2024 Olympic Games Watch Party

Can Aaron Brooks Beat Hassan Yazdani? 86 kg 2024 Olympic Wrestling Preview

Can Aaron Brooks Beat Hassan Yazdani? 86 kg 2024 Olympic Wrestling Preview

A full preview with predictions for the 86 kg weight class in the men's freestyle wrestling at the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics.

Jun 13, 2024 by Jon Kozak
Can Aaron Brooks Beat Hassan Yazdani? 86 kg 2024 Olympic Wrestling Preview

The 2024 Olympics are set to go down in Paris, France with wrestling being featured August 5-11. The 86 kg weight class will feature Aaron Brooks as Team USA’s representative against a loaded field that includes Iran’s world and Olympic champion Hassan Yazdani. Check out the article below for a full preview of this incredible weight class with full medal predictions.

The 86 kg 2024 Olympic Participants

Qualified At Worlds

Gold - Aaron Brooks, USA (David Taylor qualified)

Silver - Hassan Yazdani, IRI

Bronze - Myles Amine, SMR

Bronze - Azamat Dauletbekov, KAZ

5th - Javrail Shapiev, USB

Continental Qualifiers

Pan-Ams - Ethan Ramos, PUR

Pan-Ams - Alexander Moore, CAN

African & Oceania - Jayden Lawrence, AUS

African & Oceania - Fateh Benferdjallah, ALG

Euros - Artur Naifonov, AIN (RUS)- *Inelligible 

Euros - Osman Nurmagomedov, AZE

Asians - Hayato Ishiguro, JPN

Asians - Bat-Erdene Byambasuren, MGL

Naifonov's replacement - Arslan Bagaev, AIN (RUS)

At Last Chance World Qualifier

Dauren Kurugliev, GRE

Magomed Ramazanov, BUL

Vladimeri Gamkrelidze, GEO

86 kg Olympians' Accolades

  • Hassan Yazdani, IRI - 2016 Olympic Champion, 2020 Olympic Silver Medalist, 2017, 2019, & 2021 World Champion, 2015, 2022, & 2023 World Silver, 2018 World Bronze
  • Myles Amine, SMR - 2020 Olympic Bronze, 2023 World Bronze
  • Azamat Dauletbekov, KAZ - 2022 & 2023 World Bronze
  • Osman Nurmagomedov, AZE - 2023 World Silver (at 92 kg), 2021 & 2022 World Bronze (at 92 kg)
  • Vladimeri Gamkrelidze, GEO - 2022 & 2023 World Bronze (at 79 kg)
  • Aaron Brooks, USA - 2023 U23 World Champion, 2018 U20 World Silver, 2017 U17 World Champion
  • Hayato Ishiguro, JPN - 2018 U20 World Champion, 2019 U23 World Bronze
  • Bat Erdene Byambasuren, MGL - 2018 U20 World Bronze
  • Dauren Kurugliev, GRE - 2020 Individual World Cup Champion
  • Arslan Bagaev, AIN (RUS) - 2023 U23 World Bronze, 2019 Cadet World Silver

86 kg Olympic Seeds

  1. Azamat Dauletbekov, KAZ
  2. Hasan Yazdani, IRI
  3. Myles Amine, SMR
  4. Javrail Shapiev, UZB
  5. Magomed Ramazanov, BUL
  6. Bat-Erdene Byambasuren, MGL
  7. Arslan Bagaev, AIN (RUS)
  8. Dauren Kurugliev, GRE

The Favorite

  • Hassan Yazdani, IRI

Hassan Yazdani is by far the most credentialed wrestler in field and should be considered the favorite to win gold in Paris. Yazdani is a two-time Olympic medalist (gold in 2016 & silver in 2020) and has placed at the World Championships 7 different times (3-time gold medalist). 

As impressive as Yazdani’s accolades are, what’s even more impressive is his dominance against the 86 kg field, minus David Taylor, over the past 7 years. If you remove the matches against Taylor, Yazdani is 26-0 at the World Championships and Olympics since 2017. Of those matches, Yazdani outscored his opponents by a combined score of 238-23 while tallying 16 techs, 3 pins, and 1 forfeit. To make it simple, outside of David Taylor, no one in the world has been close to beating Hassan Yazdani. Now that Taylor is not in the field, Yazdani is the favorite to win gold in the 86 kg bracket.

Yazdani's win over David Taylor at the 2021 World Championships:

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Who Can Beat Yazdani?

  • Aaron Brooks, USA

While Yazdani is the clear favorite, Aaron Brooks biggest threat to Yazdani of any wrestler in the bracket. What makes this fascinating is both Brooks will be unseeded going into the Olympics and randomly drawn into the 86 kg bracket. That means Brooks could be drawn in on the same side of the bracket as Hassan Yazdani, Myles Amine, and Arslan Bagaev.

Aaron Brooks shocked the wrestling world when he defeated David Taylor in two straight matches at the Olympic Trials. It’s not unreasonable to think Aaron Brooks can defeat Hassan Yazdani considering David Taylor is 5-1. However, the “transitive property” doesn’t always work in wrestling and Yazdani will pose a unique challenge that Brooks has likely never felt in his wrestling career. The Penn State camp will certainly have Brooks prepared and I believe Brooks possesses the perfect style to deal with Yazdani’s underhooks and pace. 

Aaron Brooks' win in the finals of the 2023 U23 World Championships:

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Medal Contenders

  • Dauren Kurugliev, GRE
  • Myles Amine, SMR
  • Azamat Dauletbekov, KAZ
  • Javrail Shapiev, UZB
  • Hayato Ishiguro, JPN
  • Magomed Ramazanov, BUL
  • Osman Nurmagomedov, AZE
  • Arslan Bagaev, AIN (RUS)

I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the above 7 wrestlers bring home a medal from Paris - there’s that much parity in the weight and these wrestlers have all traded wins and losses with one another over the past few years. Of this group, Dauren Kurugliev might be the most dangerous. Kurugliev is a Russian now representing Greece and has past victories over Artur Naifonov and Myles Amine. Kurugliev was also Russia’s 86 kg representative at the 2018 world championships where he placed 5th losing competitive matches to both David Taylor (8-6) and Hassan Yazdani (11-5). Kurugliev will be a threat to everyone in this bracket and as the #7 will likely wrestle #2 seed Yazdani in the quarter-finals with the potential to be one of the best quarters of the entire Olympics.

Dauren Kurugliev's match against David Taylor at the 2018 World Championships:

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As a world and Olympic bronze medalist, Myles Amine is the most credentialed wrestler in this group and will be the #3 seed at the Olympics. That means Amine will be on the same side of the bracket as Yazdani and Kurugliev so the path to the finals, and medal stand, will be a battle. Amine has improved against Yazdani going from getting teched 11-0 at the 2019 World Championships to losing 7-2 at the 2023 World Championships. Beyond that, Amine defeated Kurugliev (3-2) at the 2023 Hungarian Ranking Series Tournament but also has two, close losses to Kurugliev. If he doesn’t pull off the huge upset over Yazdani, Amine will likely have to defeat Kurugliev to medal at the Olympics.

Myles Amine's win in the bronze medal match of the 2023 World Championships over Javrail Shapiev:

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Azamat Dauletbekov will be the top seed at the Olympics and could potentially have a great path to the finals with Yazdani, Amine, and Kurugliev all sitting on the bottom side. Dauletbekov is a two-time world bronze medalist and has recent wins over fellow Olympians Myles Amine and Javrail Shapiev. However, Dauletbekov lost to #8 seed, and potential quarter-final opponent Hayato Ishiguro at the Budapest Ranking Series tournament earlier this month. Like the other contenders in this bracket, Dauletbekov certainly isn’t a medal lock in Paris. 

Dauletbekov's win over Myles Amine at the 2024 Budapest Ranking Series Tournament:

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Uzbekistan’s Javrail Shapiev has never medaled at a World Championships but his recent results suggest he’s capable of reaching the podium at the Olympics. Shapiev is coming off three impressive tournament performances placing second at the 2024 Asian Championships, third at the 2023 Asian Games, and 5th at the 2023 World Championships. At worlds, Shapiev notably teched Hayato Ishiguro before losing to Hassan Yazdani and Myles Amine. At the Asian Games, Shapiev defeated Dauletbekov but then lost to him a few months later at the Asian Championships. Shapiev will be the #4 seed in Paris and will be right in the mix with the rest of the contenders.

Javrail Shapiev's win over Hayato Ishiguro at the 2023 World Championships:

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Japan’s Hayato Ishiguro is a dangerous competitor in the 86 kg field and has a hitlist that might shock American fans. In his freestyle career, Ishiguro has defeated Aaron Brooks (11-10 at the 2017 U20 World Championships), Max Dean (12-2 at the 2019 U23 World Championships), Myles Amine (pinned at the 2023 Zagreb Open), and Zahid Valencia (13-2 at the 2023 Zagreb Open). Beyond those wins over American-born wrestlers, Ishiguro is coming off a bronze medal performance at the recent Budapest Ranking Series tournament where he lost only to Hassan Yazdani and defeated two-time world medalist Azamat Dauletbekov.

Ishiguro's win over Dauletbekov in the bronze medal match of the 2024 Budapest Ranking Series Tournament:

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Magomed Ramazanov is a Russian now representing Bulgaria who is finally getting his shot at the Olympics after being stuck behind Naifonov and Kurugliev for years. Ramazanov placed twice at Russian Nationals and almost defeated Artur Naifonov back at the 2021 Russian Nationals. On top of that, Ramazanov has notable career victories over Akhmed Gadzhimagomedov (who beat Dake), Chance Marsteller, Alireza Karimi, Zahid Valencia, Vladislav Valiev, Osman Nurmagomedov, Radik Valiev, Vladimir Gamkrelidze, Azamat Dauletbekov, and several other top wrestlers in the world. Despite those wins, Ramazanov had to go to the last chance World Olympic Qualifier after losing to Osman Nurmagomedov at the European Qualifier. Ramazanov will be the #5 seed at the Olympics and if Aaron Brooks or Artur Naifonov are on the other side, Ramazanov has a great chance to reach the finals.

Ramazanov's win over Dauletbekov at the 2024 Zagreb Open:

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Osman Nurmagomedov is another medal contender worth mentioning. Nurmagomedov won a silver medal at 92 kg at the 2023 World Championships and doesn’t have a ton of results against rest of the field. However, Nurmagomedov does have notable wins over Vasyl Mykhailov, Magomed Ramazanov, and Zahid Valencia. Nurmagomedov will be unseeded at the Olympics so he’ll need a good draw in the bracket in order to reach the podium.

Nurmagomedov's win over Zahid Valencia at the 2023 World Championships:

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Arslan Bagaev is the final medal contender worth mentioning and is a late addition to the field after he was the only 86kg Russian wrestler to be approved by the IOC to compete at the Olympics. Bagaev surprisingly won Russian Nationals in 2023 and was Russia's representative at the 2023 World Championships. However, Bagaev failed to place at worlds after going 2-1 and losing to Kazakhstan's Azamat Dauletbekov. Since then, Bagaev has had mixed results with a bronze medal at U23 Worlds and a 5th place finish at the 2024 European Championships. At U23 Worlds, Bagaev's only loss was a tight, 5-4 decision to Aaron Brooks. At the European Championships, Bagaev dropped matches to both Dauren Kurugliev (10-0) and Arsenii Dzhioev (6-4). Most recently, Bagaev had a very disappointing Russian Nationals where he failed to place after losing to Ibgraim Kadiev (8-7) and Alan Naifonov (10-0). 

Who Will Win Gold At 86 kg?

Though Hassan Yazdani is the favorite, Aaron Brooks is my pick to win the gold medal in Paris. I think Brooks is a better defensive wrestler than Yazdani has ever faced and is a more complete wrestler than Yazdani - he has more ways to score offensively and is more adept in scramble positions. Brooks will be tested and I’m a little concerned with his lack of experience on the international scene but his performance against David Taylor at the Olympic Trials is enough to give me the confidence to pick him for gold.

Full 86 kg Medal Predictions:

Gold - Aaron Brooks, USA

Silver - Hassan Yazdani, IRI

Bronze - Dauren Kurugliev, GRE

Bronze - Myles Amine, SMR