World Championships day eight semis set

By Ken Marantz & Vinay Siwach

BELGRADE, Serbia (September 17) -- The World Championships have entered its business day and the final three weight classes will be in action on Saturday. Stars from 61kg, 65kg, and 97kg will take the mat.


The semifinals are set

Narankhuu NARMANDAKH (MGL) vs. Reza ATRI (IRI)

Haji ALIYEV (AZE) vs. Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI)

Kyle SNYDER (USA) vs. Mohammadhossein MOHAMMADIAN (IRI)

13:26: European bronze medalist Batyrbek TSAKULOV (SVK) wins a clash of relocated Russian-born wrestlers when defeats Vladislav BAITSAEV (HUN) 4-2 to make the 97kg semifinals. Tsakulov scores a stepout and activity point in the first period and adds a takedown in the second of a match in which he never trailed.

13:26: Givi MATCHARASHVILI (GEO) gives up a 4-pointer in the opening seconds at 97kg against Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD), but comes back with a back-trip takedown and gut wrench to tie it at 4-4 at the break. Trailing on criteria, Matcharashvili gets the point he needs with a stepout with :56 and, with 1 point for fleeing tacked on, he's into the semifinals with a 6-4 victory.

13:25: 97kg quarterfinals with Mohammdhossein MOHAMMADIAN (IRI) wrestling Mahamed ZAKARIIEV (UKR) on Mat C. Mohammadian gets on a double leg attack but Zakariiev pulls off an arm throw to get a huge four. A stepout to make it 5-0. Mohammdian comes back with a stepout and then exposure makes it 5-3. Such is the pace of the match that Zakariiev can't keep up. Mohammdian wins 8-5 for a semifinal against Kyle SNYDER (USA).

13:20: Kyle SNYDER (USA) going full throttle on Magomedkhan MAGOMEDOV (AZE) and he works all takedowns to win 10-0 and is back in the semifinals at 97kg.

13:15: Narankhuu NARMANDAKH (MGL), up 4-1 after the first period, muscles for a takedown and two gut wrenches to go up 10-1 at 65kg against four-time Asian medalist Ulukbek ZHOLDOSHBEKOV (KGZ). Zholdoshbekov rallies for 4, but Narmandakh reverses, and after another gut wrench, Zholdoshbekov stops, holding his side. He can't continue, and Narmandakh advances to the semifinals by injury default with 1:41 left and a 13-5 lead.

13:12: Reza ATRI (IRI) saves himself with a pair of takedowns over a 30-second span midway through the second period, propelling him to a 6-3 victory over European bronze medalist Georgi VANGELOV (BUL) and into the 65kg semifinals.

13:09: Seth GROSS (USA) scored a technical superiority over Suleyman ATLI (TUR) in Tunisia and he starts on the offensive in their 61kg quarterfinal here. Gross gets a takedown, stepout and a caution point to lead 4-2 against Atli at the break. Atli with a takedown to lead 4-4 on criteria. But Gross comes back with a takedown and exposure to retake the lead 8-4. A late takedown gives Gross a 10-4 win over Atli.

13:05: Rei HIGUCHI (JPN) absolutely dominates the quarterfinal against Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) and secures a 10-0 technical fall for a place in the semifinals.

13:01: Sebastian RIVERA (PUR), a product of Rutgers University in the U.S., keeps alive his bid to become Puerto Rico's second world medalist in history, scoring all of his points in the second period for an 8-1 victory over Tsogbadrakh TSEVEENSUREN (MGL) to advance to the 65kg semifinals.

12:58: Yianni DIAKOMIHALIS (USA) provides all of the offense in the 65kg quarterfinal clash with Olympic bronze medalist Bajrang PUNIA (IND), and it pays off, pretty much one point at a time. He gets four stepouts in the first period off his tackle attempts to lead 4-0 after one period. In the second period, Punia reaches over after Diakomihalis is in on a single, but the American tips him over for an exposure. A challenge, a proper takedown and one final stepout give Diakomihalis the 10-0 technical fall at 4:57.

12:57: Haji ALIYEV (AZE) and Abbos RAKHMANOV (UZB) were in a close battle at the break with Aliyev leading 4-3. In the second period, Aliyev goes behind and Rakhmanov for a four. A 10-3 win and Aliyev will wrestle Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) in the semifinals.

12:50: Adil OSPANOV (KAZ) had Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) on the back but Amouzad survived the attempted fall. Amouzad then sends a huge four with an underhook and builds a 9-2 lead. Amouzad with a big four and wins 13-2.

12:40: Vladislav BAITSAEV (HUN) puts on a defensive masterclass against Batzul ULZIISAIKHAN (MGL) as he hangs on for a 6-0 win and a spot in the 97kg quarterfinals. The final spot at 97kg is filled by Batyrbek TSAKULOV (SVK) as he wins 10-0 against Mucahit CELIK (TUR).

12:34: 2019 world bronze medalist Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD), trailing 4-2 against Tuerxunbieke MUHEITE (CHN) at 97kg, scores a takedown and a pair of gut wrenches to take the lead in the second period. He gradually adds the three takedowns he needs for a 14-4 technical fall, putting him into the quarterfinals.

12:33: Olympic silver medalist Kyle SNYDER (USA) may have taken it a bit slow against Zbigniew BARANOWSKI (POL), scoring only stepouts and passivity points. But he does well to win 4-1 for a place in the 97kg semifinals. 

12:31: European champion Magomedkhan MAGOMEDOV (AZE) with a technical superiority win over Erik THIELE (GER) and he moves into the quarterfinals with ease at 97kg.

12:26: Asian champion Mohammadhossein MOHAMMADIAN (IRI) stays on track for a possible semifinal clash with Kyle SNYDER (USA), cruising to a first-period 10-0 technical in his opening match over Samuel SCHERRER (SUI) to gain a spot in the 97kg quarterfinals.

12:25: Former U23 world champion Ulekbek ZHOLDOSHBEKOV (KGZ) up against Khamzat ARSAMERZOUEV (FRA) and gives up a takedown. But his unorthodox style is too much for Arsamerzouev as Zholdoshbekov wins 6-2 for a place in the quarterfinal at 61kg. 

12:21: At 61kg, Reza ATRINAGHARCHI (IRI) gets behind for a takedown with Islam BAZARGANOV (AZE) on the activity clock, then seconds later gets the activity point. In the second period, Atrinagharchi is put on the clock and he responds with a stepout. That's all the scoring and the Iranian is through to the quarterfinals with a 4-0 win.

12:10: Olympic bronze medalist Bajrang PUNIA (IND) brings some light to what has been a dark day for India, scoring two takedowns and an activity point in a 5-4 win over Alejandro VALDES (CUB) to advance to the 65kg quarterfinals.

12:08: The U.S. juggernaut continues to roll with back-to-back wins on Mat A. Vianni DIAKOMIHALIS (USA) powers to a 10-0 technical fall over Vladimir DUBOV (BUL) to make the quarterfinals at 65kg, and Seth GROSS (USA) follows with a 7-0 win over Russian-born Eduard GRIGOREV (POL) to advance at 61kg. 

12:07: Sebastian RIVERIA (PUR) shows his win at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series was not a fluke. He beats Ahmet CYAR (TUR) 11-1 and moves into the 65kg quarterfinals.

12:05: 2016 Olympic silver medalist Rei HIGUCHI (JPN) wrestling Islam DUDAEV (ALB) at 61kg. He has built a 4-0 lead and keeps working on the leg attacks to make it 6-0 before a big double for four confirms his technical superiority.

11:57: Iszmail MUSZUKAJAEV (HUN), who memorably defeated Takuto OTOGURO (JPN) in a contentious world bronze-medal match in Nursultan in 2019, can't get any offense going and falls 6-0 to Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) in the second round at 65kg.

11:57: Olympic silver medalist Haji ALIYEV (AZE) in the 1/8 final against Agustin DESTRIBATS (ARG). They exchange stepouts but Aliyev with a takedown to lead 3-1. Destribats with a takedown on the edge but Aliyev challenges for a singlet pull. Aliyev gets on a single leg in the second period and completes it with a stepout. A takedown and he will win 6-1.

11:45: Kaiki YAMAGUCHI (JPN) shows a problem rarely seen in the Japan camp. He led 5-1 against Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB). But he gave up two takedowns in the second period as Rakhmonov took a 5-5 criteria lead and the win.

11:29: 2021 world U23 bronze medalist Assyl AITAKYN (KAZ) leaves it late, scoring a takedown with :05 left to edge Pankaj PANKAJ (IND) 5-4 at 61kg.

11:21: Another Iranian clears the first hurdle as 2019 Asian champion Reza ATRINAGHARCHI (IRI) scores 8 points in the first period, then finishes off an 11-1 technical fall over Besir ALILI (MKD) a minute into the second.

11:15: John DIAKOMIHALIS (USA) found a way when he needed it the most! He avenges his 2021 Oslo loss to Vazgen TEVANYAN (ARM) with a shutout 4-0 win at 65kg.

11:08: Two-time world bronze medalist Alejandro VALDES (CUB) rolls to a 10-0 technical fall over Shaohua YUAN (CHN) to advance at 65kg. He finishes the match in 1:50 with a series of gut wrenches.

11:05: Vladimir DUBOV (BUL), a world silver medalist in 2013 and bronze medalist in 2015, survives his first test at 65kg with a 3-0 victory over Alexander SEMISOROW (GER). The 34-year-old Dubov gets a takedown in the first period and an activity point in the second.

11:00: A winning start for Asian champion Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI). Junsik YUN (KOR) had no answers to Amouzad's underhooks and gave stepouts. Amouzad fixes a 1/8 final against Izsmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN)

10:50: A start that was a little unexpected! Agustin DESTRIBATS (ARG) shows he is still working hard to be counted among the best at 65kg. He picks up a 9-1 win over Beka LOMTADZE (GEO)

10:47: In a qualification-round clash at 65kg between two world junior champions from 2019, Asian bronze medalist Kaiki YAMAGUCHI (JPN) puts on a second-period surge, including a 4-point tackle, to top Erik ARUSHANIAN (UKR) by 12-2 technical fall. In 2019 in Tallin, Yamaguchi won 61kg and Arushanian at 70kg.

10:29: Welcome to all from Belgrade. Today will be the final morning session of the tournament. After a handful of repechage matches, competition will get underway in the three remaining freestyle weight classes, 61kg, 65kg and 97kg, taking us through the quarterfinals.


Wrestling scores big at World C'ships with 706 percent jump in engagements

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (October 4) -- Wrestling scored big both on and off the mat during this year’s UWW World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, recording a staggering growth in viewership and engagement numbers digitally. Fans watched twenty-seven million minutes, close to 10 million page views on the mobile app, and a massive 706 percent jump in social media engagements in the last year.

The 2022 edition of the UWW’s flagship event, held September 10-18 was the first digitally-focussed World Championships. Special emphasis was laid on providing a high-quality fan experience that was easy to navigate and, at the same time, engaging to follow on the website, app, and various social media platforms. And the athleticism of the wrestlers drove the digital consumption, with wrestling recording impressive numbers across all platforms.

"The latest numbers from the World Championships show the importance of digitalization and with the current times, UWW is moving into the digital era," Nenad LALOVIC, UWW President, said. "The growth is reflected by the increased engagement across UWW’s new digital platforms and social media channels. This year's World Championships and the millions of fans who watched, interacted, or helped us grow, have laid the foundation for expanding the federation's digital potential."

Be it the UWW website, mobile app, the new streaming hub, or social media platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, wrestling showed impressive year-on-year growth compared to last year’s World Championship on different metrics, such as social media growth, total views, total minutes and time spent on the web.

“We made the digital jump during these World Championships and the results validated our initial projections that now was the time more than ever to invest into a more robust digital experience across UWW platforms,” Gordon Templeman, UWW Commercial and Communications Director said. “There was tremendous benefit from a consolidation of tools that are more interconnected than ever before. We made an initial push in a short period of time and are optimistic for continued growth.”

Key highlights from the data analysis are:

* 27 million minutes were watched during the World Championship on the new video streaming hub, which gave the fans control of the viewing experience due to its multi-view option;

* The new UWW mobile app received 9.77 million page views and an average of 13 minutes and 46 seconds per session were spent, which is roughly equivalent to one bout. The high numbers meant the app topped the sports categories in app stores in key UWW markets;

* The total social media engagements surpassed 6.2 million in September, up by 706 percent since the 2021 World Championships.

Apart from these, the average time spent on the website grew by 41 percent to seven minutes, and the total page views across the website and mobile app were recorded at close to 19 million.

"Data is key to delivering digital experiences that fans want," Hisham Shehabi, COO, N3XT Sports, said. "Therefore, a diverse digital ecosystem helps augment fan intelligence capability. With 500 social media posts, millions in streaming viewership, and increased overall engagement, UWW's ability to customize the user experience has grown."

The massive growth is a direct consequence of the path-breaking steps taken by the UWW in the last few years under the leadership of President Lalovic. The UWW has identified and prioritized digital transformation as one of the five pillars for its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, which was presented and approved at the 2021 UWW Congress.

UWW has taken several steps aimed at improving the fan experience and increasing the value to its partners to become future-proof and modernize further. A new mobile app was launched along with a video hub, which offered features like the multi-functionality view during the live streaming. This is one of the best examples of fan-led design and development as this was in direct response to the fans’ behavior while streaming.

“We focused our efforts on digital tools that would improve the competition for our fans and those at the competition. Launching an App, developing a video hub and putting in motion an audience database was a challenge, but the World Championships were too big of an opportunity not to start in this new digital direction,” said Sebastien Guenat, UWW Director of IT.

The 2022 World Championships also helped the UWW to establish itself as a true media and entertainment content house, creating more than 500 posts during the World Championships for use across its channels.

All these initiatives have helped the UWW establish a direct relationship with the fans and expand the digital footprint, as evident from the latest figures.