Top Five Surprises of Men's Freestyle

Top Five Surprises of Men's Freestyle

Unpredictability is one reason our sport is such a spectacle at major championships. Upsets and surprise winners littered the brackets in Las Vegas. This causes some disappointment as anticipated matches don’t happen, but what causes more of a buzz in the arena than a big favorite taking a loss early in the tournament? Were these your top five surprises as well?



5. Unknown Uzbeki Storms to the Finals
Ikhtiyor Navruzov (UZB) turned in his highest placement of the year in Las Vegas. Not many people show up at the World Championships and place higher than they have at any other international tournament all year long. In fact, the last time Navruzov made a final was October of 2013 at the International D.A. Kunaev Tournament. In four appearances at the World Championships and Olympic Games prior to Las Vegas his best finish was 9th.

This year he had his best finish at Yasar Dogu in March. He finished fifth, losing to Mustafa Kaya (TUR) in the semi-final, 12-1, before dropping a 10-0 technical fall to Aghahuseyn Mustafayev (AZE). Ruslan Pliev represented Uzbekistan at the Asian Championships in Doha in favor of Navruzov.

Nothing leading up to the World Championships indicated Navruzov would be a medal threat. A technical fall over Jason Afrikaner (NAM) and 9-0 decision of Tital Dzhafarian (UKR) set Navruzov up to take on returning bronze medalist Mandakhnar Ganzorig (MGL). Navruzov hit a big headlock after getting out of position for four point. Ganzorig scored on a step out point before an odd exchange that ended the match. Navruzov double legged Ganzorig and they rolled the whole way back up to their feet. Navruzov took Ganzorig to the mat a second time in a more traditional double leg finish. The score showed 10-3 on the board meaning Navruzov was confirmed for four points on the first double with two-point counter exposure for Ganzorig. Navruzov then scored two more points for the second finish. Ganzorig challenged the call. After the challenge they scored it four points for feet to back exposure for Navruzov and a two-point takedown. The lost challenge point made it an 11-1 technical fall for Navruzov.

In the semi-final Navruzov took on reigning World Champion Soslan Ramonov (RUS). The Russian scored quickly on an armdrag takedown. Navruzov hooked Ramonov’s leg on a gut wrench attempt and hip heisted to a double gravine finish. The fall was confirmed just thirty-five seconds into the bout.

Another surprise finalist took Navruzov out in a thrilling match to win the title. Even though he came up short of a gold medal Ikhtiyor Navruzov had to thrill Uzbeki fans with his silver medal finish.



4. Salas Was Surprising in a Bad Way 
Reineris Salas Perez (CUB) made the list of surprises for the exact opposite reason of everyone else, he lost. He was a returning two-time silver medalist. He didn’t draw into those silver medals either. In back-to-back years he knocked off respected Iranians Mohammad Mohammadian and Ehsan Lashgari en route to the championship match. He has been a solid number two since the emergence of Abdulrashid Sadulaev (RUS). I don’t think anyone saw Salas Perez dropping his first match, but he did exactly that.

Pedro Francisco Ceballos Fuentes of Venezuela was the draw for Salas Perez. The Venezuelan dropped a match in the final this year to Salas Perez at the Central American and Caribbean Games. That was a 4-0 victory for the Cuban. The two didn’t match up at the Pan Am Games in July because Ceballos Fuentes dropped his first match to 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist Jaime Espinal of Puerto Rico. The Cuban star won the championship over Jake Herbert as Ceballos Fuentes finished seventh. Another opponent Ceballos Fuentes wrestled this year that American fans will be familiar with is Chris Perry. Perry defeated Ceballos Fuentes 7-2 at the Pan Am Championships. All of this history would make you believe Salas Perez would have an easy time advancing. Give credit to Ceballos Fuentes though. He wrestled a tactical match and converted two leg attacks cleanly to build a 4-0 lead. A step out and shot clock violation drew Salas Perez within two points with just ten seconds remaining. Salas Perez tied the match with a double leg, but Ceballos Fuentes held criteria. Salas Perez’s tournament ended two rounds later when the Venezuelan dropped his quarterfinal match to Selim Yasar (TUR).



3. Bracket Busters
The bottom bracket at 61kg had five top ten ranked wrestlers drawn into it. Three more were drawn into the top bracket and two guys in the top ten were not their country’s representative at the World Championships. Included in the mass of talent in the bottom bracket was number one Aleksander Bogomoev (RUS), number four Beka Lomtadze (GEO), and number five Behnam Ehsanpoor (IRI). All five of the top ten ranked guys failed to make the semi-final. Two guys did all the destruction Vasyl Shuptar of Ukraine and Nomin Batbold of Mongolia.

If you were to look through the bracket and pick the absolute worst place to draw into the bracket, you will find Vasyl Shuptar’s name on that line. In the opening round he drew Ehsanpoor who was the 2015 Asian Championship silver medalist and ranked number five coming into the tournament. Shuptar used a throw by and double leg to a body lock to build a 4-0 lead. Ehsanpoor converted a leg attack and two gut wrenches to storm back to a 6-4 lead. Shuptar answered with a four-point feet to back exposure. Desperation set in for the Iranian in the closing seconds and a failed takedown attempt lead to a fall in 5:59.

Congratulations on the big win. Now you get World number one, Aleksander Bogomoev. Shuptar trailed Bogomoev late in the match on criteria as the score was knotted at two. Things looked bleak for Shuptar as Bogomoev lifted a single leg clear of the mat with short time remaining. Bogomoev held position and did not force a finish or step out with the leg lifted. The referee restarted the action and Shuptar took advantage. He was able to get to a body lock and force a step out. Bogomoev challenged the call and gave up an additional point. Shuptar advanced with a 4-2 win. Shuptar set up his semi-final bout with Batbold when he took out tenth ranked Muenir Aktas (TUR) 2-0 in the quarterfinal.

Batbold’s quarter of the bracket wasn’t the gauntlet that Shuptar went through, but it wasn’t an easy side by any stretch of the imagination. He opened with 2014 Asian Games silver medalist Bajrang of India. He rang up a 10-0 technical fall and never gave Bajrang a chance on top where he is so lethal. Batbold then defeated Reece Humphrey, who had a nice win in the opening round. That was a 6-0 decision for Batbold.

The quarterfinal against fourth ranked Beka Lomtadze was one of the more entertaining matches of the tournament. Batbold fell behind 4-0 early in the first period. A takedown and exposure for Batbold gave him the 4-4 lead heading into the break. Lomtadze reestablished his lead with a step out shortly into the second period. Batbold sealed the match with a flurry with one minute to go in the bout. He hit a cross-knee pick from a two on one to score a takedown. That was followed by a four-point chin whip when Lomtadze got to his legs. Batbold moved to the semi-final with a 10-5 win.

Some fans might have been let down with a Batbold/Shuptar semi-final out of this bottom half. Those fans quickly reconsidered when the action got underway. In the first eighteen seconds Batbold attempted an arm throw and they exchanged in a body lock situation. Shuptar came out of the flurry of action leading 2-1 after the challenge. Batbold was successful finishing leg attacks on Shuptar when other opponents could not. He is very good giving a limp knee and kicking out the front side. The key exchange in the second period saw Batbold convert a single leg by peeking to a body lock . After the takedown he scored another two points on a gut wrench. Batbold moved onto the final against reigning champion Haji Aliev (AZE).

The cinderella story for Batbold came to an end in the final. Haji Aliev was too much as he scored the 10-0 technical fall. The final outcome doesn’t take away anything Shuptar and Batbold were able to accomplish in the bottom bracket. The story also had a good outcome for Shuptar as he defeated Bajrang for a bronze medal. Although Batbold wrestled down at 57kg for this year’s Yarygin, he verbally told us he would be going to 65kg to try to unseed Ganzorig for the Olympic spot.



2. King Kyle
I hate putting Kyle Snyder in the surprises article. A lot of people, including myself, felt Snyder had a solid chance to medal or even knock off one of the big guns at the weight. Even though many thought it could happen, knocking off the reigning World Champion as a nineteen year old is surprising.

Abdusalam Gadisov (RUS) got knocked down to number two in the rankings this year when he lost to long time mainstay Khetag Gazumov (AZE) in the European semi-final. Gadisov retook the thunder in that rivalry with a 5-0 win in the quarterfinals. Russia, particularly Dagestan, is happy. Their guy is back on top, and all is right in the world. I mean Georgi Gogaev defeated this American in Juniors last year. He is going to win his second straight World Title and carry a lot of momentum into the RIo Olympic Games. Kyle Snyder had different plans for the Gold Medal match.

In the finale Snyder impressed me so many ways. Early on in the match he was patient when put on the shot clock as he stuck to his strategy. Snyder got on the board with a caution point just before the break. The attack that allowed Snyder to score was a nice adjust on his part. He had missed several ankle picks to both sides. Gadisov was easily stepping out of them. Snyder had a left hand collar tie and Gadisov felt safe with his left foot back out of danger. This time Snyder attacked the cross ankle and was able to get Gadisov off balance for the caution and one point as he fled out of bounds.

Snyder extended the lead when he hit the ankle pick back to Gadisov’s left leg, thirteen seconds into the second period for a takedown. Gadisov easily scored to regain the lead just seconds later. Snyder had a chance for doubt to creep into his mind, but he showed composure well beyond his years. With the score tied at three he gave up an inconsequential step out point rather than fight himself into bad position. Snyder wore on Gadisov controlling collar ties and constantly snapping the head. Only twenty seconds remained when Snyder cleared his wrist and took a low single when it looked like Gadisov expected another head pull. Snyder converted the takedown uncontested for the 5-4 lead. Knowing he would still hold the edge in criteria Snyder gave up a meaningless step out and won the bout 5-5. What a performance.



1. Italian Gold Haul
Frank Chamizo has an undeniable wealth of talent. He also has struggled to find consistency. In 2010 an eighteen year old Chamizo finished 16th at the Junior World Championships at 55kg. It happened to be one of the best Junior World weights ever in my opinion, but we’ll talk about that at another time. Even with the talent at the Junior level Chamizo failed to get close to the podium. Two months after the Junior World Championships Frank Chamizo found himself on the podium receiving a bronze medal at the Senior level for Cuba. Those aren’t results that are synced up.

In 2011 he was unable to follow-up with another medal as he fell to the World Champion, Viktor Lebedev, on the Championship side and Armenian, Mihran Jaburyan in the repechage. This World Championship would be the last time Chamizo represented Cuba on the international stage. He defected to Italy and began competing in 2013. However, 2015 was his debut at World’s for Italy. Not only did he bear a new three letter code across his back in ‘13, but he also found a new weight class at 66kg. 66kg is now a defunct weight class in men’s freestyle. After 2013 Chamizo moved to the correlating weight class of 65kg.

This year Chamizo started to find more consistency and had some great wins. Chamizo’s only tournament off the podium this year was at Medved Prizes in March. Chamizo finished seventh, but his losses were to Kurbanaliev (RUS) and Ganzorig (MGL). Those are quality opponents so the seventh place finish isn’t a huge black mark on the resume. He had two second place finishes this year and claimed two titles. He was runner-up at the European Games. He was pinned in that final by Toghrul Asgarov (AZE). The other runner-up finish came at the Grand Prix of Spain. There Chamizo wrestled up at 70kg. James Green defeated him in the final 8-6 in a long drawn out match. Chamizo’s two titles came at the Under 23 European Championships and at the Ziolkowskie Memorial in Poland. Chamizo picked up two quality wins en route to the title at the Ziolkowskie. First round he defeated 2014 World Champions Soslan Ramonov (RUS) 4-3 and George Bucur (ROU) 3-3 in the final. At the Under 23 European Championship a key win for Chamizo was over Azeri Magomed Muslimov. It was a back forth affair that Chamizo won 12-11 with a takedown in the closing seconds. A nice year for Chamizo, but he certainly wasn’t considered one of the favorites leading up the the championships in Las Vegas.

Chamizo came into World’s ranked fifth by United World Wrestling. When the draw was released it seemed like really long odds for Chamizo to make the finals. His potential route to the finals went through Gadzhiev (POL) #2 at 70kg, Asgarov #3 at 65kg, and #1 Mohammadi (IRI). That exact route played out as the bracket unfolded. The only problem for the rest of the field was that Frank Chamizo didn’t get the memo that he wasn’t supposed to win.

Chamizo’s opening bout against Gadzhiev was a slow pace match that saw both guys on the shot clock. Chamizo scored a takedown countering Gadzhiev’s attack as the shot clock wound down. In the second period the score closed to 2-1 when Chamizo was unable to score while on the thirty second shot clock. Gadzhiev was able to get into a deep high crotch situation, but an underhook on the trail arm allowed Chamizo to scramble out of the attack. As Gadzhiev came to his feet Chamizo chased down a counter single leg for a 4-1 lead. Chamizo gave up two step out points as he protected the lead in the closing seconds. Chamizo moved on with a 4-3 win.

Chamizo took out Ju-Song Kim (PRK) in the round of 32 to set up a rematch of the European Games final with Toghrul Asgarov. Asgarov pinned Chamizo at the European Games. Early in the match Chamizo climbed up to a body lock from a double leg to score a four-point throw. Asgarov rolled through and came up on top of Chamizo with a tight headlock. Chamizo fought off the fall and continued his surprising domination of the 2012 Olympic Champion. The final tally was 10-5 in favor of Chamizo.

The gauntlet continued for Chamizo as he matched up with number one ranked Sayed Ahmad Mohammadi (IRI). Mohammadi was a silver medalist at the 2014 championships and seeking his first World Title. Two minutes into the bout Mohammadi had controlled the pace, ties, scrambles, and held a 2-0 lead. Chamizo received his second passivity warning with just over thirty seconds to go in the opening period. Chamizo attacked on a head outside single and got to Mohammadi’s right leg. Chamizo climbed the arm and moved to a headlock when Mohammadi attempted to counter expose Chamizo with a chest wrap. The fall was secured and Chamizo was the second surprise finalist at 65kg.

In the final Chamizo faced an unheralded Uzbeki that laid waste to the top of the bracket. You read about him in our first story. Ikhtiyor Navruzov showed his march to the finals was no fluke. Chamizo held a 2-1 lead late in the match on the strength of a counter leg attack takedown midway through the second period. Navruzov snapped Chamizo right into his leg, but was able to turn the corner and finish a go ahead takedown with only eighteen seconds left in the match. A mad flurry from the bottom position gave Chamizo the opportunity to win the match in the closing seconds. Chamizo stepped behind Navruzov’s leg as he held onto a high chestlock. Chamizo drove through and scored the winning two points inside the final ten seconds. Frank Chamizo had the most improbable run of the 2015 championships. His Gold Medal was the first Italian World Gold in Freestyle wrestling. 

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FloWrestling Login Procedures

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Hello wrestling fans! If you are experiencing difficulty logging in to our updated website, it maybe because, for security purposes, the site no longer recognizes usernames. Please use your email address to login.

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