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International Wrestling

2019 Yasar Dogu Preview and Predictions

Burroughs_Chamizo

photo courtesy of Sandy Slater

This week marks the final ranking series tournament of the year for men’s freestyle with the Yasar Dogu. Almost 300 of the top wrestlers in the world are expected to make the trek to Istanbul, Turkey, July 11-14th, in an attempt to add to their point totals in the UWW standings. The top four wrestlers at each weight class will be seeded at the World Championships, while the rest will be drawn in, so the fallout from this tournament could be huge. The United States will be sending most of their world team, save for Daton Fix at 57 kgs, and at every weight, there are at least a few medal contenders that they will have to deal with. Here are the top contenders at all ten men’s freestyle weights, along with a final prediction for each class.

57 kg

Top Contenders

Giorgi Edisherashvili (Azerbaijan)

Three-time European Champion, 2018 World Seventh-Place, Two-time Yasar Dogu bronze medalist

Mikyay Salim Naim (Bulgaria)

2017 U23 World silver medalist

Georgi Vangelov (Bulgaria)

2019 European Games fifth-place, 2019 European Championship fifth-place, 2019 Dan Kolov bronze medalist, 2011 Junior World silver medalist

Kumar Ravi (India)

2019 Asian Championship fifth-place, 2018 U23 World silver medalist, 2015 Junior World silver medalist

Suleyman Atli (Turkey)

2019 European Games bronze medalist, 2019 European Champion, 2019 Dan Kolov silver medalist, 2018 World bronze medalist, 2017 U23 World bronze medalist, Two-time Yasar Dogu gold medalist, 2013 Junior World Champion

This is the only weight class without an American entry. The heavy favorite is the top-ranked Suleyman Atli, who is seeking his third title at this event. Alti is currently atop the UWW world rankings at 57 kg after winning the European Championships earlier this year. His two biggest threats could come from #8 Georgi Vangelov and #14 Giorgi Edisherashvili. Two additional opponents that are in the latest rankings are #9 Givi Davidovi (Italy) and #16 Abdelhak Kherbache (Algeria). 

Final Prediction: Atli over Edisherashvili

61 kg

Mirjalal Hasan Zada (Azerbaijan)

2018 European Championship bronze medalist, 2018 Yasar Dogu bronze medalist, 2014 Junior World silver medalist 

Asgar Mammadaliev (Azerbaijan)

2019 European U23 bronze medalist

Rahul Aware (India)

2019 Asian Championship bronze medalist, 2019 City of Sassari bronze medalist, 2009 Junior World silver medalist

Sandeep Tomar (India)

2019 Dan Kolov silver medalist, 2018 Yasar Dogu silver medalist, 2016 Asian Champion

Behnam Ehsanpoor (Iran)

Two-time Asian Champion, 2012 Junior World champion

Selahattin Sert (Turkey)

2019 European U23 bronze medalist

Recep Topal (Turkey)

Two-time European Championship bronze medalist, 2016 Yasar Dogu bronze medalist

Tyler Graff (USA)

The field at 61 kg has plenty of experienced, credentialed challengers, yet no one that stands head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. It should be a great indicator of exactly where Tyler Graff stands heading into Kazakhstan. The highest ranked competitor in the field is Rahul Aware, who currently sits sixth in the world rankings. He does have a loss this year to #10 Behnam Eshanpoor at the Asian Championships. Aware’s countryman, Sandeep Tomar, most recently was a finalist at Dan Kolov and typically bounces in between 57 and 61 kg. Unless Graff can crash the party, I would expect one of the Indian contingents to meet Ehsanpoor for the title.

Final Prediction: Ehsanpoor over Tomar

65 kg

Ali Rahimzade (Azerbaijan)

2018 U23 World silver medalist, 2018 Yasar Dogu silver medalist

Ismail Musukaev (Hungary)

2015 Ivan Yarygin silver medalist, 2013 Junior World silver medalist

Sonba Gongane (India)

2019 City of Sassari Champion, 2019 Asian U23 silver medalist

Cengizhan Erdogan (Turkey)

2017 World Fifth-Place, Three-time European Champion, 2013 Ivan Yarygin Champion

Selahattin Kilicsallayan (Turkey)

2019 European Championship silver medalist, 2018 European Championship bronze medalist, 2017 Yasar Dogu bronze medalist

Zain Retherford (USA)

Yianni Diakomihalis (USA)

It’s still interesting that Zain Retherford and Yianni Diakomihalis are both entered in this weight class, seeing as no other weight features more than one American. Of course, with the appeal of Zain’s Final X Rutgers win still in limbo, it is wise to have both of them in action. The host country, Turkey, has a pair of entrants that both are capable of coming away with a title. Kilicsallayan’s silver medal at the European Championships has boosted him into a #4 ranking worldwide. Sonba Gongane’s win at the City of Sassari Tournament has vaulted him the top-20 at 61 kg. Also, don’t forget about the Azeri, Ali Rahimzade, who was a finalist at this tournament in 2018. Hopefully, Yianni and Zain are not on the same side of the bracket and get to hit some of the international competition; however, don’t count on it. 

Final Prediction: Retherford over Kilicsallayan

70 kg

Murtazali Muslimov (Azerbaijan)

2018 European Championship bronze medalist

Aghahuseyn Mustafayev (Azerbaijan)

2019 European Championship silver medalist

Adam Batirov (Bahrain)

2018 World silver medalist, 2016 Asian Champion, Two-time European silver medalist

Bajrang Punia (India)

Two-time Asian Champion, 2019 Dan Kolov Champion, 2018 World silver medalist, 2018 Asian Games gold medalist, 2017 U23 World silver medalist

Meisam Nasiri (Iran)

2017 Asian Championship bronze medalist, 2016 Asian Champion, 2012 Yasar Dogu bronze medalist

Mustafa Kaya (Turkey)

2019 European Champion, Three-time Yasar Dogu Champion, Two-time World fifth-place, 2012 Junior World bronze medalist

James Green (USA)

Originally, Bajrang Punia the top-ranked 65 kg wrestler in the world, had entered at his normal weight, yet it appears as if he’ll compete at 70 kg this week. Punia, the returning world silver medalist at 65 kg, has already had an excellent 2019, winning the Dan Kolov, the Asian Championships and the Ali Aliev. He’s not the only returning world finalist in this bracket. Adam Batirov also ranked #2 at 70 kg, is here, as well. Of course, we also have James Green, a 2017 World silver medalist. James is looking to rebound after a 13th place showing at the World Championships in 2018 and he has already avenged his US Open loss to Ryan Deakin with a dominant performance at Final X. Also, a factor in this weight is Mustafa Kaya, who is seeking to with the Dogu for the fourth time. 

Final Prediction: Punia over Batirov

74 kg

Toghrul Asgarov (Azerbaijan)

2016 Olympic silver medalist, 2015 World fifth-place, 2015 European Games gold medalist, 2012 Olympic gold medalist, 2012 European Champion

Khadzhimurad Gadzhiyev (Azerbaijan)

2019 European Games bronze medalist, 2019 European Championship fifth-place

Mohammed Nokhodilarimi (Iran)

2019 Asian Championship bronze medalist

Moustafa Hosseinkhani (Iran)

Two-time Asian Champion, 2016 World bronze medalist

Frank Chamizo (Italy)

2019 City of Sassari Champion, Three-time European Champion, Two-time World Champion, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, 2010 World bronze medalist

Taimuraz Salkazanov (Slovakia)

2018 U23 World Champion

Yakup Gor (Turkey)

2019 Dan Kolov bronze medalist, 2019 Ivan Yarygin silver medalist, 2015 World bronze medalist, 2013 European Championship silver medalist, 2012 Yasar Dogu silver medalist

Jordan Burroughs (USA)

What a weight class at 74 kg! This one may have the most legitimate contenders of any of the ten weights. We have to start with Jordan Burroughs and Frank Chamizo. The pair met last year in the finals of this tournament and it was Chamizo who prevailed 10-10 on the strength of a questionable call. Of course, Burroughs went on to avenge the loss in the bronze medal match at the 2018 World Championships. Could we see another chapter in their rivalry? Not to be overlooked is the 2016 Olympic Champion Toghrul Asgarov. We saw Asgarov fall to Jordan Oliver last year at the Beat the Streets New York event. Yakup Gor and Moustafa Hosseinkhani are also a pair of former world medalist that could ruin a potential Burroughs/Chamizo matchup, if they are not careful.

Final Prediction: Burroughs over Chamizo

79 kg

Abubakr Abakarov (Azerbaijan)

2019 European Junior Champion, 2018 Junior World silver medalist, 2018 World eighth-place

Aleksandr Gostiyev (Azerbaijan)

Three-time European silver medalist, Three-time Yasar Dogu Champion, 2017 World fifth-place

Jabrayil Hasanov (Azerbaijan)

Three-time European Champion, 2018 World silver medalist, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, Two-time World silver medalist

Parveen Rana (India)

2019 Asian Championship silver medalist

Bahman Teymouri (Iran)

2019 Asian Championship gold medalist, 2017 Asian Championship bronze medalist

Akhsarbek Gulaev (Slovakia)

Two-time European U23 silver medalist, 2017 U23 World silver medalist

Ramazan Sari (Turkey)

2019 European U23 silver medalist, 2018 European Junior Champion

Muhammet Kotanoglu (Turkey)

2019 European Championship bronze medalist, 2016 European U23 Champion

Alex Dieringer (USA)

With Kyle Dake getting a tune-up at the Grand Prix of Spain the United State is without their returning world champion, also a winner at this tournament in 2018. No worries says Alex Dieringer who has looked as good as ever in 2018. Before his two crushing wins over Zahid Valencia at the World Team Trials, Dieringer has also won the Dan Kolov and took third at the Ivan Yarygin in 2019. Those wins have helped Alex move into the top ten of the world rankings (#10). Some of the opponents that Dieringer has to worry about include the trio from Azerbaijan, Abakarov, Gostiyev, and Hasanov. Both Abakarov and Hasanov lost in the 2018 World Finals to an American, Hasanov to Dake, and Abakarov to Mekhi Lewis in the Junior Finals. Gostiyev has competed primarily at 86 kg’s, of late, but is expected to enter at 79. Both 2019 Asian finalists, Teymouri and Rana, are dangerous and are capable of a finals run. 

Final Prediction:

Dieringer over Hasanov

86 kg

Shamil Zubairov (Azerbaijan)

2019 European U23 bronze medalist, 2018 U23 World champion, 2018 European U23 Champion

Taimuraz Friev (Spain)

2018 World bronze medalist, 2018 Dan Kolov silver medalist

Patrik Szurovszki (Hungary)

2018 Junior World bronze medalist

Deepak Punia (India)

2019 Asian Championship bronze medalist, 2019 City of Sassari bronze medalist, 2018 Junior World silver medalist, Two-time Asian Junior Champion

Hassan Yazdani (Iran)

2019 Dan Kolov Champion, 2018 World bronze medalist, 2017 World Champion, 2016 Olympic Champion, 2014 Junior World Champion

Boris Makoev (Slovakia)

2019 Dan Kolov bronze medalist, 2018 Yasar Dogu bronze medalist, 2017 World silver medalist

Selim Yasar (Turkey)

Two-time Yasar Dogu silver medalist, 2016 Olympic silver medalist, 2015 World silver medalist, 2014 World bronze medalist

Fatih Erdin (Turkey)

2019 European Championship bronze medalist, Two-time Ivan Yarygin silver medalist, 2018 World silver medalist, Two-time Yasar Dogu bronze medalist

Patrick Downey (USA)

One of the biggest questions surrounding this tournament is how Patrick Downey will fare against international competition after revamping his training situation at the New Jersey RTC. Downey has a 2012 Junior World silver medal to his credit, but has not had much luck overseas since. He’ll undoubtedly have his hands full wherever he falls in the draw, as there are studs all over the place. Most notably, is Hassan Yazdani, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist. Yazdani in the first match at the 2018 World Championships after a furious David Taylor comeback, then needed to go through the repechage to earn a bronze. Taylor’s World Finals opponent Fatih Erdin is also imposing. A second Turk at this weight, Selim Yasar, defeated J’Den Cox in the 2016 Olympic semi’s and came away with a silver. Yet, another former world finalist at this weight is Boris Makoev, though he has not returned to that level since 2017. Shamil Zubairov is young and talented but maybe step below the rest of this weight. Taimuraz Friev has always been in the mix of a possible world medal, but finally broke through in 2018 when he captured a bronze in Budapest. 

Final Prediction: Yazdani over Erdin

92 kg

Sharif Sharifov (Azerbaijan)

2019 European Champion, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, 2012 Olympic gold medalist, 2012 Yasar Dogu silver medalist, 2011 World Champion, 2009 World bronze medalist

Viky Viky (India)

2019 Asian Championship silver medalist

Alireza Karimimachiani (Iran)

2019 City of Sassari Champion, Three-time Asian Champion, Two-time World bronze medalist, 2018 Yasar Dogu silver medalist

Ibrahim Bolukbasi (Turkey)

2019 European Championship fifth-place, 2019 Dan Kolov bronze medalist, Two-time Yasar Dogu bronze medalist

J’Den Cox (USA)

While this weight class is small, in terms of entrants, it contains most of the top contenders for a world title at 92 kg. #1 J’Den Cox and #2 Alireza Karimimachiani are both at this weight and have looked like they will be on another collision course at the World Championships. They met in the 2018 semi’s and Cox prevailed 5-2, before winning his first world title. Karimimachiani’s has not been seriously tested this year when he has earned gold at the City of Sassari and the Asian Championships. They’ll both have to contend with the veteran Sharif Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist. Sharifov has been on the Senior level for over a decade but has shown little signs of slowing down, as he has won a European title this year. Both Viky and Bolukbasi are currently ranked in the top ten of the world rankings and will challenge for places on the podium. 

97 kg

Aslanbek Alborov (Azerbaijan)

2018 World seventh-place, Two-time Yasar Dogu champion, 2017 World bronze medalist, 2009 Junior World silver medalist

Pavlo Oliinyk (Hungary)

2018 World fifth-place, Two-time World bronze medalist, 2013 European Champion

Reza Yazdani (Iran)

Two-time World Champion, Two-time World silver medalist, Three-time Asian Champion

Abraham Conyedo Ruano (Italy)

2019 City of Sassari bronze medal, 2018 World bronze medalist

Magomed Musaev (Kyrgyzstan)

2012 Asian Champion, Three-time Asian silver medalist, Two-time Olympian

Ibrahim Ciftci (Turkey)

2019 European U23 Champion, 2017 Junior World bronze medalist

Baki Sahin (Turkey)

2019 Ivan Yarygin bronze medalist

Fatih Yasarli (Turkey)

2016 Yasar Dogu Champion, Two-time Junior World bronze medalist 

Kyle Snyder (USA)

Like two of the other Olympic weights, 74 and 86, this weight class is filled with hammers. We have to feel good about having the biggest hammer of the group in Kyle Snyder. The three-time World/Olympic Champion, Snyder is still looking for his first title at the Dogu, after taking third here in 2018. Last year he was defeated by Aslanbek Alborov, who is attempting to win this tournament for the third time in his career. Aside from Snyder, the most recognizable name is Reza Yazdani. The great Yazdani is truthfully a little past his prime after dealing with a variety of injuries the past few years; however, he did win another Asian Championship this year. No strangers to Snyder are Pavlo Oliinyk and Abraham Conyedo Ruano (Italy). Kyle beat both of them last year on his way to the World Finals. Both Oliinyk and Conyedo Ruano have World bronze medals to their credit. 

Final Prediction: Snyder over Alborov

125 kg

Daniel Ligeti (Hungary) 

2019 City of Sassari silver medalist, Two-time Dan Kolov bronze medalist, 2012 European Championship silver medalist, Two-time European bronze medalist, Two-time Olympian

Sumit Sumit (India)

2019 Asian Championship bronze medalist, 2018 World fifth-place, 2017 Asian Championship silver medalist

Taha Akgul (Turkey)

Six-time European Champion, Two-time World Champion, 2016 Olympic Champion, 2017 World silver medalist, Five-time Yasar Dogu Champion

Nick Gwiazdowski (USA)

There are not as many elite heavyweights in the field compared to the rest of the weight classes, so this should amount to a two-horse race between Taha Akgul and Nick Gwiazdowski. Akgul has been among the best, if not the best, big man over the last five years. His leg lace series is among the best in the world, regardless of weight. While Akgul has shown moments of vulnerability over the past two years, Gwiz has continued to improve and owns a world bronze medal from each of the last two years. The Indian heavyweight Sumit is the same opponent that Gwiazdowski defeated for the bronze medal at both the 2018 World Championships and Yasar Dogu. 

Final Prediction: Akgul over Gwiazdowski

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