Makhmudov becomes first male Kyrgyz world champion

By Ken Marantz

BELGRADE, Serbia (September 11) -- A year ago, Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) came just short of becoming his country's first-ever Olympic gold medalist in any sport. On Sunday night, he never let his opponent come close to preventing him from becoming its first male world champion in wrestling.

Makhmudov emerged from a stacked Greco-Roman 77kg weight class to win the gold medal with a one-sided 8-0 technical fall over Zoltan LEVAI (HUN) on the first night of finals at the World Championships in Belgrade.

"I am very happy to get this opportunity to win the first Greco-Roman gold for the Kyrgyz people," Makhmudov said. "I dedicate this victory to my Kyrgyzstan."

The host country won two of the three other Greco-Roman golds at stake on Sunday, with Georgian-born Zurabi DATUNASHVILI (SRB) successfully defending his title at 87kg, and Iranian-born Ali ARSALAN (SRB) winning the 72kg in his first appearance at senior worlds.

European champion Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE) capped off about as dominant a tournament as a wrestler can have by storming to 55kg gold with his fourth straight technical fall without conceding a point.

Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ)Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) uses a four-point exposure to win against Zoltan LEVAI (HUN). (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

The 23-year-old Makhmudov, the silver medalist at last year's Tokyo Olympics, threw caution to the wind in scoring a pair of bold 4-point moves to blow away Levai in 2:06 of the final.

Makhmudov started with a daring back suplex with a headlock grip that put Levai straight to his back. When the Hungarian fought out of the predicament to his stomach, Makhmudov moved to the front, applied a front headlock and flipped Levai backward for the winning move.

"Yesterday I said that I wanted to show what Kyrgyz wrestling school was capable of," Makhmudov said. "I think I have shown it. I took revenge. Last time I lost to that wrestler and now I took revenge."

Makhmudov has been making waves since he won the gold at the 2018 Asian Championships hosted by Kyrgyzstan, a triumph that he repeated in April in Mongolia.

Only a knee injury that caused him to miss all of 2019 kept him from more titles.

In 2019, Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) beat him to the punch as Kyrgyzstan's first-ever world champion when she won the women's 62kg title in Nursultan. The country has had four male silver medalists, including Zholaman SHARSHENBEKOV (KGZ) twice.

For Makhmudov, there are many others who share in the credit for his success.

"I know my family supports me a lot, thanks a lot to them, my coaches and my friends," he said. "And I would like to say something else. We have a coach Ulukbek Karacholokov, his father past away recently, and I would like to dedicate my victory to him because Ulukbek is one of the best coaches and thanks to his father for bringing up such a good son."

At the Tokyo Olympics, Makhmudov lost a heartbreaking 2-1 decision in the final to Tamas LORINCZ (HUN), with a second-period stepout providing the margin of victory. Still, the silver medal made him Kyrgyzstan's fifth Olympic medalist in history and a hero in the country.

"I know my country supports me a lot," he said. "We have a wrestling country. Everybody there loves wrestling and supports it. It gives me the energy to train, I always feel their support when I am on the mat even if they are not present in the wrestling hall."

Zurabi DATUNASHVILI (SRB)Zurabi DATUNASHVILI (SRB) defended his 87kg world title. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

The Serbs in the finals could certainly hear the support of the partisan crowd in Stark Arena, particularly when Datunashvili ended the day's festivities with a thrilling 6-2 victory over Turpan BISULTANOV (DEN) in the final match of the night.

Bisultanov was looking to become his country's first-ever world champion but immediately fell into a 4-point hole when Datunashvili caught him with a nifty arm throw about one minute into the match.

"I had some tactics but I got the opportunity to get the throw and I did and I got four points," Datunashvili said.

In the second period, Bisultanov received a passivity point, but was unable to turn Datunashvili from par terre. The Serb then added a go-behind takedown to pad his lead, and was untroubled when he gave up a stepout.

"He is a young guy, he will get the gold later," Datunashvili said. "Maybe after three years he can beat me."

Datunashvili has been competing for Serbia since 2020 and appeared for the first time at the Olympics for his adopted country in Tokyo, where he took home a bronze medal. He also won the European title that year.

Ali ARSALAN (SRB)Ali ARSALAN (SRB) defeated Ulvi GANIZADE (AZE) 4-3 in the 63kg final. (Photo: Martin Gabor)

In a clash between the European bronze medalists in the 72kg final, Arsalan was trailing 4-3 when he slammed Ulvi GANIZADE (AZE) backward to the mat for 4 points, giving him a 7-4 victory and making him the fourth world champion in Serbia's young history.

Arsalan, a 2017 Asian bronze medalist for Iran, scored with a gut wrench from par terre to lead 3-0 going into the second period. But Ganizade tied the match with a passivity point and 2-point penalty, then went ahead 4-3 with a stepout.

"This is what I dreamt of and now I have changed that dream into fact," Arsalan said. "You don’t know the struggles to reach here. This is what it means to be a world champion. For all in Iran and Serbia who supported me, thank you."

Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE)Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE) blanked Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO) 8-0 in the 55kg final. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

At 55kg, Azizli maintained his domination over Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO), pummeling the 2019 world champion with an 8-0 technical fall to regain the world title he won in 2018.

Azizli, who had to settle for bronze medals in 2019 and 2021, scored an early stepout, then was put on top in par terre. That proved the beginning of the end for Tsurtsumia, also a bronze medalist last year. After a 2-point penalty, Azizli fired off two consecutive gut wrenches to end the match in 2:06.

"The Georgian wrestler is also a world champion, he was in 2019 and I was the world champion before him," Azizli said. "The match was great, thank God I won."

According to Azizli, he has now beaten Tsurtsumia nine consecutive times. Even so, he was not going to take his opponent lightly.

"This is wrestling," Azizli said. "Anything could happen. Every world championship I had a medal. But not always I was able to win."

Yusu BASAR (TUR)Yunus BASAR (TUR) won the bronze medal at 77kg. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Meanwhile, Turkey came away with three bronze medals after victories by Selcuk CAN (TUR) at 72kg, Yunus BASAR (TUR) at 77kg and Ali CENGIZ (TUR) at 87kg.

Can, a 2020 European bronze medalist, eked out a 3-3 win on last-point criteria over Ibragim MAGOMADOV (KAZ), scoring a 2-point throw in the second period. Andrii KULYK (UKR) won the other 72kg bronze with a 4-3 win over Ibrahim GHANEM (FRA).

Basar, who won a second straight European silver medal this year, held on for a 4-1 victory over former world champion Hyeonwoo KIM (KOR), a two-time Olympic medalist who was aiming for his first world medal since 2018.

European champion Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM), the 72kg champion a year ago in Oslo, capped a busy day by defeating Viktor NEMES (SRB) 7-1 to take home the other 77kg bronze.

Amoyan, who lost a close 3-3 decision to Levai in the opening qualification match on Saturday, had to win three repechage matches.

At 87kg, Cengiz scored 4 points with a front lift in the second period to defeat two-time Asian champion Naser ALIZADEH (IRI) 7-1. The other bronze was won by David LOSONCZI (HUN), a 6-2 winner over Alex KESSIDIS (SWE).

At 55kg, Asian champion Yu SHIOTANI (JPN), who had to beat 2021 world champion Ken  MATSUI (JPN) just to make the Japanese team, assured he would not leave Belgrade empty-handed when he defeated Max NOWRY (USA) 7-0. Shiotani opened with a 4-point arm throw, then added a stepout and a defensive takedown, all in the first period.

Asian bronze medalist Jasurbek ORTIKBOEV (UZB) picked up the other 55kg bronze by rallying from a 5-0 deficit, scoring a 4-point throw among nine second-period points to defeat Asian silver medalist Amangali BEKBOLATOV (KAZ), 9-5.

Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM)Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) entered the 97kg final after beating defending champion Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI). (Photo : UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Aleksanyan returns to 97kg final by dethroning Saravi

In semifinal action in four other weight classes earlier in the session, Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) earned a shot at a fourth world title and first since 2017 when he defeated reigning world champion Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI) 3-1 at 97kg.

Aleksanyan, scored a gut wrench during his turn in par terre to defeat rising star Saravi, a bronze medalist at last year's Tokyo Olympics and set up a final with European champion Kiril MILOV (BUL).

Milov spotted Arif NIFTULLAYEV (AZE) a 3-0 lead in the other semifinal but came alive in the second period when put in the par terre. First a classic gut wrench, then a 4-point throw to the back that set up a fall at 4:35.

Aleksanyan, who won a third career Olympic medal when he took the silver in Tokyo, has already assured himself of a sixth career world medal -- Milov is hoping to make it a third silver for the Armenian star.

Host Serbia had another good night, putting two of its wrestlers into the finals to match its results from the opening night. Sebastian NAD (SRB) will be going for the gold at 63kg and Mate NEMES (SRB), Viktor's twin brother, will follow at 67kg.

Nad, a 2019 European U23 silver medalist who is having a breakout tournament, scored a creative exposure from par terre in posting a 5-0 victory over European silver medalist Taleh MAMMADOV (AZE).

In Monday's final, Nad will try to ensure that Leri ABULADZE (GEO) leaves the World Championships with a silver medal for the second year in a row.

Abuladze, this year's European champion, scored a first-period stepout that proved the difference in a 2-1 win over 2019 world bronze medalist Ali Reza NEJATI (IRI).

Nemes, the other world bronze medalist in 2019, defeated a formidable Hasrat JAFAROV (AZE) 5-2 in the semifinals. After trading first-period takedowns, Nemes received a passivity point, then got 2 for a penalty to clinch the victory.

For his efforts, Nemes gets a shot at the reigning world and Olympic champion Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI), who posted an unusual technical fall over Joni KHETSURIANI (GEO).

Geraei made the unusual choice of challenging a call in which he scored the points, but it paid off by giving him even more than he expected for an 8-0 technical fall.

From the par terre, Geraei lifted up Khetsuriani and dumped him onto his back. The original call was for 4, but Geraei insisted that his coach hit the challenge button, saying his opponent should also be assessed a leg penalty. He not only got the 2-point penalty but the throw was upgraded to 5 points, giving him the victory at 2:02.

Ironically, another semifinal also ended in a technical fall on a challenge call, but that one went against the one lodging the protest.

At 82kg, Asian silver medalist Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) hit a 4-point throw to take a 7-0 lead against Tamas LEVAI (HUN), who decided to take a chance and claim that the Uzbek used his legs. The judges didn't agree and that gave Berdimuratov the 8-0 victory at 2:23, denying a second Levai brother a place in the finals.

In the final, Berdimuratov will face last year's silver medalist Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR), who hit a 4-point throw at the edge in the second period to defeat Yaroslav FILCHAKOV (UKR) 5-1.

Day 3 will see the start of competition in the final two Greco weight classes, 60kg and 130kg, as well as two women's divisions, 55kg and 62kg.


Day 2 Greco-Roman Results

55kg (18 entries)
Gold - Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE) df. Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO) by TF, 8-0, 2:06

Bronze - Yu SHIOTANI (JPN) df. Max NOWRY (USA), 7-0
Bronze - Jasurbek ORTIKBOEV (UZB) df. Amangali BEKBOLATOV (KAZ), 9-5

63kg (30 entries)
Semifinal - Sebastian NAD (SRB) df. Taleh MAMMADOV (AZE), 5-0
Semifinal - Leri ABULADZE (GEO) df. Ali Reza NEJATI (IRI), 2-1

67kg (30 entries)
Semifinal - Mate NEMES (SRB) df. Hasrat JAFAROV (AZE), 5-2
Semifinal - Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI) df. Joni KHETSURIANI (GEO) by TF, 8-0, 2:02

72kg (25 entries)
Gold - Ali ARSALAN (SRB) df. Ulvi GANIZADE (AZE), 7-4

Bronze - Andrii KULYK (UKR) df. Ibrahim GHANEM (FRA), 4-3
Bronze - Selcuk CAN (TUR) df. Ibragim MAGOMADOV (KAZ), 3-3

77kg (33 entries)
Gold - Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) df. Zoltan LEVAI (HUN) by TF, 8-0, 2:06

Bronze - Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM) df. Viktor NEMES (SRB), 7-1
Bronze - Yunus BASAR (TUR) df. Hyeonwoo KIM (KOR), 4-1

82kg (25 entries)
Semifinal - Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) df. Tamas LEVAI (HUN) by TF, 8-0, 2:23
Semifinal - Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR) df. Yaroslav FILCHAKOV (UKR), 5-1

87kg (30 entries)
Gold - Zurabi DATUNASHVILI (SRB) df. Turpan BISULTANOV (DEN), 6-2

Bronze - David LOSONCZI (HUN) df. Alex KESSIDIS (SWE), 6-2
Bronze - Ali CENGIZ (TUR) df. Naser ALIZADEH (IRI), 7-1

97kg (29 entries)
Semifinal - Kiril MILOV (BUL) df. Arif NIFTULLAYEV (AZE) by Fall, 4:35 (7-3)
Semifinal - Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) df. Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI), 3-1


Higuchi claims 61kg title in first senior world foray

By Ken Marantz

BELGRADE, Serbia (Sept. 18) -- After quixotic attempts to make Japan's team to the Tokyo Olympics at both 57kg and 65kg ultimately failed, 2016 Rio Olympic silver medalist Rei HIGUCHI (JPN) settled in at 61kg for now.

He now has his first senior world title, although it had never really mattered to him before. Higuchi put on one final, dazzling performance in sweeping past Reza ATRI (IRI) by 10-0 technical fall to win the 61kg gold as the World Championships concluded with the final three freestyle finals on Sunday in Belgrade.

"I was finally able to show my actual strength, and I'm glad I could have a solid win in the final without any incident," Higuchi said.

In other finals, Asian champion Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) signaled a possible changing of the guard at 65kg when the 20-year-old won the gold in a 21-point thriller, while Kyle SNYDER (USA) was hardly troubled in securing his third career world gold and first since 2017 at 97kg.

Higuchi, who won his first senior Asian title in April, had Atri on his heels from the get-go, working his slick tackles to perfection and transitioning well into exposure situations.

The 26-year-old Japanese opened with a double-leg takedown to a lace-lock roll. He then got 2 with a single-leg tackle, secured an inside-leg hook, and forced Atri over for two exposures to end the match at 2:42.

"Yesterday the Iranian looked very strong, so I closely watched all of the videos of him, like the Poland tournament before the Olympics and various others," Higuchi said. "I watched them all. I think analyzing him was a reason for my victory."

With Higuchi's victory, Japan finished a surprising third in the team standings with 70 points, two ahead of Mongolia and Georgia. The United States, which had clinched the team title after the morning session on Saturday, finished on top with 198 points, followed by Iran with 150.

The bulk of Japan's points came on gold-medal runs by Higuchi and Taishi NARIKUNI (JPN), the champion at 70kg on Friday. It marked the first time that Japan had two gold medalists at the same World Championships since 1979, when Yuji TAKADA (JPN) and Hideaki TOMIYAMA (JPN), the latter currently the president of the Japan federation, won in San Diego.

Such trivia doesn't really interest Higuchi. He was more excited about surpassing his coach Kenichi YUMOTO (JPN), who won Olympic silver in 2008 and world bronze in 2011.

"I don't really think about records," Higuchi said. "I have always aimed at being fundamentally sound like coach Yumoto, and I'm so happy to have been able to top him in one way. From when I was little, I studied videos of him and tried to imitate everything he did, the way he grabs arms, gets a high crotch, his single-leg tackles."

Higuchi's run to the world gold caps the roller coaster ride his career had been on since he took the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics when he was dealt a close 3-3 loss in the final by Vladimir KHINCHEGASHILI (GEO) on a late activity point that still stings for Higuchi.

His obsession with making up for that loss and winning an Olympic gold has been the driving force over the past six years, and it was only until recently that he even regarded winning a world or Asian title as worthwhile.

"The Olympics had always been the only thing that concerned me, but eventually I changed my pessimistic thinking of not entering the World Championships or not entering the Asian Championships," he said. "I've always been thinking of how I can win an Olympic gold medal, so I'm not satisfied with this victory. There are still many issues of things I need to work on and fix."

Higuchi's attempt to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics was marked by perseverance and, ultimately, disappointment.

First, he moved up to 65kg, a tough division for someone standing just 1.63 meters, where he would challenge world champion Takuto OTOGURO (JPN). He actually defeated Otoguro once and won the 2018 world U23 gold at that weight, but eventually lost out to the eventual Olympic gold medalist.

In 2019, he made the drastic decision to drop back down to 57kg, which he had not competed in since Rio. His weight had ballooned up to 68kg, and he had only a few months before the All-Japan Championships, which would determine who would go to the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament in 2020.

Limited exclusively to a vegetable diet, he made the weight, then defeated 2017 world champion Yuki TAKAHASHI (JPN) to earn the spot. But then the Olympics and the qualifying tournaments were postponed for a year, meaning he had to maintain his weight at the height of the pandemic for another year.

When the Asian qualifier was finally held in April 2021 in Almaty, the unthinkable happened. Higuchi failed to make weight.

Takahashi was dispatched to the final World Olympic qualifier, earned Japan a spot at 57kg, then defeated Higuchi in a playoff to fill it himself. At a crossroads, Higuchi looked deep into himself to determine what path he would take.

He decided he would spend this year at 61kg, enter the major tournaments that he had previously shunned, and make preparations for a run at the 2024 Paris Olympics, which he said will be at 57kg.

For the Japanese wrestlers, the qualifying path for Paris begins with the All-Japan Championships this December, the first of two domestic qualifiers for next year's World Championships.

His sojourn at 61kg was a positive experience. "Not once did I feel I was inferior to the 61kg wrestlers in terms of attacking," Higuchi said. "I was able to get in on all of my attacks. In terms of defense, I gained a lot in regard to scrambles and keeping the opponent from scoring off attacks."

Higuchi said that he was motivated on Sunday by a visit from Narikuni, who brought his championship belt back to the room and playfully flaunted it in front of Higuchi.

"He won the gold on the first day [of freestyle] and brought the belt back to the room. I hadn't even had a match yet, and he purposely showed it to me...I thought, damn him. But it fired me up, and as there were times we had practiced together since we were little. Honestly, I was happy. I went into my matches thinking that I, too, will not lose. I'm glad I wasn't beaten by Narikuni."

At 65kg, Amouzad scored seven unanswered points to prevail 13-8 in a wild encounter with first-time finalist Yianni DIAKOMIHALIS (USA), in which an opening scramble produced 14 points that were determined once the dust cleared and the video analyzed.

"Thank god I was able to win the gold medal," Amouzad said. "My opponent was very tough. I hope this gold medal will put a smile on the faces of the people of Iran."

Diakomihalis shot for a double leg and, with Amouzad reaching over to counter, the two got tangled up and rolled this way and that as the mat referee tried to keep up. In the end, they both got credit for three exposures, although one of Diakomihalis' was judged to be a 4-pointer because he took Amouzad off his feet, giving the American an 8-6 lead.

Amouzad, the 2021 world U20 champion at 61kg, decided he was better off going on the attack, and got a single-leg takedown to tie it up at the end of the first period, although he remained behind on criteria.

In the second period, Amouzad remained the aggressor, getting a stepout and two takedowns off his single to win 13-8 and give Iran its second gold medal of the championships.

For now, his victory puts Amouzad at the head of a crowded race for gold in Paris.

"The 65kg is a weight class full of extremely tough opponents," he said. "But I am feeling great that I was able to beat my opponents through training in Iran, including with former European and world champions. My goal is to defend the title next year, but the ultimate goal is to win the gold in Paris."

Snyder, not having to contend with nemesis Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RWF) in the 97kg final, was simply too powerful for Russian-born Batyrbek TSAKULOV (SVK), scoring a takedown and three stepouts in notching a 6-0 victory.

"It was good, [I'm] thankful, good opponent," Snyder said. "I haven't won since 2017, and that's a long time for me. It hurts to lose, but I'm very thankful to get on top of the podium again."

Snyder came out with a high-crotch takedown and received an activity clock point for a 3-0 first-period lead against European bronze medalist Tsakulov, who never came close to piercing Snyder's defense the entire match.

In the second period, Snyder powered ahead for three stepouts to add the world title to the ones he won in 2015 and 2017, along with a 2016 Olympic gold. He also has silver medals from 2018 and 2021 and the Tokyo Olympics -- courtesy of Sadulaev -- and a bronze medal from 2019.

"The matches are always good, opponents are good, they wrestle me hard," he said. "I've got a good team, a good coaching staff. They know what I need to focus on."

Snyder's gold was the fourth of the tournament in freestyle for the U.S., tying the 1993 and 1995 teams for the country's most ever. The team in Belgrade medaled in eight of the 10 weight classes.

Snyder's encounters with Sadulaev have been epic, perhaps none more so than his victory at the 2017 worlds as it also clinched the team title for the United States in the last match of the tournament.

"The match in 2017 was super-exciting and the team title on the line and stuff, and that's a lot of fun," he said. "But it's just cool still being able to wrestle for as long as I've been able to. To be back on top, and thankful for all the coaches and all my training partners. So many people have helped me."

While his teammates in Belgrade saved the coaches from some anxious moments with the early clinching, Snyder said he wouldn't have minded if the team race had been closer.

"It's nice having the team title locked up before I go in the finals, but honestly, I'd like to be the one that decides it," he said. "That's the most fun when everything's on you. But it's all good."

Veteran Punia rallies to 65kg bronze

Olympic bronze medalist Bajrang PUNIA (IND) captured his fourth career world medal, putting on the latest comeback of his storied career to slip past Sebastian RIVERA (PUR) with a late takedown for an 11-9 victory at 65kg.

Punia found himself in a 6-point hole right off the bat, as Rivera scored a pair of takedowns, adding an ankle roll after the second one. An inside trip for 4 by Punia and a takedown tied the score and put him ahead on criteria, but Rivera scored with a low shot with :03 left in the first period for an 8-6 lead.

Rivera, who attended Rutgers University in the U.S. and was looking to become just the second world medalist in Puerto Rican history, returned to the ankle pick that he has used to great effect to score a stepout.

But Punia, who has made a career out of rallying to victory, came back with a takedown, then scored the match-winner by going out the back door and gaining control with :31 left for a 10-9 lead. An unsuccessful challenge added the final point as Punia kept India from a podium shutout in freestyle.

"I gave away six points at the start," Punia said. "And the leg defense that I thought would work, just didn’t come off. I need to sit and analyze why it’s not working. It didn’t work in the match I lost, and it didn’t work today when I won as well."

Punia said he has been having trouble defending against leg attacks since injuring his knee at the Tokyo Olympics.

"It doesn’t eat into my confidence, because otherwise I wouldn’t have recovered points," Punia said. "I always fight till the last second because we work hard as wrestlers. I’ll have to figure out if I need more hard work or smart work on the leg defense.”

In the other match at 65kg, Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN) repeated his victory in the final at this year's European Championships over Olympic silver medalist Haji ALIYEV (AZE), scoring a takedown in each period and hanging on for a 4-2 win for his second career world bronze.

The Russian-born Muszukajev, who began competing for Hungary in 2019, scored a takedown in the first period while on the activity clock, then used an arm drag for a second one to open the second period.

The 31-year-old Aliyev, whose last trip to the medal podium came when he won a third world title in 2017, went into overdrive trying to get back in the match, but all he could manage was a penalty point and a very late stepout.

At 61kg, European champion Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) cruised to his second straight world bronze with a 12-0 technical fall over Seth GROSS (USA), who had no answer for the barrage of attacks launched by the Armenian.

Harutyunyan piled up three takedowns and three stepouts, all off tackle attempts, before putting the match away at 3:57 with an exposure.

Narankhuu NARMANDAKH (MGL) was equally dominant in taking the other 61kg bronze with a 9-0 rout of European bronze medalist Georgi VANGELOV (BUL), finishing it off with an impressive 4-point body lock to the back.

Narmandakh, a world u23 bronze medalist last year, opened the match with a takedown straight to a lace lock roll for a 4-0 lead. In the second period, the Mongolian received an activity point before slamming down Vangelov to put an exclamation point on his victory.

At 97kg, Russian-born European champion Magomedkhan MAGOMEDOV (AZE) was trailing on criteria when he secured a fall off a counter to defeat Asian champion Mohammadhossein MOHAMMADIAN (IRI) for his first senior world medal.

Mohammadian, aiming for a second world bronze, scored a 2-point exposure off a tackle attempt, after which Magomedov got a reversal. The Iranian then limped-arm out of a whizzer for a takedown to go up 4-1 at the break.

Magomedov, a 2018 world U20 champion, secured a takedown, and a lost Iranian challenge made it 4-4, although Mohammadian led on criteria. But when Mohammadian got in on a tackle, Magomedov reached back and used a chin whip and stepover to put the Iranian onto his back, securing the fall at 4:27.

Givi MATCHARASHVILI (GEO) also became a first-time senior world medalist when he won the other 97kg bronze, riding a 4-point counter lift in the second period to a 5-3 victory over European silver medalist Vladislav BAITSAEV (HUN).

Day 9 Results

61kg (24 entries)
Gold - Rei HIGUCHI (JPN) df. Reza ATRI (IRI) by TF, 10-0, 2:42

Bronze - Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) df. Seth GROSS (USA) by TF, 12-0, 3:58
Bronze - Narankhuu NARMANDAKH (MGL) df. Georgi VANGELOV (BUL), 9-0

65kg (27 entries)
Gold - Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) df. Yianni DIAKOMIHALIS (USA), 13-8

Bronze - Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN) df. Haji ALIYEV (AZE), 4-2
Bronze - Bajrang PUNIA (IND) df. Sebastian RIVERA (PUR), 11-9

97kg (23 entries)
Gold - Kyle SNYDER (USA) df. Batyrbek TSAKULOV (SVK), 6-0

Bronze - Magomedkhan MAGOMEDOV (AZE) df. Mohammadhossein MOHAMMADIAN (IRI) by Fall, 4:27 (6-4)
Bronze - Givi MATCHARASHVILI (GEO) df. Vladislav BAITSAEV (HUN), 5-3