Matteo Pellicone Preview

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (January 10) --- The first stop on the road to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games travels through Rome, Italy, for the first of two Ranking Series events, the Matteo Pellicone. The four-day tournament kicks off January 15-18 in Ostia, a port city of ancient Rome, located 30km away from the city center.

The stacked entry list includes seven reigning world champions, all three 2019 Wrestlers of the Year and over 30 world medal holders from the 2019 World Championships.

Freestyle boasts nine world medalists, one of which is a two-time world champion. Greco-Roman features four podium finishers from Nur-Sultan, and women's wrestling rounds out the tournament with an astonishing six reigning world champs and 18 medalists from Kazakhstan.

World Champions That Are Registered:
FS 74kg - Kyle Douglas DAKE (USA) – two-time world champion at 79kg
WW 57kg - Linda MORAIS (CAN) – world champion at 59kg
WW 62kg - Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS) – world champion at 65kg 
WW 62kg - Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ)
WW 69kg - Tamyra Mariama MENSAH (USA)
WW 76kg - Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) – world champion at 72kg 
WW 76kg - Adeline Maria GRAY (USA)

Trio of Wrestlers of the Year Entered
The trio of United World Wrestling's 2019 Wrestlers of the Year Frank CHAMIZO (ITA), Viktor LORINCZ (HUN) and Tamyra MENSAH-STOCK (USA) will all be in action at the Matteo Pellicone. 

 Frank Chamizo, the Freestyle Wrestler of the Year and two-time world champion, is searching for his third Ranking Series title since 2018. He competed in three Ranking Series events last season and captured gold at the City of Sassari Tournament in front of a friendly Italian crowd. He also finished with a silver medal at the Yasar Dogu and a bronze at the Dan Kolov before dropping his world finals match to Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS).

Viktor Lorincz, Greco-Roman's Wrestler of the Year, is making his sixth Ranking Series appearance of his storied career. Through his five previous showings, the 2019 world runner-up has tallied a perfect 19-0 record while reaching the top of the podium in each outing.

Tamyra Mensah-Stock, the 2019 Women's Wrestler of the Year and reigning 68kg world champion, will scrap in her seventh career Ranking Series event. Last year, she wrestled at three of the four Ranking Series events and claimed gold medals at the City of Sassari Tournament, Dan Kolov and Ivan Yariguin.

Potential Dake and Chamizo Matchup 
Some of the biggest personalities in the sport already reside at 74kg. Well, Kyle DAKE (USA) just added his name to the likes of Jordan BURROUGHS (USA), Frank Chamizo and Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS), among many others.

The weight gained massive depth after Dake announced he's moving down from 79kg, a weight where he's the reigning two-time world champion.

The timing of Dake's move couldn’t have come at a better time for wrestling fans, especially heading into the Matteo Pellicone where there’s a long list of renowned wrestlers entered, including Italy's own Frank Chamizo.

Dake and Chamizo is a must-see potential matchup that wrestling fans can't miss. Although Dake is fairly defensive at times, he is one of the best offensive wrestlers on earth when it comes to unconventional positions. Coupling that with Chamizo being one of the toughest wrestlers to score on because of his unorthodox defensive style of wrestling; it’s a match that could light up the scoreboard.

In addition to the above-mentioned pair of two-time world champions, 74kg will also feature Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR), James GREEN (USA) and Yones EMAMICHOGHAEI (IRI). Demirtas is a Rio bronze medalist, Green is a two-time world medalist, and Emamichoghaei is a reigning world bronze medalist, though that was down at 70kg.

Bajrang BAJRANG (IND) begins his quest to the Tokyo Olympic Games at the 2020 Matteo Pellicone where he's entered at 65kg. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Indian Stars Making the Trip to Rome 
Reigning world medalists Kumar RAVI, Bajrang BAJRANG, and Deepak PUNIA will lead a loaded freestyle squad into the Matteo Pellicone.

Ravi qualified India for the 2020 Olympic Games at 57kg with a bronze-medal finish in Nur-Sultan and quite possibly has the toughest road to gold in Rome. Ravi's road could weave through a trio of seasoned American wrestlers with past senior or age-group world medals and a 2020 Olympian.

The United States is sending Joseph COLON (USA), Daton FIX (USA) and Thomas GILMAN (USA). 

Colon medaled (bronze) at 61kg in 2018, while Gilman was a 2017 world runner-up in Paris and finished in fifth place in 2018. But it's the youngster Fix who is the leading man at the weight for the Stars and Stripes after downing Gilman for the world championship starting sport. Fix was a junior world champion back in 2017

Serbia's Stevan MICIC will also be competing at 57kg. Micic became his nation's first freestyle Olympian after finishing in fifth place at the 2019 World Championships. 

Bajrang, a 2018 word silver medalist and 2019 world bronze-medal finisher, could see Iran's reigning world bronze medalist Behnam EHSANPOOR on his road to a potential fourth career Ranking Series gold. 

India’s inserted junior world champion Deepak Punia at 86kg. The 2019 Junior Wrestler of the Year qualified India for the Olympic Games after finishing the 2019 World Championships with a silver medal.

Punia's toughest competition at the weight will be 2018 world silver medalist Fatih ERDIN (TUR) and 2020 Olympian Myles AMINE (SMR).

U23 world champion Bo NICKAL (USA) will be bumping up from 92kg to 97kg with hopes of making USA's Olympic team. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

U23 World Champion Nickal Moving up to Challenge Snyder at 97kg 
Three months after bulldozing his way to a U23 world title at 92kg, Bo NICKAL (USA) is bumping up to the Olympic weight of 97kg with hopes of dethroning two-time world and Rio Olympic champion Kyle SNYDER (USA) for the starting spot. Snyder, known by American fans as "Captain America," qualified the weight for the 2020 Olympic Games with a bronze-medal finish in Nur-Sultan. He's been America's starter since 2015 when he became the youngest American to win a world title.

Six of Ten Women's Wrestling World Champs Set to Scrap in Rome
Over a handful of women's world champions from Nur-Sultan will be in action in Rome – six to be exact – but of those six reigning champs, there's a trio of women moving from non-Olympic weights to Olympic weight in preparation for a run at Olympic gold. 

The six Nur-Sultan winners are: Linda MORAIS (CAN), Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS), Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ), Tamyra Mariama MENSAH (USA), Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) and Adeline Maria GRAY (USA). But Morais, Trazhukova and Vorobeva will all be moving from their non-Olympic winning weights to Olympic weight classes. 

Morais, who won world gold in 2019 at 59kg, is on her way down to already stacked 57kg. In early December, Morais defeated Hannah TAYLOR (CAN) in two straight matches at the Canada Wrestling Trials and will be Canada’s starter for the 2020 season.

The addition of Morais bolsters a weight class that now features three-time world and Olympic champion Risako KAWAI (JPN) and RONG Ningning (CHN), who fell short of defending her 2018 world title in this year's gold-medal bout. Although Kawai won't be in action in Rome, Rong will be.

Another star who competed at 59kg in Kazakhstan, Pooja DHANDA (IND), will also be making her descent down to 57kg. Dhanda was a bronze medalist at 57kg back in 2018 but moved up to 59kg in 2019, where she finished in fifth place at the World Championships. 

Also in the field at 57kg are past world medalists Emese BARKA (HUN), Iryna CHYKHRADZE KHARIV (UKR) and Allison RAGAN (USA).

Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS) is the second world champion that's switching weights. She was the 65kg world champion but has decided that moving down to 62kg gives her the best shot at making Russia’s Olympic team. But Trazhukova won't have to wait long to see how she stacks up against the world's best at the weight as Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) is set to make an appearance at the first Ranking Series event of the year. Tynybekova, the reigning 62kg world champion, was named a United World Wrestling History Maker after becoming the first wrestler from Kyrgyzstan to win a senior-level world title. 

Marianna SASTIN (HUN) and Yuliia TKACH OSTAPCHUK (UKR), who both have world gold on their resumes, will also compete at 62kg.  Sastin, a four-time world medalist, won her world gold in 2013, while Tkach Ostapchuk, who is also a four-time world medalist, won her world title in 2014. 


Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) is the third and final reigning world champion leaping from a non-Olympic weight class to an Olympic weight. The 2019 Comeback Wrestler of the Year is moving from 72kg up to 76kg. 

Vorobeva joins fellow Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN) on the entry list at 76kg. 

But it isn't either of the Olympic champions who are the favorite coming into Rome. The clear favorite to win the weight is Adeline GRAY (USA), who made United States history by winning her unprecedented fifth world title at the Nur-Sultan World Championships late last year.

Past, Present and Future Greco-Roman Stars Set to Compete at Matteo Pellicone
Although Greco-Roman lacks the presence of a reigning world champion in the entries, there isn't a shortage of current and future stars that'll be looking to make some noise in Rome.

World runner-ups Aram VARDANYAN (UZB) and Viktor Lorincz will wrestle at 72kg and 87kg, respectively. 

Meanwhile, rising stars Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY), Kerem KAMAL (TUR) and Semen NOVIKOV (UKR) are looking to make some noise on the senior-level after climbing to the summit of world ranks at the age-group World Championships in 2019.

Meanwhile, rising stars Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY), Kerem KAMAL (TUR) and Semen NOVIKOV (UKR) are looking to make some noise on the senior-level after climbing to the summit of world ranks at the age-group World Championships in 2019.

El Sayed, who is wrestling at 67kg, has been extremely active since qualifying Egypt for the 2020 Olympic Games at arguably the toughest weight class in Nur-Sultan, 67kg. Shortly after the 21-year-old finished in fifth place at the 2019 World Championships, he won gold at the World Military Games then tacked on a second U23 world title to his resume. 

Kerem Kamal, who was named United World Wrestling's Junior Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year after winning his third consecutive junior world title, is entered at 60kg. The young Turkish spark plug is no stranger to the senior level. Last year, he won the Grand Prix of Zagreb, which was a Ranking Series event. He finished with a bronze medal at the European Championships before representing Turkey at the World Championships in Kazakhstan.

Kamal's most significant competition at 60kg will be China's Sailike WALIHAN, who was a world bronze medalist in 2018. 

U23 world champion Semen NOVIKOV (UKR) highlights the entries at 97kg. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan) 

Semen Novikov, a 2019 U23 world champion, rounds out the Greco-Roman rising stars that are on the entry list. He'll be accompanied at 97kg by three-time 2019 Ranking Series medalist Tracy Gangelo HANCOCK (USA). Last season, Hancock won the Grand Prix of Hungary, took second place at the City of Sassari Tournament and third place at the Grand Prix of Zagreb. At the World Championships, Hanock fell to France's 2014 world champion Mélonin NOUMONVI, who is also plugged in at 97kg. 

The Matteo Pellicone begins on January 15-18 and can be followed at www.unitedworldwrestling.org or flowrestling.org. 

Wednesday (January 15)

08:00 - Medical Examination, Weigh-in & Draw GR55-60-63-67-87-97-130kg 
10:30 - Qualification rounds & repechage GR – 55-60-63-67-87-97-130kg 
17:00 - Opening Ceremony 
18:00 - Finals GR – 55-60-63-67-87-97-130kg / Award ceremonies

Thursday (January 16)
08.00 -  Medical Examination, Weigh-in and Draw GR – 72-77-82kg & WW – 57-62-68-76kg
10.30 - Qualification rounds & repechage GR – 72-77-82kg & WW – 57-62-68-76kg 
18:00 -  Finals GR – 72-77-82kg & WW – 57-62-68-76kg  / Award ceremonies 

Friday (January 17)
08:00 - Medical Examination, Weigh-in and Draw WW – 50-53-55-59-65-72kg & FS – 97-125kg 
10:30 - Qualification rounds & repechage WW – 50-53-55-59-65-72kg & FS – 97-125kg 
18:00 - Finals WW – 50-53-55-59-65-72kg & FS – 97-125kg / Award ceremonies 

Saturday (January 18)
08:00 - Medical Examination, Weigh-in and Draw FS – 57-61-65-70-74-79-86-92kg 
10:30 - Qualification rounds & repechage FS – 57-61-65-70-74-79-86-92kg 
18:00 - Finals FS – 57-61-65-70-74-79-86-92kg / Award ceremonies


'Focused' Chamizo Steals Gold Against Burroughs at Matteo Pellicone

By Vinay Siwach

OSTIA (Italy), March 8 --- After a 25-month wait, Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) and Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) finally met again on the mat.

At the Yasar Dogu in 2019, Chamizo had decided to sit out of the final, giving Burroughs the win. This was five months after the American had scored his third win over Chamizo at the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov event in February.

Sure, the pandemic delayed the matchup but Burroughs' loss at the 2019 World Championships  semifinal to Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) in September deprived the fans of a rematch in NurSultan, Kazakhstan. Chamizo was on the other side of the bracket and reached the final against Sidakov.

But on a blockbuster Sunday at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event in Rome, the two superstars clashed for the sixth time in what is quickly becoming wrestling's prized rivalry in recent years.

For the record, Chamizo closed the gap with Burroughs in head-to-head to 4-2 after winning a tense gold medal bout 3-2 at 74kg. Two of Chamizo's points were step out while one was for Burroughs passivity. Even Burroughs scored his two via step outs.

“I am feeling good. I did not even know he (Jordan) will be here,” Chamizo said. “I thought it would be an easy competition. My training is less but I am focused. That's what it is right now. I'm focused on my goals.”

Both wrestlers got into an intense scramble in the first period of the bout which resulted in Chamizo scoring a step out from a situation that seemed advantageous for Burroughs.

Chamizo explained the situation in the post-final interview. “I think he is a little bit scared when there's a scramble,” he said. “He loses focus and that's when I attack. When there is a scramble, he loses focus. He is like I don't want to be here.”

The bout was once again the most anticipated bout in Rome and like always was a medal bout. The two have wrestled for world medals, Ranking Series medals including the title which shows how dominant the two have been in their weight categories.

While Burroughs had talked about how is focused on winning his second Olympic gold medal after missing it in 2016 at Rio, Chamizo has been particularly expressive about being the top guy at 74kg.

Every tournament before the grand event in August will only be a virtual pit stop for wrestler but Chamizo thinks that the changes he has brought in himself will be enough to propel him to the top when it will matter the most five months from now.

“Before, I had training but I had no focus,” he said. “Now, I am a real 74kg. You see the difference between 2018 and now. Jordan is the best. For me, I always prepare for him. But I am the champion. I don't want to say but I the new man.”

It was evident in the final bout as well as Chamizo controlled the center of the mat instead of chasing Burroughs who has a tendency to pounce on the slightest of openings offered the opponent.

“I am training for this. I want to be in the center against him,” he said. “He has good scrambles and attacks. He is like a train. So I want to stay in the center and see what happens.”

Leading into the finals, Burroughs outscored his opponents 9-1 in the two bouts. 2019 Asian champion and world bronze medalist Daniyar KAISINOV (KAZ) was the first to fall to the American 5-0 before he beat Narsingh YADAV (IND) 4-1 in the semifinal.

On the other side, Chamizo had a roller-coaster especially in the quarter-final against Malik AMINE (SMR). Chamizo was at one point trailing Amine but managed to come back and win 13-8.

In the semifinal, Chamizo closed a 6-0 win over Franklin GOMEZ (PUR) to set up the summit clash against Burroughs.

Bajrang PUNIA (IND)

In other freestyle action, Bajrang PUNIA (IND) defended his title at 65kg with a tense 2-2 win over Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) in the gold medal bout. This was Punia's fifth gold medal at a Ranking Series event, making him the most successful freestyle wrestler at the series.

In a far from ideal bout in the final, Punia was left struggling to find an opening against Ochir. He was put on shot-clock and did not score giving a 1-0 lead to Ochir, who later scored a step out to lead 2-0. With 30 seconds to go, Ochir went for a shot but missed, while Punia capitalized on it to take a takedown with 14 seconds remaining.

“It was a good match with him. I am wrestling after a year off and he is also an Olympic qualified wrestler so it was a tough bout,” Punia said. “Before the Olympics, I want to wrestle every Tokyo qualified wrestler..”

Punia began with a 7-0 win over Selim KOZAN (TUR) but was tested by Joseph McKEENA (USA) in the semifinal. It was a rematch from last year which Punia won 4-2. This time, he improved the score to 6-3.

Ochir, on the other hand, dominated his opponents starting with Hamza ALACA (TUR) who he beat 10-0 before a 4-0 win against ROHIT (IND).


In an all-USA final at 86kg, former junior world silver medalist Zahid VALENCIA claimed a stunning 11-0 victory over Mark HALL (USA), himself a two-time junior world champion at 74kg.

Valencia was undoubtedly the top performer of the day as he outscored his opponents 34-2, winning all his bouts via technical superiority.

Another American wrestler who struck gold was Alec PANTALEO (USA) at 70kg. He defeated world silver medalist at 65kg Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (KAZ) twice in the day to claim the gold medal.

The surprise came at 61kg where U23 World Championships silver medalist Adlan ASKAROV (KAZ) defeated world and European silver medalist Suleyman ATLI (TUR) 8-3 in the first bout of the day. The Kazak youngster remained unbeaten for the day and claimed the gold medal while Atli settled for silver.  

World Championships bronze medalist Nurislam SANAYEV captured the top position at 57kg by defeating Nicholas SUNIARO (USA) twice in the day. In the final, Sanayev beat the US wrestler 4-2 while in the day the score was 3-2.

The 79kg gold medal was captured by veteran Galymzhan USSERBAYEV (KAZ). He had to see off a late challenge from David Vincent MC FADDEN (USA) before winning 6-5.

Rio Olympics silver medalist at 86kg Selim YASAR (TUR) won the gold medal at 92kg to close out the competition which was the first Ranking Series event of the year.


Final #WrestleRome MFS team scores

GOLD: USA (190 points)
SILVER: Kazakhstan (178 points)
BRONZE: Turkey (113 points)
FOURTH: India (98 points)
FIFTH: Italy (48 points)

Men's freestyle

GOLD: Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ) df. Nicholas Raymond SURIANO (USA) 4-2


GOLD: Bajrang PUNIA (IND) df. Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) 2-2
BRONZE: Hamza ALACA (TUR) df. ROHIT (IND) 12-10
BRONZE: Joseph Christopher McKENNA 8-2 Selim KOZAN (TUR)

GOLD: Alec William PANTALEO (USA) df. Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (KAZ) 4-0

GOLD: Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) df. Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) 3-2
BRONZE: Nurkozha KAIPANOV (KAZ) df. Franklin GOMEZ MATOS (PUR) 8-1
BRONZE: Daniyar KAISANOV df. Narsingh Pancham YADAV (IND) 5-0

GOLD: Galymzhan USSERBAYEV (KAZ) df. David Vincent MC FADDEN (USA) 6-5
BRONZE: Muhammet Nuri KOTANOGLU (TUR) df. Ramazan Ishak SARI (TUR) 6-0

GOLD: Zahid VALENCIA (USA) df. Mark HALL (USA) 11-0
BRONZE: Myles Najee MARTIN (USA) df. Clayton Steven PYE (CAN) 12-2