI (IND) and Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ) also have a shot at locking up a top-four seed at the Olympic Games.
Despite being in striking distance of a top-four seed, sixth-ranked Yuki TAKAHASHI (JPN) fell to Rei HIGUCHI (JPN) in their Olympic wrestle-off and won't compete at the Olympics.
Micic, Serbia’s first-ever freestyle Olympian, is third with 48 points and trails Uguev and Atli by 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Serbian can seal up his spot as a top-four seeded wrestler with a nine-point finish at the final Ranking Series event. But, he still has a plausible shot at becoming the top seed if he wins the last Ranking Series event without Uguev and Atli in the bracket.
Fourth-ranked Ravi needs a 12-point finish at the final Ranking Series event to secure one of the top-four seeds at 57kg. Although it’s highly unlikely, there still a slim shot that the Indian wrestler can grab the No. 1 seed. He’d need Uguev, Atli and Micic to sit out of the final Ranking Series event and win gold in a bracket with more than 11 wrestlers to earn the 16 points he needs to clear his top-three foes.
Nurislam Sanayev is ranked fifth at the weight and tails Ravi by six points. The Kazakh wrestler’s choice to compete at 61kg and not 57kg at the Matteo Pellicone could prove to be one of the costliest decisions of his career. Sanayev would be ranked third at 57kg if he finished in at least fifth place at the first Ranking Series tournament. But, instead of sitting comfortably in the third spot of the latest ranking, Sanayev is playing catch up with a pack of wrestlers who have ambitions of locking up their place in the top-four of the 57kg rankings.
Top-10 at 57kg
1. Zaur UGUEV (RUS) - 60
2. Suleyman ATLI (TUR) - 58
3. Stevan MICIC (SRB) - 48
4. Kumar RAVI (IND) - 45
5. Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ) - 39
6. Yuki TAKAHASHI (JPN) - 28
--- Out of top-four contention ---
7. Oscar TIGREROS (COL) - 22
8. Reza ATRINAGHARCHI (IRI) - 20
9. Azamat TUSKAEV (RUS) - 20
10. Bekhbayar ERDENEBAT (MGL) – 18
Four Points Separate Rashidov, Bajrang and Kaisanov For Top Seed at 65kg
In a weight where European wrestlers have claimed three of the last four 65kg (66kg) Olympic titles, defending world champion Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS) reigns over a pair of Asian wrestlers who are in hot pursuit of the weight’s top billing.
Rashidov is tangled atop the world rankings at 65kg with Bajrang PUNIA (IND) and Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (KAZ), while a quartet of wrestlers outside the top-four can still capture an Olympic seed.
Rashidov, Punia and Niyazbekov are separated by four points heading into the last Ranking Series event. But the Russian and Indian wrestlers built such commanding leads over the field that they could sit out of the final Ranking Series event and still earn a top-four seed at the Olympic Games.
Rashidov owns the world’s top-ranking at 65kg after finally claiming his long-awaited world gold in Nur-Sultan last season.
This season, Rashidov, who started the year with 60 points, sat out of both point-based competitions (the European Championships and the Matteo Pellicone) and owns a narrow one-point lead over of Punia.
Punia began the year ranked No.3 with 25 points after his world bronze-medal finish. Since Nur-Sultan, he overthrew world finalist Niyazbekov for the No.2 ranking. Punia added 16 points to his world championship total after he erased a three-point deficit against Jordan OLIVER (USA) to win the 16-point Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series gold medal. Although he stumbled in the Asian finals against 2018 world champion Takuto OTOGURO (JPN), Punia collected 18 points and pushed himself to within one point of the Russian defending world champion.
Niyazbekov, who fell to Rashidov in last year’s world finals, is ranked third at 65kg. The Kazakh wrestler has 56 points and trails the Russian by four points.
Niyazbekov started the year with 40 points, then tacked on 16 points in New Delhi after finishing in third place. He lost his Asian championship quarterfinals match to Otoguro but fought back to finish the continental championships with a 16-point bronze medal.
Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN) is ranked fourth in the latest rankings with 41 points. He finished the World and European Championships in third and fifth place, respectively. The Hungarian Olympian has a slim one-point lead over Asian champion Otoguro heading into the final Ranking Series event.
Pack of Four Chasing a Top-four Seed
Otoguro, Haji ALI (BRN), Erik ARUSHANIAN (UKR) and Selahattin KILICSALLAYAN (TUR) are the quartet of wrestlers at 65kg who are still within 18 points of fourth-ranked Muszukajev.
Otoguro, a 2018 world champion, has 40 Ranking Series points and sits one point behind Muszukajev for the fourth spot. He rose two spots to No. 5 with a pair of top-five wins at the Asian Championships. Otoguro defeated Niyazbekov in the quarterfinals, then scored an impressive 10-2 win over Bajrang and earned the 20-point gold medal.
Ali finished in seventh-place at the World Championships and started the season with 18 points and is 14 points away from earning a top-four seed at the Olympics. He lost to Niyazbekov in the opening round of the Asian Championships and dropped to seventh place. His 10-point continental finish brought his point total to 28 points, which is good enough for a No. 6 ranking at 65kg.
Ukrainian youngster Erik Arushanian finished top-five at the Matteo Pellicone and European Championships and is ranked seventh with 28 points. He needs 14 points to surpass Muszukajev for the fourth-ranking.
Selahattin Kilicsallayan started the year ranked fifth in the world and sat in prime position to earn a seed at the Olympic Games. But he slipped from fifth to eighth in the rankings after failing to place in the top eight at the European Championships. Kilicsallayan fell to Muszukajev, 8-1, and finished in 18th place.
Top-10 at 65kg
1. Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS) - 60
2. Bajrang BAJRANG (IND) - 59
3. Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (KAZ) - 56
4. Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN) - 41
5. Takuto OTOGURO (JPN) - 40
6. Haji Mohamad ALI (BRN)- 28
7. Erik ARUSHANIAN (URK) - 28
8. Selahattin KILICSALLAYAN (TUR) - 24
--- Out of top-four contention ---
9. Kurban SHIRAEV (RUS) - 22
10. TUMUR-OCHIR Tulga (MGL) – 20
Chamizo Overtakes Sidakov for Top Ranking at 74kg
Over the last 25 years, Russia and America have had a stronghold on the 74kg weight class --winning a combined 22/25 world or Olympic titles. But that could all change come Tokyo if Italy’s Frank CHAMIZO can improve his Rio Olympic bronze medal to a 2021 Olympic gold.
Chamizo overthrew Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) for the No. 1 spot in the latest rankings and is neck and neck with the Russian heading into the final ranking Series event. The Italian won his fourth continental title in his last five tries -- thrusting himself two points ahead of Sidakov.
Chamizo entered the European Championships ranked No. 2 in the world. He trailed the Russian reigning two-time world champion by 20 points. He grabbed the 22-point gold medal and is the new top-ranked wrestler in the world at 74kg.
He’s been extremely vocal in his quest to lock up the No. 1 seed at the Olympic Games. Immediately after winning gold at the European Championships, Chazmio said, “I’m wrestling in Poland. It’s a Ranking Series tournament and I want to come into (the Olympic Games) ranked No. 1.”
Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) entered the year ranked fifth after he finished the World Championships with a bronze medal. Since then, he leaped two spots into the third position. Kaisanov has a comfortable 14-point lead over fourth-ranked Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) and only needs five points to clear criteria over the American secure his spot as a top-four seeded wrestler in Tokyo.
London Olympic champion Burroughs has been in and out of the top-four at 74kg – but for now, he finds himself sitting in the fourth spot. The four-time world champion sat out of the Matteo Pellicone and dropped two places to sixth heading into the Pan-American Championships. He claimed gold in Ottawa and leaped back into the top-four. Burroughs has 43 points and lays 11 points ahead of the three guys who can steal the fourth seed from him.
Murad KURAMAGOMEDOV (HUN), Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR) and Franklin GOMEZ MATOS (PUR) are the trio of wrestlers who are within 18 points of Burroughs.
Kuramagomedov placed top-ten at the World Championships, Matteo Pellicone and the European Championships and is ranked fifth at 74kg with 32 Ranking Series points. Most recently, he fell to Chamizo and Demirtas at the European Championships and ended the tournament in fifth place.
Demirtas rebounded after a disappointing 12-place finish in Nur-Sultan and medaled at the European Championships and Matteo Pellicone. He’s tied with Kuramagomedov with 32 points. Although he defeated the Hungarian in the bronze-medal bout, he still trails on criteria because of his lower finish at the World Championships.
Gomez, who just became a three-time Olympian after a silver medal finish at the Pan-American OG Qualifier, is the last wrestler who can catch Burroughs for the fourth seed. Gomez lost to Burroughs in the finals of the Pan-American Championships after dropping his bronze-medal bout at the Matteo Pellicone.
Top-Ten at 74kg
1. Frank CHAMIZO MARQUEZ (ITA) - 62
2. Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) - 60
3. Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) - 57
4. Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) - 43
5. Murad KURAMAGOMEDOV (HUN) - 32
6. Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR) - 32
7. Franklin GOMEZ MATOS (PUR) - 26
--- Out of top-four contention ---
8. Mao OKUI (JPN) - 20
9. Ogbonna JOHN (NGR) - 20
10. Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS) -20
Naifonov and Amine Moves into Top-Four Seed After Battling for Euro Gold
Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) and Myles AMINE (SMR) moved into the top-four of the world rankings after battling for the 86kg gold medal at the European Championships, while the top-two at the weight remained the same.
Top-ranked Hassan Yazdani underwent knee surgery earlier this year and had no choice but to skip the Matteo Pellicone and Asian Championships. He commanded a 20-point lead over his world finals opponent Deepak PUNIA (IND), but the Indian wrestler closed that gap on Yazdani with a 14-point Asian championship bronze-medal finish.
Punia leads Naifonov by seven points after the conclusion of the continental championship season.
Naifonov stopped Amine from becoming the first athlete from San Marino to ever win a European title with a 4-0 shutout win in the 86kg finals. The Russian collected 22 points from his continental gold and is five points away from locking up a top-four seed.
Amine, a fifth-place finisher in Nur-Sultan, rounds out the top four at 86kg with 40 points. He has a slight six-point lead over Carlos IZQUIERDO MENDEZ (COL).
Four Wrestlers Still in Contention
Fifth-ranked Izquierdo sits in front of a quartet of wrestlers who have the potential to steal the fourth seed from Amine. The Colombian placed fifth at the World and Pan-American Championships and has 34 points.
Alexander DIERINGER (USA) placed top-three at the Matteo Pellicone and Pan-American Championships and jumped fellow American James DOWNEY III (USA) in the latest rankings. “Ringer” lept from 11th to sixth after he won the bronze medal at the continental championships.
Switzerland’s first-ever freestyle world medalist Stefan REICHMUTH (SUI) slipped from fifth to eighth in the latest rankings. He fell to a disappointing 20th-place finish at the European Championships and missed out on earning Ranking Series points. Reichmuth enters the final Ranking Series event 15 points behind Amine for the fourth seed.
Top-Ten at 86kg
1. Hassan aliazam YAZDANICHARATI (IRI) - 60
2. Deepak PUNIA (IND) - 54
3. Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) - 47
4. Myles Nazem AMINE (SMR) - 40
5. Carlos arturo IZQUIERDO MENDEZ (COL) - 34
6. Alexander David DIERINGER (USA) - 30
7. James Patrick DOWNEY III (USA) - 26
8. Stefan REICHMUTH (SUI) - 25
--- Out of top-four contention ---
9. Yurieski TORREBLANCA QUERALTA (CUB) - 20
10. Khaled Masoud Ismail ELMOATAMADAWI (EGY) - 20
Sadulaev Locks up 97kg Top Seed for Olympic Games
In a weight that could feature as many as four Olympic champions come Tokyo, there’s one Olympic champion that stands above all -- Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS). “The Russian Tank” amassed a 27-point lead over second-ranked Kyle SNYDER (USA) after he won his fifth European title. With only 18 points left on the table, Sadulaev officially locked up the No. 1 seed at 97kg at the Olympic Games.
He began the year with 60 Ranking Series points after he won the 97kg world title in Nur-Sultan. He earned 20 additional points at the European Championships, where he shut out Rio Olympic bronze medalist, Albert SARITOV (ROU), 6-0, in the gold medal match.
Snyder jumped fellow Olympic champion Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE) in the latest rankings with his gold-medal win at the Pan-American Championships. He built a 17-point lead over Sharifov and needs three points to clear criteria and lock up the No. 2 seed at the Olympic Games.
Magomedgadji NUROV (MDA) rounds out the top-four at 97kg. He has a one-point lead over Alisher YERGALI (KAZ) and Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO) after the continental championships.
Top-Ten at 97kg
1. Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) - 80
2. Kyle SNYDER (USA) - 57
3. Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE) - 40
4. Magomedgadji Omardibirovich NUROV (MKD) - 37
5. Alisher YERGALI (KAZ) - 36
6. Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO) - 36
7. Magomed MUSAEV (KGZ) - 28
8. Abraham de Jesus CONYEDO RUANO (ITA) - 28
9. Mojtaba GOLEIJ (IRI) - 20
--- Out of top-four contention ---
10. Magomed Idrisovitch IBRAGIMOV (UZB) - 18
Petriashvili Cements Spot as 125kg Top Seed at the Olympic Games
The last time a wrestler not named Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) or Taha AKGUL (TUR) who won a world or Olympic title was way back to 2013. Since then, the pair of superstar heavyweights have accounted for a combined six straight world gold medals and one Olympic title.
But Akgul underwent shoulder surgery earlier this year, leaving the door wide open for Petriashvili to cement his spot as the top heavyweight in the world – and that’s precisely what the Georgian big man did.
This year, Petriashvili doubled his closest competitors Ranking Series points and will begin his quest to upgrade his 2016 Olympic bronze to a Tokyo gold atop the bracket as the No. 1 seed.
Petriashvili tallied a perfect 12-0 record in world championship competition and claimed a three-peat of world titles since winning his Rio Olympic bronze medal. He departed Nur-Sultan with a 20-point lead over his archrival Akgul, who he defeated in the finals. Petriashvili extended that lead to 40 points after he claimed continental gold in Rome. He went 4-0 at the European Championships, outscored his opponents 39-2 and added a third continental title to his resume.
Akgul, the Rio Olympic champion, was sidelined due to his shoulder injury and is in jeopardy of losing out on his No. 2 spot in the rankings. He leads Oleksandr KHOTSIANIVSKYI (UKR) by one-point heading into the finals Ranking Series event.
The Ukrainian reached the No. 3 spot with a bronze-medal finish in Nur-Sultan and a fifth-place finish at the European Championships.
Jamaladdin MAGOMEDOV (AZE) is the fourth-ranked wrestler at 125kg. He began this season ranked tenth after a seventh-place finish at the World Championships. Magomeov tacked on 20 points from a bronze-medal finish at the European Championships and is five points behind Khotsianivskyi with 34 points.
Top-Ten at 125kg
1. Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) – 80
2. Taha AKGUL (TUR) - 40
3. Oleksandr KHOTSIANIVSKYI (UKR) - 39
4. Jamaladdin MAGOMEDOV (AZE) - 34
5. Nick MATUHIN (GER) - 32
6. Yusup BATIRMURZAEV (KAZ) – 32
7. Amarveer DHESI (CAN) - 28
8. Zhiwei DENG (CHN) – 25
9. Egzon SHALA (KOS) – 20
10. Yadollah Mohammadkazem MOHEBI (IRI) – 19