Iran beats Azerbaijan to win Greco-Roman World Cup

By Vinay Siwach

BAKU, Azerbaijan (November 6) -- What a Greco-Roman World Cup that was. Iran and Azerbaijan were neck-to-neck with both winning five bouts. But the classification points gave Iran the win. Iran claims the World Cup it last won in 2016. Azerbaijan finishes second for the second time in a row.

The All-World team finishes third.


21:10: Iran wins the Greco-Roman World Cup! Aliakbar YOUSOFI (IRI) with a barrage of stepouts to beat Beka KANDELAKI (AZE) 6-3 and win the title for Iran on classification points. Kandelaki led 3-1 at the break but Yousofi broke Kandelaki and scored four stepouts in the second period along the fleeing point. Iran finishes with 21 classification points to 19 of Azerbaijan.

21:00: It all comes down to this bout. Aliakbar YOUSOFI (IRI) vs Beka KANDELAKI (AZE) at 130kg for the World Cup title. Both teams are tied for classification points with 18 each. The winner takes it all. Kandelaki begins with a turn from par terre to lead 3-0. Yousofi gets a stepout just before the break. He begins the second period with a stepout. Kandelaki's lead is cut to 3-2. A tiring Kandelaki can't stop the stepouts. He trails 5-3 with two minutes remaining. Another stepout and the win for Yousofi.

20:45: Mehdi BALIHAMZEHDEH (IRI) beats Arif NIFTULLAYEV (AZE) and Iran has cut it down to 5-4. Balihamzehdeh was trailing 2-1 but a takedown and turn to lead 5-2 and the win. The title comes down to the final bout at 130kg. A win is all that is needed.

20:33: Abolfazl CHOUBANI (IRI) the hero for Iran! He keeps Iran in the match with a 2-1 win over Murad AHMADIYEV (AZE). Azerbaijan still leads 5-3 but Iran will hope to win the final two bouts and make it 5-5 to stand a chance.

20:20: Now at 82kg, Mohammadhossein MAHMOODI (IRI) will look to bring back Iran in this. But Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE) with exposure when he was put in par terre to lead 2-1. He locked Mahmoodi's elbow to get the points. A par terre position for Huseynov in the second period. Mahmoodi is cautioned for two points but no more damage was done. Huseynov wins 5-1. Azerbaijan leads 5-2.

20:10: This is now turning out to be a difficult one for Iran. Sanan SULEYMANOV (AZE) with a controlled 7-1 win over Aref HABIBOLLAHI (IRI) at 77kg. The win has propelled Azerbaijan to a 4-2 lead. Two more wins out of four bouts will seal it for Azerbaijan.

19:50: A challenge that Iran will regret if the final result doesn't go in its favor. Mohammadreza ROSTAMI (IRI) was leading Ulvi GANIZADE (AZE) 3-3 with over a minute remaining. A challenge for negative wrestling but it was clean. Ganizade got the 4-3 lead and the win. Azerbaijan is now in the lead 3-2.

19:35: Two young stars. Two of the best at 67kg. Two wrestlers who will be dominant for a long time. Seyed SOHRABI (IRI) and Hasrat JAFAROV (AZE) on the mat now. Sohrabi gets the early call for passivity. But he doesn't get any turn from par terre. Relentless from both wrestlers. Sohrabi will go at the break leading 1-0. Sohrabi with a body lock and tries to throw Jafarov but, are you kidding me, Jafarov with a one-handed counter for four! Iran challenges the call but it is a clear four. Jafarov leads 5-1. A victory for Jafarov at 67kg over Sohrabi. The crowd is electric.

19:25: World bronze medalist Taleh MAMMADOV (AZE) now wrestling Iman Hossein Khoon MOHAMMADI (IRI) at 63kg. He is cautioned for two points for negative wrestling. 2-0 lead for Khoon Mohammadi who scores a takedown as well to lead 4-0 at the break. The second passivity against Mammadov and Khoon Mohammadi asks for standing. Mammadov is cautioned again and Khoon Mohammadi leads 7-0. A stepout to complete an 8-0 win for Iran which leads 2-1 now.

19:15: Nihat MAMMADLI (AZE) replaces an injured Murad MAMMADOV (AZE) at 60kg. He is facing Mehdi MOHSEN NEJAD (IRI). A passivity call against Mammadli but Mohsen Nejad doesn't get the turn. A stepout for Mohsen Nejad as he leads 2-0 at the break. In the second period, Mohsen Nejad gets the advantage again. This time he turns Mammadli but gets stuck on the second attempt. Mammadli with a turn as well to make it 5-4. But Mohsen Nejad hangs on for the win. It's tied 1-1.

19:05: The first match is at 55kg. Two-time world champion Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE) takes on U23 world champion Poya DAD MARZ (IRI). Azizli wins 4-1 and puts Azerbaijan in the lead.

Now it is time for the big match! Iran is taking on Azerbaijan in Baku for the World Cup. 

18:55: U23 world champion Fatih BOZKURT (TUR) beats Mantas KNYSTAUTAS (UWW) 3-1 but it doesn't matter as the All-World team wins the bronze medal via classification points. Both teams have five wins but the All-World team has 22 points to Turkiye's 19. What a performance from the All-World team.

18:40: What a win for Nikoloz KAKHELASHVILI (UWW)! He beats two-time world champion Metehan BASAR (TUR) 1-1 at 97kg. The win all but confirms the third place for the All-World team. Mantas KNYSTAUTAS (UWW) has to avoid getting pinned at 130kg.

18:30: Ali CENGIZ (TUR) ties with for Turkiye! He beats Alex KESSIDIS (UWW) 4-2 at 87kg and it has become a thriller. The All-World team was looking very close to winning this but it has turned around.

18:20: A rematch of the World Championships final coming up at 82kg between Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR) and Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UWW). The first passivity is against Akbudak and Berdimuratov scores a turn to lead 3-0. He starts the second period with a stepout. Akbudak then goes behind and scores a four before two turns make it 8-4. A point against Akbudak for being passive but that doesn't change the final result of the bout as Akbudak wins 8-5. The All-World team still leads Turkiye 4-3.

18:10: A long bout between world silver medalist Zoltan LEVAI (HUN) and Yunus BASAR (TUR) and it is the Turkiye wrestler who comes out on top 7-6. Basar first got the turn from par terre before a surprise arm throw for a 7-3 lead. Levai did score a takedown but Basar held on top a 7-6 win. Turkiye now has two wins from six bouts.

17:55: A battle between the two world bronze medalists and Selcuk CAN (TUR) looked like winning the bout after he got the turn from par terre against Andrii KULYK (UWW). But Kulyk jumped over and pinned Can for the win. The All-World team now leads 4-1.

17:40: Murat FIRAT (TUR) brings Turkiye back into this match. He beats Joni KHETSURIANI (UWW) 1-1 as the two exchanges passivity points in this 67kg bout. The All-World team still leads 3-1 but Turkiye is crawling back.

17:32: World silver medalist Leri ABULADZE (GEO) makes it 3-0 for the All-World team. He beats Ahmet UYAR (TUR) 3-1 after getting a turn in par terre.

17:20: At 60kg, Mukremin AKTAS (TUR) and Aidos SULTANGALI (UWW) going up against each other. Aktas gets the 1-0 lead for the passivity. But he fails to get any action. Sultangali goes behind and scores a throw for four. He continues the action for a gut wrench to lead 6-1 at the break. Aktas is called passive in the second period and Sultangali was happy to get the 7-1 win. A 2-0 lead for the All-World team.

17:05: The first bout of the Turkiye vs All-Star team is at 55kg between Muhammet CAKIR (TUR) and world silver medalist Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO). Early action in the bout as Tsurtsumia takes a 4-0 lead. But he tries an arm throw which Cakir defends and scores a takedown. He then goes for an arm throw and gets four to lead 6-4. A stepout makes it 7-4. Just before the break, Tsurtsumia gets a takedown on the edge. Turkiye challenges the call but loses. Cakir leads 7-7 on criteria at the break. Tsurtsumia is on the attack in the second period and scores a stepout. Cakir struggling with his conditioning now. A takedown for Tsurtsumia as he builds a 10-7 lead. No more scoring action in the bout and Tsurtsumia gives All-World team the lead.

17:00: Welcome to the medal bouts of the Greco-Roman World Cup in Baku. Turkiye will take on the All-World team for third place.


Greco-Roman World Cup: Azerbaijan vs Iran for title

By Vinay Siwach

BAKU, Azerbaijan (November 5) -- The Greco-Roman World Cup in Baku kicked off with Turkiye and Iran. A close battle ended with Iran winning and it followed that up with a win over Kyrgyzstan to book a place in the final. From Group A, Azerbaijan and All-World team clashed and ended with 5 wins each. It came down to the classification points in which Azerbaijan outplaced the All-World team 22 to 20. Turkiye and Kyrgyzstan wrestled for a spot in the 3/4th place match against the All-World team. Turkiye defeated Kyrgyzstan 7-3.

Azerbaijan will take on Iran for the World Cup title while Turkiye and All-World team will clash for third place. The action begins at 1700 hours local time in Baku.


22:25: The final bout of the day and the U23 world champion Fatih BOZKURT (TUR) pins Erlan MANATBEKOV (KGZ) at 130kg to give Turkiye a 7-3 win in the dual.

22:20: Metehan BASAR (TUR) does it for Turkiye. His win over U. DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ) is the sixth of the dual for Turkiye and it will wrestle the All-World team for the bronze.

22:05: Late drama in the 87kg bout between A. AZISBEKOV (KGZ) and Ali CENGIZ (TUR). Azisbekov was leading 1-1 on criteria when he tried to throw Cengiz. When the scramble ends, Azisbekov is leading 3-3. Turkiye challenge the call and it seems Cengiz committed a leg foul. The score is 4-1 and Azisbekov will win the bout with that score. Kyrgyzstan make it 5-3 with two more bouts left.

21:52: World champion Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR) with two big throws to claim a technical superiority 9-0 win over Kalidin ASYKEEV (KGZ). Now Turkiye needs just one win to reach the bronze medal match against the All-World team.

21:45: Akylbek TALANTBEKOV (KGZ) mounted a comeback against Yuksel SARICICEK (TUR) in the second period but he will go down 5-5 on criteria and Turkiye now leads 4-2. Two more wins for them to confirm the spot in the bronze medal bout.

21:35: Kyrgyzstan needed this win but Selcuk CAN (TUR) denies (KGZ) Adilkhan NURLANBEKOV (KGZ) at 72kg with a 5-3 win and Turkiye now leads the battle 3-2.

21:22: Murat FIRAT (TUR) delivers for Turkiye. He beats IBRAGIMOV Khalmurat (KGZ) 6-1 at 67kg and Turkiye has tied the dual 2-2 against Kyrgyzstan. 

21:10: Ahmet UYAR (TUR) pulls one back as he beats Kaly SULAIMANOV (KGZ) 5-1 at 63kg. Turkiye now has a win against two for Kyrgyzstan. 

21:00: A 2-0 lead for Kyrgyzstan now. Nurmukhammet ABDULLAEV (KGZ) beats Mukremin AKTAS (TUR) 6-1 and continues the good start for Kyrgyzstan. The two nations are fighting for a place in the bronze medal bout against the All-World team.

20:50: What a show by Taalaibek BEISHENBEK UULU (KGZ) as he rolls Ekrem OZTURK (TUR) for a four before getting a gut to make it 6-0. A takedown gives him the 8-0 win.

20:40: Now for the final match of the session. Turkiye takes on Kyrgyzstan for a place in the bronze medal match against the All-World team. We start with 55kg with Taalaibek BEISHENBEK UULU (KGZ) taking on Ekrem OZTURK (TUR).

It could have gone in the favor of the All-World team had Joni KHETSURIANI (UWW) scored a point against Hasrat JAFAROV (AZE). A case of ifs and buts but ultimately it is Azerbaijan that qualifies for the final.

20:30: Mantas KNYSTAUTAS (UWW) gets the win 5-1 over Sabah SHARIATI (AZE) but he fails to pin him. This means Azerbaijan will qualify for the final based on classification points. Both teams had five wins but Azerbaijan has 22 classification points to 20 for the All-World team.

20:15: Nikoloz KAKHELASHVILI (UWW) adds more drama to the dual. He beats Arif NIFTULLAYEV (AZE) 5-2 and now the All-World team has a chance to win this. At 130kg, Mantas KNYSTAUTAS (UWW) needs to pin Sabah SHARIATI (AZE).

20:07: Can the All-World team make a comeback? Alex KESSIDIS (UWW) beats Murad AHMADIYEV (AZE) 3-2 to make it 5-3. The All-World team needs to win the remaining two bouts by technical superiorities or via fall. 

20:00: In a rematch of the World Championships, Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UWW) wrestles Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE) at 82kg. Berdimuratov gives up the first par terre but gets out of it quickly. Berdimuratov gets the criteria lead in the second period. Huseynov manages to get a lift and throw but it is not scored. Azerbaijan challenges and the review confirms a three-point contact and two points for Huseynov. Berdimuratov gets a takedown but Huseynov challenges again a leg four by Berdimuratov. Huseynov wins 3-1. Azerbaijan now lead 5-2. 

19:42: Sanan SULEYMANOV (AZE) with an all-important win at 77kg over Zoltan LEVAI (HUN). Both traded passivities but Suleymanov got the turn. Levai tried a desperate throw at the end but Suleymanov turned that into his own attacks and scored five via suplex. 

19:30: World Championships bronze medalist Andrii KULYK (UWW) and silver medalist Ulvi GANIZADE (AZE) at 72kg now. Ganizade gets the first advantage but as he tries to lift and throw Kulyk, he is pinned to the mat by Kulyk who leads 2-1. In the second period, Kulyk gets the advantage but fails to turn. But a tiring Ganizade makes a dash for a takedown but fails to control and gives up a takedown and turn. Kulyk wins 7-1 to pull one back for the All-World team.

19:23: Azerbaijan has taken a big stride toward the final with Hasrat JAFAROV (AZE) beating Joni KHETSURIANI (UWW) 5-0 at 67kg. The win makes it 3-1 for Azerbaijan. Khetsuriani not scoring a point also hurts the All-World team's chances.

19:10: Leri ABULADZE (UWW) and Taleh MAMMADOV (AZE) now wrestling at 63kg. Abuladze gets the first point for Mammadov's passivity. But he fails to get any turn. Mammadov gets the point in the second period. He leads 1-1 on criteria. A third passivity of the bout and goes against Mammadov. Abuladze still can't take advantage. He has just over a minute to break the criteria of 1-1. Mammadov holds on for a 1-1 win.

19:00: A fall for Aidos SULTANGALI (UWW) over Murad MAMMADOV (AZE) at 60kg! A crucial win for the All-World team as the fall gives them five classification points. In case the match-up neds 5-5, it can prove to be the decider.

18:50: Just not happening for Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (UWW). He once again goes down against Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE). A passivity for Azizli and he then gets a two-point turn before a throw for four points. A gut wrench to finish the bout 9-0.

18:45: Time for Azerbaijan vs All-World. First up at 55kg is Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE) against Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (UWW).

18:42: A huge win for Aliakbar YOUSOFI (IRI). He pins Erlan MANATBEKOV (KGZ) at 130kg to complete an 8-2 rout of Kyrgyzstan.

18:35: That was a thriller. Mehdi BALIHAMZEHDEH (IRI) trailed Uzur DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ) 3-1 up until the final minute but Balihamzehdeh manages to score a takedown for a 3-3 win.

18:22: At 87kg, Abolfazl CHOUBANI (IRI) and A. AZISBEKOV (KGZ) are involved in a battle. Azisbekov gets the 1-0 lead for par terre and then exposure to make it 3-0. Kyrgyzstan challenged for a leg foul but it's clean. Choubani scores a point for passivity but Azisbekov gets a four and then a takedown to win 9-2.

18:10: The first loss for Iran in this match-up. Kalidin ASYKEEV (KGZ) gets a reverse lift for two from par terre against Mohammadhossein MAHMOODI (IRI) at 82kg. Iran challenges the decision but the referral shows it is actually four points. Asykeev wins 6-1.

18:00: Mohammad Reza MOKHTARI (IRI) with a 7-1 win over Akylbek TALANTBEKOV (KGZ) at 77kg. A four-pointer in that win as Mokhtari produced a complete rotation in that throw.

17:50: Amir ABDI (IRI) confirms the spot in the final for Iran. He beats Adilkhan NURLANBEKOV (KGZ) at 72kg and with that, Iran will try to win the title Sunday.

1737: Seyed SOHRABI (IRI) is unstoppable here in Baku. He forces the first passivity of the bout against Khalmurat IBRAGIMOV (KGZ) and then gets three turns to lead 7-0. Ibragimov caught him in the turn during the fourth turn to get two on the board and was looking for a pin but Sohrabi's head was outside the zone. Kyrgyzstan challenged that call but lose. A lock for a takedown confirms a 10-2 win for Sohrabi.

1730: Iman Khoon MOHAMMADI (IRI) and Kaly SULAIMANOV (KGZ) wrestle at 63kg. Khoon Mohamadi uses the arm drag to perfection. He scores a four-point move before adding numerous stepouts. Sulaimanov tries a desperate four but fails. Khoon Mohammadi wins 12-1

1722: Mehdi MOHSEN NEJAD (IRI) with a clean 5-0 win over Nurmukhammet ABDULLAEV (KGZ) and Iran lead 2-0. The win eases the pressure on the upcoming wrestlers as Iran needs one more win to rule out all possibilities of Turkiye or Kyrgyzstan taking its spot. 

1710: Iran is not entering its reserve team. Poya DAD MARZ (IRI) will be coming out for the 55kg bout against Taalaibek BEISHENBEK UULU (KGZ). Dad Marz is called for passivity in the first period but he defends well from par terre. Dad Marz scores a stepout to make it 1-1 at the break. Beishenbek Uulu cannot defend the gut-wrench attempts from Dad Marz in the second period and gives up four points. A caution and two points against Beishenbek Uulu before a stepout confirm a 9-1 win for the Iran wrestler.

1700: Welcome back to the evening session of the Greco-Roman World Cup. Iran and Kyrgyzstan are wrestling with the latter hoping to surprise Iran and hope to make the final.

End of an entertaining first session in which Iran managed to get the better of Turkiye. A 6-4 win has given Iran a huge advantage and has virtually put the team in the final. The second session begins at 1700 local time.

Iran faces Kyrgyzstan before Azerbaijan hosts the All-World team. The final match of the evening session will be Turkey vs Kyrgyzstan.

11:50: Osman YILDIRIM (TUR) and Aliakbar YOUSOFI (IRI) are now on the mat for their 130kg bout. Yildirim is up 1-0 for passivity and a turn makes it 3-0. But Yousofi scores three stepouts and a point against Yildirim gives the lead 4-3 to Yousofi. Yildirim, as calm as he is, scores a takedwon on the edge and reclaims the lead. A point for Yousofi for Yildirim's passivity but the Turkiye wrestler leads 5-5 on criteria and that will remain the score as Yousofi suffers a close loss.

11:40: It's simple for Turkiye -- Metehan BASAR (TUR) can't afford to lose. Mehdi BALIHAMZEHDEH (IRI) has built a 4-0 lead but Basar gets two points for caution. Basar has a minute to score two points and win this. But Balihamzehdeh keeps him at bay and wins it 4-2 and that wins confirms Iran's win in this match-up.

11:32: A couple of challenges made that 87kg bout between Ali CENGIZ (TUR) and  Hamidreza BADKAN (IRI) seem like never-ending. But for what it's worth, Cengiz wins the bout 11-2 and keeps Turkiye in the race. Cengiz reverses the par terre position and gets three exposure along with a foul from Badkan to lead 8-2 at the end of the sequence. He wins 11-2 in the second period.

11:10: World champion Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR) wins the second for Turkiye. He was trailing 3-0 at the break as Alireza MOHMADIPIANI (IRI) got the first point and the turn. But Akbudak scores a takedown to start the second period before Mohmadipiani is called for passivity. Akbudak gets two turns from there to lead 7-3. A late takedown from Mohmadipiani but Akbudak wins 7-5 at 82kg. 

10:55: World Championships bronze medalist Yunus BASAR (TUR) gets one back for Turkiye. He was trailing Mohammad Reza MOKHTARI (IRI) 2-0 at the break but Basar gets the passivity point in the second period. Mokhtari flees the hold. The referee does not call it but Turkiye challenges and it is awarded to Basar. The bout restarts in par terre from which Basar scores a stepout. A challenge from Iran which it loses. Basar wins 6-2 to get Turkiye on board.

10:45: Seluk CAN (TUR) has a huge responsibility on his shoulders. He is wrestling Mohammadreza ROSTAMI (IRI) at 72kg with the hope of turning it around for his team. But Rostami leads 2-0 at the break. Can gets on the board for Rostam's passivity in the second period. But he can't get the turn. Rostami hangs on for a 2-1 lead and the win. Iran has won 5 bouts now. One more win will seal it.

10:35: Now wrestling at 67kg, U20 and U23 world champion for Iran Seyed SOHRABI (IRI) against Murat FIRAT (TUR). Sohrabi is one of the most exciting talents out there. He begins with a spin for two. Sohrabi then hits a four to lead 6-0. Turkiye challenges the call but the points stand. Sohrabi leads 7-0 before a stepout point gives him the 8-0 win. Another bout in which Turkiye does not score a point. This may hurt them later.

10:30: With a 2-0 lead, Iran will look to close this. Iman Khoon MOHAMMADI (IRI) and Ahmet UYAR (TUR) wrestling at 63kg and it's Khoon Mohammadi who scores four stepouts inside the first two minutes. He gets a takedown to lead 6-0 before finishing the bout before the break with a gut wrench. Iran leads 3-0

10:15: Kerem KAMAL (TUR) and Mehdi MOHSEN NEJAD (IRI) at 60kg in a revenge bout. Mohsen Nejad was leading his bout against Kamal at the World Championships in Belgrade before Kamal pinned him. Here in Baku, Mohsen Nejad comes out attacking from par terre and gets the gut wrench before exposure got him two more. Kamal challenges the second call. Challenge lost. In the second period, Kamal manages to get a reverse lift for two to make it 6-3. But he also gives up two points and it's 8-3. Three stepout points for Kamal but he fails to cover the lead and goes down 8-6.

10:10: Ekrem OZTURK (TUR) and Poya DAD MARZ (IRI) is the first bout of the World Cup at 55kg. Ozturk gets the advantage with a passivity point. He fails to get a turn in the par terre. In the second period, Dad Marz gets the 1-1 criteria lead for the passivity point. He also fails to get any turn from par terre. Dad Marz will win 1-1 despite the third passivity against him. A huge win for Iran.

1000: Welcome to the first session of the Greco-Roman World Cup here at the Baku Sports Hall. We have a one-mat setup for the World Cup. Iran and Turkiye go head-to-head now.