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Mason Parris In Paris - 125 kg 2024 Olympic Preview & Prediction

Mason Parris In Paris - 125 kg 2024 Olympic Preview & Prediction

A full preview with predictions for the 125 kg weight class in men's freestyle wrestling at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Jul 5, 2024 by Jon Kozak
Mason Parris In Paris - 125 kg 2024 Olympic Preview & Prediction

The 2024 Paris Olympics will feature wrestling from August 5-11 with 125 kg in the men’s freestyle division taking place on August 9 and 10. Mason Parris is coming off a bronze medal performance at the 2023 World Championships and will represent Team USA in the Olympics at 125 kg. Check out the below article to see a preview of where Mason Parris stacks up with the best heavyweights in the world and for our medal prediction of 125 kg at this year’s Olympic Games. 

125 kg Olympians

Qualified At 2023 Worlds

Gold - Amir Zare, IRI

Silver - Geno Petriashvili, GEO

Bronze - Taha Akgul, TUR

Bronze - Mason Parris, USA

5th Place - Abdulla Kurbanov, RUS

Qualified At Continentals

Pan-Ams - Amar Dhesi, CAN

Pan-Ams - Jonovan Smith, PUR

African & Oceania - Diaaeldin Abdelmottaleb, EGY

African & Oceania - Ashton Mutuwa, NGR

Euros - Dzianis Khramiankou, BLR - ruled ineligible

Euros - Giorgi Meshvilidishvili, AZE

Asians - Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur, MGL

Asians - Yusup Batirmurzaev, KAZ

Qualified At Last Chance

Aiaal Lazarev, KGZ

Zhiwei Deng, CHN

Daniel Ligeti, HUN

Replacement

Robert Baran, POL - replacing Dzianis Khramiankou

125 kg Olympians Accolades

  • Amir Zare, IRI - 2021 & 2023 World Champion | 2020 Olympic Bronze | 2022 World Bronze
  • Geno Petriashvili, GEO - 2017, 2018, & 2019 World Champion| 2020 Olympic Silver | 2021 & 2023 World Silver | 2016 Olympic Bronze | 2013, 2015, & 2022 World Bronze
  • Taha Akgul, TUR - 2016 Olympic Gold | 2014, 2015, & 2022 World Champion | 2013 & 2019 World Silver | 2020 Olympic Bronze | 2013, 2021, & 2023 World Bronze
  • Mason Parris, USA - 2023 World Bronze | 2019 U20 World Champion
  • Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur, MGL - 2022 World Silver | 2021 World Bronze | 2019 U23 World Bronze
  • Zhiwei Deng, CHN - 2018 World Silver | 2019 World Bronze | 2007 U20 World Bronze
  • Amar Dhesi, CAN - 2014 U20 World Champion
  • Yusup Batirmurzaev, KAZ - 2019 U23 World Bronze

Projected 125 kg Olympic Seeds

  1. Amir Zare, IRI
  2. Geno Petriashvili, GEO
  3. Mason Parris, USA
  4. Taha Akgul, TUR
  5. Daniel Ligeti, HUN
  6. Giorgi Meshvildishvili, AZE
  7. Robert Baran
  8. Abdulla Kurbanov, AIN (RUS)

The Favorite

  • Amir Zare, IRI

In a weight class with three past world champions, Iran’s Amir Zare is the man to beat in Paris. Zare is only 23 years old and has already won Worlds twice. Zare put together a dominant 2023 World Championships where he teched Geno Petriashvili in the finals and beat Taha Akgul in the semis, 4-0 solidifying himself as the best heavyweight in the world. It’s worth noting that Zare lost to Petriashvili 6-3 at the Tokyo Olympics, lost to Akgul 4-2 at 2022 Worlds, and was pinned by Mason Parris at 2019 U20 Worlds. However, Zare has clearly separated himself from the field over the past two years and will be the man to beat in Paris. Zare's strength in the hand fight and ability to manhandle his opponents around the mat is a unique ability that no other heavyweight in the world possesses making him almost unbeatable. 

Amir Zare's win over Geno Petriashvili in the 2023 World Finals:

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The Contenders

  • Mason Parris, USA
  • Taha Akgul, TUR
  • Geno Petriashvili, GEO

As mentioned above, all three of these wrestlers have career wins over Zare and are the most likely wrestlers to win gold after the Iranian heavyweight. Mason Parris won bronze at last year’s World Championships where he defeated fellow Olympians Abdulla Kurbanov (12-2), Zhiwei Deng (8-4), and Yusup Batirmurzaev (11-0) but lost to Geno Petriashvili (8-6). Parris is set to be the #3 seed in Paris and if seeds hold he’ll have a rematch with Petriashvili in the semi-finals at the Olympics. Their match at Worlds was a back-and-forth one and Parris is capable of making adjustments and making the Olympic final. 

The big question is how does Parris match up against Zare? Parris pinned Zare in the U20 World finals five years ago - that means very little to their potential bout at the Olympics. Parris is as athletic as they come at 125 kg but can he handle Zare’s unique size and pressure that seemingly melts every heavyweight in the world? If Parris does make it to the finals opposite Zare their potential match will be one of the most highly anticipated matches of the Olympics. 

Mason Parris' win over Amir Zare in the 2019 U20 World Finals:

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Mason Parris' win over Abdulla Kurbanov in the 2023 World bronze medal match:

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Taha Akgul is already one of the greatest heavyweights of all time and is the last wrestler to defeat Amir Zare. Akgul won the Olympics back in 2016 and placed bronze at the Tokyo Olympics. On top of that, Akgul is a three-time world champion and has medaled at every world championship, except one (2018), since 2013. Whether or not Akgul will win his second Olympic gold might come down to if he can get by Amir Zare in the semis. Akgul will be the #4 seed in Paris and has split with Zare the last two times they’ve wrestled - Akgul won at 2022 Worlds, Zare won at 2023 Worlds. Akgul might be past his prime at 33 years old, but he’s still capable of winning Gold at the Games this year. 

Taha Akgul's win over Amir Zare at the 2022 World Championships:

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The final contender in the 125 kg field is Georgia’s Geno Petriashvili - a three-time world champion who has won silver (2020) and bronze (2016) at the Olympics. Petriashvili holds wins over Akgul, Parris, and Zare and at 30 years old, this is likely his last chance to win the elusive Olympic gold medal. Despite his wins and accolades, it’s worth noting that Petriashvili didn’t look his best at his last outing at the Budapest Ranking Series tournament in June. There, Petriashvili took bronze after getting pinned by Yusup Batirmurzaev. Along with the loss, it appeared Petriashvili was battling an elbow injury that was hindering him from wrestling his best. Health will be the key for Petriashvili in Paris and if he’s operating at 100%, he’ll be right in the mix with the rest of the top wrestlers in the bracket. 

Geno Petriashvili's win over Mason Parris in the 2023 World semifinals:

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Who Can Beat The Contenders?

  • Lkhagvageral Munkhtur, MGL
  • Yusup Batirmurzaev, KAZ
  • Zhiwei Deng, CHN

The above three wrestlers are huge underdogs to win gold but have all proven to be dangerous threats to the contenders. First up is Mongolia’s Lkhagvageral Munkhtur, a two-time world medalist winning bronze in 2021 and silver in 2021. Munkhtur also placed 5th at the Tokyo Olympics and has notable career wins over Geno Petriashvili, Zhiwei Deng, Yusup Batirmurzaev, Amirreza Masoumi, Hayden Zillmer, and Greg Kerkvliet. Even with all of those wins, Munkhtur has frequently lost to Zare, Petriashvili, and Akgul and even went 0-1 at last year's worlds losing to Zhiwei Deng. Munkhtur will be unseeded heading into the Olympics and will need a favorable draw to medal, but he’s stingy defensively and might be the best pick to win a medal after the big four at this weight. 

Munkhtur's win over Geno Petriashvili at the 2022 World Championships:

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Yusup Batirmurzaev is another wrestler to watch out for at the Olympics and is coming off a win in June of Geno Petriashvili. At the 2024 Budapest Ranking Series in June, Batirmurzaev surprisingly pinned Petriashvili 30 seconds into first period with a big throw. While the win over Petriashvili is noteworthy, Mason Parris went on to pin Batirmurzaev in the finals and Parris also holds an 11-0 win over Batirmurzaev from the 2023 World Championships. Despite those results against Parris, Batirmurzaev is one of the bigger heavyweights in the field and obviously has some dangerous upper-body skills. That makes him a threat to anyone in the bracket and he has the potential to be in contention for a medal in Paris. 

Yusup Batirmurzaev's win over Geno Petriashvili at the 2024 Budapest Ranking Series Tournament:

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China’s Zhiwei Deng is the final wrestler who should be considered a legitimate medal threat at the Olympic Games. Deng is a two-time world medalist (silver in 2018 & bronze in 2019) and this will be his third time wrestling at the Olympic Games. Deng also has an impressive hitlist with notable wins over world medalists Nick Gwiazdowski and Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur. On top of that, Deng was just seconds away from defeating Mason Parris at the World Championships last year. Deng is a seasoned vet and has strong defense that keeps him in almost every match. He likely doesn’t have the skills to win Olympic gold, or even make the finals, but he’s savvy enough to make a run to a medal match and knock off one of the contenders at 125 kg. 

Deng's win over Nick Gwiazdowski at the 2024 Zagreb Open:

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Sleepers & Landmines

  • Abdulla Kurbanov, AIN (RUS)
  • Amar Dhesi, CAN
  • Giorgi Meshvilidishvili. AZE
  • Aiaal Lazarev, KGZ

The above group of four wrestlers are lesser known to the casual freestyle fan and have never medaled at senior world championships. However, this group has flashes of results that suggest they could surprise some people in Paris. First up is Russia’s Abdulla Kurbanov. Russia hasn’t medaled at heavyweight in a worlds or Olympics since 2015 but Kurbanov got as close as any rep by reaching the bronze medal match last year at worlds before losing to Mason Parris, 12-2. Also at Worlds, Kurbanov wrestled Petriashvili to a 6-5 decision and recorded wins over fellow Olympians Robert Baran and Daniel Ligeti. Kurbanov is still only 22 years old, and we should expect him to continue to progress as time goes on and he gains more experience. With that in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an even better version of Kurbanov that the one we saw last year at worlds.

Kurbanov's win over Robert Baran at the 2023 World Championships:

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Canada’s Amar Dhesi should be a familiar name to American folkstyle fans - Dhesi was a 4-yer starter for Oregon State and earned All-American honors three times (5th in 2019 & 2016, 3rd in 2018). Dhesi was also a U20 world champion in 2014 but has never experienced the same level of success on the senior level. Dhesi does have solid senior-level wins over Nick Gwiazdowski, Daniel Ligeti, Tony Nelson, and Reineris Salas suggesting that if he’s wrestling his best, he could be a factor in this bracket. 

Dhesi's win over Nick Gwiazdowski at the 2022 Pan-Am Championships:

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Giorgi Meshvildishvili will likely be the #6 seed in the Olympic bracket and has a few notable results that suggest he could give Mason Parris, and some of the other contenders, trouble at the Olympics. Meshvilidishvili is a Georgian representing Azerbaijan who recently won bronze at the 2024 European Championships. Beyond that, Meshvildishvili defeated Hayden Zillmer (5-4) at the 2023 Zagreb Open and lost a competitive, 5-2 match to Mason Parris at the 2024 Zagreb Open. Meshvildishvili also has two close losses to Taha Akgu (3-1 and 2-0) on his ledger. Meshvildishvili shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone in this bracket and he’s capable of pulling off an upset or two to bring home a medal from Paris. 

Meshvildishvili's win over Hayden Zillmer at the 2023 Zagreb Open:

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The final “dark horse” to watch out for is Kyrgyzstan’s Aiaal Lazarev. At 38 years old, Lazarev is the oldest heavyweight in the field and has the experience of competing at 7 senior world championships and 2 Olympic Games. Even with all of that experience, Lazarev has never won a senior world medal but he does hold wins over fellow Olympians Daniel Ligeti, Amar Dhesi, and, Robert Baran. Lazarev is a mountain of a heavyweight and with the right draw, he could work is way into wrestling in a medal match. 

Lazarev's win over Johannes Ludescher at the 2023 World Championships:

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Will Zare, Parris, Akgul, Or Petriashvili Win Gold?

I’d be absolutely shocked if anyone other than the big 4 at this weight came away with gold from Paris. Zare, Akgul, and Petriashvili have all won medals at the last 4 Worlds/Olympics and Mason Parris’ performance last year proves he’s entered this tier. So, who’s coming away with gold? I’m going with Amir Zare who now has two wins both Taha Akgul and three over Geno Petriashvili and looks to be separating himself from the rest of the world at 125 kg. I’m interested to see if Mason Parris’ athleticism and leg attacks can present a unique challenge to Zare, but in the end, I believe Zare will prove on the biggest stage that he’s the heavyweight king.

Full 125 kg Olympic Medal Predictions

Gold - Amir Zare, IRI

Silver - Mason Parris, USA

Bronze - Taha Akgul, TUR

Bronze - Geno Petriashvili, TUR