2022 UWW World Cup

Team USA's Day 1 Preview & Predictions At The World Cup - Men's Freestyle

Team USA's Day 1 Preview & Predictions At The World Cup - Men's Freestyle

A preview of Team USA's men's freestyle team on Day 1 at the 2022 World Cup against Mongolia and Georgia.

Dec 7, 2022 by Jon Kozak
Team USA's Day 1 Preview & Predictions At The World Cup - Men's Freestyle

The World Cup is set to go down on December 10-11 in Coralville, Iowa between the best wrestling countries in the world. Team USA is the #1 seed and will take on Mongolia and Georgia on Saturday, December 10 in the round-robin group stage. In order for Team USA to make it to the gold medal match on Sunday, they'll need to beat both Mongolia and Georgia in pool play. The below article will preview both of the dual meets on day 1 with match breakdowns and full predictions.

USA vs Mongolia - December 10 at 11:00 am (ET)

Expected Matchups

57 kg: Zane Richards/Nick Suriano, USA vs #8 Zanabazar Zandanbud, MGL

61 kg: #7 Seth Gross/Daniel DeShazer , USA vs Narankhuu Narmandakh, MGL

65 kg: #4 Yianni Diakomihalis/Evan Henderson, USA vs #15 Tulga Tumur Ochir, MGL

70 kg: Alec Pantaleo/Tyler Berger, USA vs Temuulen Enkhtuya/Khanburged Gankhuyag, MGL

74 kg: #8 Jason Nolf/Vincenzo Joseph, USA vs Sumiyabazar Zandanbud, MGL

79 kg: #1 Jordan Burroughs/#14 Chance Marsteller, USA vs Dulguun Altanzu/Batzul Damjin, MGL

86 kg: #7 Zahid Valencia/Mark Hall, USA vs Bat Erdene Byambasuren, MGL 

92 kg: #9 Nate Jackson/Jay Aiello, USA vs Byambadorj Bat Erdene/Gankhuyag Ganbaatar, MGL

97 kg: #2 Kyle Snyder, USA vs Batzul Ulziisaikhan, MGL

125 kg: #7 Hayden Zillmer/#10 Nick Gwiazdowski, USA vs #3 Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur, MGL


57 kg: Zane Richards/Nick Suriano, USA vs #8 Zanabazar Zandanbud, MGL

Mongolia’s Zandanbud won a bronze medal at the 2022 senior world championships and will be a slight favorite over both Suriano and Richards. Zandanbud holds incredible position and is a challenging wrestler to score on. However, that doesn’t mean he’s unbeatable - in fact, he lost to Thomas Gilman 5-1 at worlds. Gilman was successful in applying pressure the hand fight and controlling the mat with step outs. Suriano or Richards will likely have to enforce a similar strategy in order to win the match at the World Cup.

Prediction: Zandanbud by decision

Gilman’s win over Zandanbud at the 2022 World Championships:

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61 kg: #7 Seth Gross/Daniel DeShazer , USA vs Narankhuu Narmandakh, MGL

Narmandakh won a bronze medal at the 2022 senior world championships but was on the opposite side of the bracket as Seth Gross (who finished 5th). Despite Narmandakh’s bracket being significantly easier, the Mongolian is still a dangerous competitor and will be a great test for Gross. Narmandakh wrestles a fairly aggressive style that I believe will play into Gross’ strengths and lead to many scoring opportunities for Gross.

Prediction: Gross by decision

Narmandakh's win in the bronze medal match at the 2022 World Championships:

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65 kg: #4 Yianni Diakomihalis/Evan Henderson, USA vs #15 Tulga Tumur-Ochir, MGL

The bout between Yianni and Tumur-Ochir is the feature matchup of the dual. As a Tokyo Olympian and 2021 world bronze medalist, Tumur-Ochir is one of Mongolia’s most experienced wrestlers. However, Yianni won a silver medal at this year’s world championships and will be a slight favorite against Tumur-Ochir.

It’s worth noting that at the 2021 World Championships, Tumur-Ochir defeated Vazgen Tevanyan in the quarter-finals who had previously defeated Yianni. That win for Tumur-Ochir knocked Yianni out of those worlds. It’s also important to consider Tumur-Ochir’s style. He’s limited in his offensive capabilities and will rely on his strong defense and sound positioning to force his opponent into making mistakes. This style has proven to give Yianni trouble in the past and will present challenges at the World Cup. Yianni will need to get to his offense early in order to force Tumur-Ochir into taking offensive risks.

Prediction: Yianni by decision

Yianni's win over Bajrang at the 2022 World Championships:

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70 kg: Alec Pantaleo/Tyler Berger, USA vs Temuulen Enkhtuya/Khanburged Gankhuyag, MGL

Whether it’s Alec Pantaleo or Tyler Berger at 70kg, USA should get a win over Mongolia’s rep. As the 2022 senior world team rep for Mongolia, Enkhtuya is slightly more credentialed than Gankhuyag. However, Enkhtuya failed to medal at this year’s world championships after going 1-1 and losing to Georgia’s Zurabi Iakobishvili. Meanwhile, Alec Pantaleo has established himself as a top-tier 70kg wrestler in the world and at one time was ranked in the top 10 in our international rankings.

Prediction: Pantaleo by tech fall

74 kg: #8 Jason Nolf/Vincenzo Joseph, USA vs Sumiyabazar Zandanbud, MGL

Zandanbud was a cadet world silver medalist back in 2014 but doesn’t have any significant results on the world level since then. Meanwhile, both Jason Nolf and Vincenzo Joseph have made steady progress since committing to the senior level over the past few years. Nolf most notably won silver at the Yarygin in 2022 where he defeated 2021 world bronze medalist Timur Bizhoev.

Prediction: Nolf by tech fall

79 kg: #1 Jordan Burroughs/#14 Chance Marsteller, USA vs Dulguun Altanzu/Batzul Damjin, MGL

Jordan Burroughs will be a huge favorite in all of his matches at the World Cup and this match against Mongolia should be no different. Altanzu was Mongolia’s rep at the 2022 Senior World Championships but failed to place and Damjin has no significant results on the senior level. 

USA fans shouldn’t be worried if Marsteller takes the mat against Mongolia. Marsteller proved at Final X when he beat Jordan Burroughs in one match that he’s right up there with the best in the world at 79kg.

Prediction: Burroughs by tech fall

86 kg: #7 Zahid Valencia/Mark Hall, USA vs Bat Erdene Byambasuren, MGL

Mongolia’s Byambasuren was a junior world bronze medalist in 2018 but has failed to place at senior worlds the last two years when he has been the country’s rep at 79kg and 86kg. Though Valencia has been behind David Taylor, that hasn’t stopped him from putting up impressive results and climbing the rankings at 86kg. Valencia was a junior world silver medalist in 2017 and over the past two years has wins over world/Olympic medalists Sandro Aminashvili, Fatih Erdin, and Myles Amine. 

Prediction: Valencia by tech fall

92 kg: #9 Nate Jackson/Jay Aiello, USA vs Byambadorj Bat Erdene/Gankhuyag Ganbaatar, MGL

Nate Jackson proved he’s one of the best 92kg wrestlers in the world when he beat J’den Cox in one match of the best of 3 series at Final X. If he takes the mat against Ganbaatar or Bat Erdene, he’ll be a big favorite. Ganbaatar has represented Mongolia for the last two years at the world championships and failed to place both years.

Prediction: Jackson by decision

97 kg: #2 Kyle Snyder, USA vs Batzul Ulziisaikhan, MGL

As the defending world champion, Kyle Snyder will be a huge favorite against Mongolia’s Ulziisaikhan. The two wrestled back at the 2021 senior world championships where Snyder won a dominant 14-4 tech fall. Expect Snyder to dominate again at the World Cup and cruise to a victory. 

Prediction: Snyder by tech fall

Snyder's victory over Ulziisaikhan at the 2021 World Championships:

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125 kg: #7 Hayden Zillmer/#10 Nick Gwiazdowski, USA vs #3 Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur, MGL

Mongolia’s Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur shocked the world when he defeated three-time world champion Geno Petriashvili in the semi-finals of the 2022 World Championships. It’s worth noting that Nick Gwiazdowski does have a win over Munkhtur from the 2018 Yarygin. However, Munkhtur has progressively improved since that period. Munkhtur was 5th at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, bronze at the 2021 World Championships, and Silver at 2022 worlds. 

Prediction: Munkhtur by decision

Gwiazdowski’s win over Munkhtur at the 2018 Yarygin (8:54:16):


Who Wins - USA or  Mongolia? 

I have team USA winning 8 of the 10 matches in the above predictions making Team USA a huge favorite. Mongolia could realistically win both 61kg and 65kg but even if that does happen, USA will be in the driver’s seat because of their potential for bonus points throughout the dual.


USA vs Georgia - December 10 at 7:30 pm (ET)

Expected Matchups

57 kg: Zane Richards/Nick Suriano, USA vs Beka Bujiashvili, GEO

61 kg: #7 Seth Gross/Daniel DeShazer, USA vs Teimuraz Vanishvili, GEO

65 kg: #4 Yianni Diakomihalis/Evan Henderson, USA vs Beka Lomtadze, GEO

70 kg: Alec Pantaleo/Tyler Berger, USA vs #15 Zurabi Iakobishvili, GEO

74 kg: #8 Jason Nolf/Vincenzo Joseph, USA vs Giorgi Sulava, GEO

79 kg: #1 Jordan Burroughs/#14 Chance Marsteller, USA vs #11 Vladimeri Gamkrelidze, GEO

86 kg: #7 Zahid Valencia/Mark Hall, USA vs Tarzan Maisuradze, GEO

92 kg: #9 Nate Jackson/Jay Aiello, USA vs Miriani Maisuradze, GEO

97 kg: #2 Kyle Snyder, USA vs #7 Givi Matcharashvili, GEO

125 kg: #7 Hayden Zillmer/#10 Nick Gwiazdowski, USA vs #4 Geno Petriashvili, GEO


57 kg: Zane Richards/Nick Suriano, USA vs Beka Bujiashvili, GEO

Georgia’s Beka Bujiashvili is a dynamic wrestler who was a junior world bronze medalist in 2014 and represented Georgia this year at the 2022 senior world championships. Though he failed to place in Belgrade, he’ll be a threat to both Richards and Suriano. Almost 2 years ago at the Henri Deglane tournament in France, Suriano defeated Bujiashvili in a tight, 4-1 decision. Bujiashvili would then go on to defeat Vito Arujau in that same tournament in a wild 15-13 match.

Prediction: Suriano by decision

Suriano’s win over Bujiashvili at the 2021 Henri Deglane:

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61 kg: #7 Seth Gross/Daniel DeShazer, USA vs Teimuraz Vanishvili, GEO

Teimuraz Vanishvili was Georgia’s rep at the 2022 Senior World Championships but failed to place after going 0-1 while losing to Mongolia’s Narankhuu Narmandakh. With that in mind, Seth Gross should be a considerable favorite over Vanishvili and might be able to push for a tech or fall.

Prediction: Gross by tech fall

65 kg: #4 Yianni Diakomihalis/Evan Henderson, USA vs Beka Lomtadze, GEO

Beka Lomtadze won a world title in 2019 at 61kg along with world silver in 2016. However, since moving up to 65kg, Lomtadze hasn’t been close to the best wrestler in the world. This past year at the world championships, Lomtadze lost in the first round to Argentina’s Agustin Destribats (9-1). Yianni has multiple wins over Destribats and proved this year he’s one of the best 65kg wrestlers in the world with his silver medal in Serbia.

Prediction: Yianni by decision

70 kg: Alec Pantaleo/Tyler Berger, USA vs #15 Zurabi Iakobishvili, GEO

The match at 70kg could be one of the best of the dual and most important to its outcome. Iakobishvili won a world title in 2017 and bronze medals in 2018, 2021, and 2022. Pantaleo and Berger have both had international success but nothing compared to what Iakobishvili has accomplished. It's also worth noting, Iakobishvili lost to Zain Retherford in the semis of the 2022 World Championships. 

Prediction: Iakobishvili by decision

Retherford's win over Iakobishvili at worlds:

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74 kg: #8 Jason Nolf/Vincenzo Joseph, USA vs Giorgi Sulava, GEO

Giorgi Sulva is a game competitor but has not proven to be among the top 20 in the world at 74kg. Sulava was a U23 World bronze medalist in 2019 and European bronze in 2022. However, at the senior worlds in 2022, he went 0-1 losing to Frank Chamizo in the first round, 14-8. Nolf or Joseph should be considered the slight favorite in this match but it should be highly competitive and Sulava is capable of winning for Georgia.

Prediction: Nolf/Joseph by decision Sulava

79 kg: #1 Jordan Burroughs/#14 Chance Marsteller, USA vs #11 Vladimeri Gamkrelidze, GEO

Georgia’s Vladimeri Gamkrelidze was the surprise of the U23 world championships when he won 79kg over Daulet Yergesh and Carter Starocci. Beyond that, Gamkrelidze also won a bronze medal at the 2022 Matteo Pellicone where he beat European Champion Georgios Kougioumtsidis.

Though Gamkrelidze is a promising up-and-comer, Jordan Burroughs is a heavy favorite in this match. Expect Burroughs to win a controlling bout and push for a tech fall. 

Prediction: Burroughs by tech fall 

Gamkrelidze's win in the finals of the 2022 U23 World Championships:

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86 kg: #7 Zahid Valencia/Mark Hall, USA vs Tarzan Maisuradze, GEO

Georgia’s Tarzan Maisuradze was a junior world bronze medalist in 2015 but has yet to win a world medal at the senior level. His best performance was at the Matteo Pellicone in 2022 where he defeated Mark Hall in a back-and-forth, 8-5 decision and went on to win a silver medal.

Though Maisuradze defeated Hall, I still give Valencia the edge in a potential matchup and think the Hall-Maisuradze match would be a toss-up. Valencia has proven to be a top 10 86kg wrestler in the world and a tier above Maisuradze. If the dual is in balance, expect Valencia to take the mat as the favorite.

Prediction: Valencia by decision

Maisuradze's win over Mark Hall at the Matteo Pellicone:

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92 kg: #9 Nate Jackson/Jay Aiello, USA vs Miriani Maisuradze, GEO

Miriani Maisuradze broke through at the 2022 senior world championship with a bronze medal. He then followed that up with a bronze at the U23 world championships a month later but notably lost to Team USA’s Jacob Cardenas. With that in mind, I give Nate Jackson the edge against Maisuradze based on his performance at the world team trials and Final X where he defeated J’den Cox. 

Prediction: Jackson/Aiello by decision

Jacob Cardenas' win over Miriani Maisuradze at the 2022 U23 World Championships:

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97 kg: #2 Kyle Snyder, USA vs #7 Givi Matcharashvili, GEO

Givi Matcharashvili had a fantastic year in 2022 taking out long-time rep Elizbar Odikadze and winning a bronze medal at the 2022 senior world championships. Despite the fantastic year and tournament, Matcharashvili lost to Batyrbek Tsakulov 10-0 in the semis. Kyle Snyder then of course went on to defeat Tsakulov and win the world title. Beyond that, Snyder defeated Matcharashvili at the 2021 Henri Deglane by tech fall, 14-3.

Prediction: Snyder by decision

Snyder’s win over Matcharashvili at the 2021 Henri Deglane:

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125 kg: #7 Hayden Zillmer/#10 Nick Gwiazdowski, USA vs #4 Geno Petriashvili/Solomon Manashvili, GEO

Though 3-time world champion Geno Petriashvili is listed on the roster for Georgia, it appears he will not be wrestling at the World Cup. If that’s the case, Georgia’s backup is still a solid option in U23 world silver medalist Solomon Manashvili. At U23 worlds in October, Manashvili tech falled Tony Cassioppi in the quarter-finals in a high scoring 16-4 match. Despite that loss, it’s worth noting that Cassioppi defeated Manashvili in July at the Ziolkowski Tournament in Poland. 

Manashvili is a giant, and will be an interesting matchup against either Zillmer or Gwiazdowski. The Georgian will have a big size advantage over both Americans however hasn’t yet proven himself on the senior level like Zillmer or Gwiazdowski have. Because of the size difference, I’d prefer to see Gwiazdowski take the mat against Manashvili. If that’s the case, Gwiazdowski should be able to get to Manashvili’s legs and convert for takedowns - something that Cassioppi was able to do in both matches. 

Prediction: Gwiazdowski over Manashvili

*If Petriashvili does wrestle, I predict he’ll win by decision

Manashvili’s win over Tony Cassioppi at U23 Worlds:

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Who Wins - USA or Georgia?

Though the Georgia team is solid, I have Team USA winning 9 matches against Georgia (8 if Petriashvili wrestles). The big swing matches for Georgia are at 57, 65, 86, 92, and 125 but USA will be big favorites at the rest of the weights. In order for Georgia to upset Team USA, they need everything to go their way in those matches and for Team USA to wrestle well below their potential. With the quality lineup Team USA has at those weights, and wrestling on home turf, I give USA the edge in all of those swing matches and win this dual in dominant fashion.

If Team USA does win both of their dual meets in pool play, they'll advance to the gold medal match against the winner of Pool B. Iran is the favorite in that pool but will be challenged by Japan and the All-World Team. The finals match will take place on Sunday, December 11 at 7:00 pm (ET).