Zhou Erases Eight-Point Deficit, Downs World Champ Mensah

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (January 16) --- It's no secret that ZHOU Feng (CHN) was the underdog coming into her Matteo Pellicone finals against reigning world champion Tamyra MENSAH (USA), and though she fell behind by eight points, she remained composed enough to erase an 8-0 second-period deficit to win the 68kg gold medal. Zhou’s shocking win stopped Mensah, the 2019 Women's Wrestler of the Year, from winning her fourth consecutive Ranking Series title.

“For the first period, I didn’t feel prepared or ready, but I didn’t give up,” said Zhou. At that point of the match, Zhou surrendered three takedowns and a trapped arm gut and trailed 8-0. “I was thinking the match is not finished and I didn’t give up.” 

Zhou, a two-time world medalist, kickstarted her unexpected comeback with two points from a defensive stop, which ended in a takedown. She tacked on six additional points from three gut wrenches and closed out the match on top, 8-8. 

After her remarkable come-from-behind win, Zhou said, “I’m happy and excited. From this competition, most of (these wrestlers) will participate in the Olympic Games, so to get the gold medal makes me very happy.” 

Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR) downed Anshu ANSHU (IND), 10-0, in the 57kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

At 57kg, a friendly wager between two presidents sparked three-time world medalist Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR) past Anshu ANSHU (IND) for the gold medal. Understanding the wager was a joke, and with a smile on her face, the long and lengthy Adekuoroye said, “Before the match, my president and one other president had a bet that I’d maybe lose to (Anshu). So, I told him to keep calm; I’m ready for the match. I’m happy to make him proud.” 

The Nigerian, who was last year’s world bronze medalist at 57kg, quickly handled Anshu in the finals, 10-0. She scored an early takedown off a single leg, then picked up eight straight points off exposures – six of which came from a match-ending leg lace.

“I came here to win a gold medal. For me, it’s not like a surprise, and I look forward to some matches again.”

Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) fought through illness to win the 62kg title. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Even though the reigning world champion Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) has been fighting through a nasty illness since the start of the year, she decided to still compete at the Matteo Pellicone. “At the beginning of this year, I got sick and ill, so I wasn’t 100% ready for the competition,” Tynybekova said. “And, actually, before this final, my coach thought I should not go on the mat because of my illness.”

But, midway through today’s session, she felt strong enough to compete in the medal-match session. And luckily for her, she didn’t have to wrestle the entire six minutes. 

She only wrestled for just over a period – three minutes and 16 seconds to be exact -- and after leading 7-2, was awarded the gold medal when 2019 world silver medalist Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS) broke her nose in the second period and injury defaulted out of the finals.  

“In the final match, I didn’t give my 100%. In my mind, I planned on keeping my energy and strength to wrestle for the two periods. But, accidentally, my Russian opponent couldn’t continue.” 

Erica WIEBE (CAN) wrapped up her 76kg finals match against ZHOU Qian (CHN) in the opening period after a takedown, followed by four leg laces. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

In the 76kg finals, Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN) ended her gold-medal bout against two-time world medalist ZHOU Qian (CHN) in the opening period with a 10-0 shutout victory. 

“When I get into wrestling position, that’s when it gets really fun. She went for kind of a double leg, I redirected, went behind, we get into a scramble, and that’s what wrestling is all about.” 

Wiebe barrel-rolled into four straight leg laces and ended the match 10-0 in the first period. Jokingly, Wiebe said, “I’ve been working on my lace. Watch out world!” 

Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY) scored the come-from-behind fall over Selcuk CAN (TUR) in the 72kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Meanwhile, Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY), Zotlan LEVAI (HUN) and Singh GURPREET (IND) closed out the Greco-Roman portion of the competition with gold medals on Thursday night. 

Elsayed and Levai picked up falls in the 72kg and 77kg finals, respectively, while Gurpreet scored the 8-5 victory over Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR) in the 82kg finals. 

Elsayed, a two-time U23 world champion, trailed 5-1 but flattened Selcuk CAN (TUR) in the 72kg finals and backflipped his way to a second career Ranking Series title. And after a pair of Ranking Series final losses, Levai finally got his long-awaited gold medal when he stuck Yunus BASAR (TUR) in the 77kg finals. 

The third day of wrestling at the Matteo Pellicone kicks off on Friday at 10:30 (local time) in Ostia, Italy.

GOLD - Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR) df. Anshu ANSHU (IND), 10-0 
BRONZE - Linda MORAIS (CAN) df. Jenna Rose BURKERT (USA), 10-0 
BRONZE - Allison Mackenzie RAGAN (USA) df. Alina AKOBIIA (UKR), 4-4 

GOLD - Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) df. Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS), via injury default
BRONZE - Jia LONG (CHN) df. Kayla MIRACLE (USA), 6-1 

GOLD - Feng ZHOU (CHN) df. Tamyra MENSAH (USA), 8-8
BRONZE - Danielle LAPPAGE (CAN) df. Divya KAKRAN (IND), 12-2

GOLD - Erica Elizabeth WIEBE (CAN) vs. Qian ZHOU (CHN), 10-0
BRONZE - Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) df. Elmira SYZDYKOVA (KAZ), via injury

GOLD - Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed Ibrahi ELSAYED (EGY) df. Selcuk CAN (TUR), via fall 
BRONZE - Cengiz ARSLAN (TUR) df. Parviz NASIBOV (UKR), 6 - 0
BRONZE - Maksym YEVTUSHENKO (UKR) df. Gaoquan ZHANG (CHN), 5-3 

GOLD - Zotlan LEVAI (HUN) df. Yunus Emre BASAR (TUR), via fall 
BRONZE - Wuileixis RIVAS ESPINOZA (VEN) df. Ravaughn Richard Ravelle PERKINS (USA), 8 - 2
BRONZE - Sajan SAJAN (IND) df. Emrah KUS (TUR), via fall 

GOLD - Singh GURPREET (IND) df. Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR), 8-5
BRONZE - Florian NEUMAIER (GER) df. John Walter STEFANOWICZ JR (USA), 5 - 1
BRONZE - Salih AYDIN (TUR) df. Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB), 6-5


'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