A dramatic year of freestyle wrestling action has brought us to the 2019 World Wrestling Championship, hosted by United World Wrestling in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
The Greco-Roman and Women’s Freestyle portions have already concluded, the Russian Greco and Japanese Women’s Freestyle teams, predicted to dominate, suffered numerous upsets that shook up the field.
The outstanding wrestler thus far has to be Cuba’s Ismael Borrero. A 2015 World and 2016 Olympic champion, Borrero knocked off four World champions including superstar Frank Staebler to win the “bracket of death”.
Freestyle action is set to kick off on September 19th, you can access the schedule and eventually the brackets for each weight through United World Wrestling. If you’re an American fan only concerned with US athletes, USA Wrestling will keep you updated. The action streams on TrackWrestling, it’s behind a paywall for now but United World Wrestling will post every match on YouTube after some time.
If you’re unfamiliar with the men’s freestyle field, here’s a weight-by-weight crash course, I’ll pick out athletes to follow per category.
2019 World Wrestling Championship
Men’s Freestyle Wrestlers to Watch
1) Zaur UGUEV (RUS)
The lightest weight class is unbelievably deep, but the leading contender has to be the returning World champion, Russia’s #1 Zaur Uguev.
Uguev knocked off three currently ranked wrestlers on his way to a title in #18 Reineri Ortega, 2017 World champion #10 Yuki Takahashi, and #16 Nurislam Sanayev.
In his wrestle-off to make the Russian World team, Uguev defeated #4 Aryan Tyutrin by 10-0 technical fall, leaving no doubt.
Uguev’s 2019 had highs and lows. At the Ali Aliev tournament, he won gold, taking out Giorgi Edisherashvili to avenge losses from the 2018 European Championship finals and 2017 European Championship semis.
Unfortunately Uguev could not shake his pattern of taking lumps at continental tournaments, taking bronze at the 2019 European Games after an upset loss to current #3 Makhir Amiraslanov.
Based on his output at United World Wrestling Ranking Series tournaments, Uguev is currently the two-seed, putting him on a collision course with third-seeded Yuki Takahashi once again, possibly meeting in the finals with our next wrestler.
2) Suleyman ATLI (TUR)
Ranked #2 in the world, Turkey’s Atli won bronze at last year’s World Championship, losing to #16 Sanayev and beating America’s 2017 World silver medalist Thomas Gilman.
Atli has had a strong 2019 that has seen him earn the one-seed at Worlds this year. His most noteworthy performance was at the European Championship, where he won gold after defeating #3 Amiraslanov, #19 Vangelov and #6 Muslim Sadulaev in the finals.
Atli also reached the quarterfinals of the European Games where he suffered an upset to an American representing Serbia, #13 Stevan Micic. He bounced back to win bronze, and he’ll carry that momentum into Worlds. It’s worthy of note that Atli has defeated Zaur Uguev, albeit in 2017.
3) Makhir AMIRASLANOV (AZE)
Some might see Amiraslanov as the favorite to win right now, considering he knocked off #1 Uguev in the semifinals of the 2019 European Games in a 3-2 match. Of course, this is complicated by the fact that Amiraslanov also lost to Suleyman Atli at the 2019 European Championship, 6-3.
Amiraslanov was inactive in 2018, but his 2019 performances have been outstanding. After losing to Atli, Amiraslanov knocked off #19 Vangelov for bronze, then went on to dominate the European Games.
He defeated Vangelov again in the qualification round, returning World champion and #1 Zaur Uguev in the semifinals, then extinguished a red-hot #13 Stevan Micic in the finals by a shocking 9-1 margin.
1) Magomedrasul IDRISOV (RUS)
Another weight class, another #1 ranked Russian, something international fans are more than familiar with.
Although he won the 2018 Russian Nationals, Idrisov was unable to compete at the senior level at the 2018 World Championship, Russia sent Gadzhimurad Rashidov instead, who took silver.
Idrisov, still age-eligible, competed at the U23 World Championship where he won gold, defeating #14 Nikolai Okhlopkov and #15 (57 kg) Ulukbek Zholdoshbekov.
Idrisov has had a nearly spotless 2019. He took out #14 Ohklopkov and #2 Ramazan Ferzaliev on his way to a Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix title, but was upset by #13 Recep Topal. Idrisov also took a loss at the Ali Aliev to the #3 ranked wrestler, his countryman Zelimkhan Abakarov.
However, Idrisov cemented his place at the top with wins over #3 Abakarov and #2 Ferzaliev at the 2019 Russian Nationals. In his final tournament before Worlds, Idrisov won the Ziolkowski tournament, taking out #16 Tumenbileg on the way.
Idrisov is a tremendously heavy favorite to win at 61, but we cannot count out the returning World champion, #10 Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez. Bonne has had a rough 2019, but he is no stranger to taking losses during the year. Check out this career recap of the explosive Cuban!
- Published in Sports