The Russian Tank moved up a weight, and still rolled through everyone... until the finals. Abdulrashid Sadulaev teched his way to those Russian Nationals finals up at 97kg, potentially setting up a supermatch with Kyle Snyder at the world championships this August.
Finals: Sadulaev dec. Baitsaev, 8-7
Heading into the finals, the two-time world champ and Rio Olympic gold medalist spent just 10:22 on the mat, outscoring his opponents 41-0. Then came an incredible finals match with Vladislav Baitsaev, a 2x European championships medalist who won Yarygin last year at heavyweight. It is rare that opponents get to Sadulaev's legs, but Baitsaev did multiple times in this match.
Baitsaev had Sadulaev in a hole early, going up 4-0 on a takedown and caution and two. It could also be argued that Sadulaev should have been hit with another caution and two around the 5:25 mark, when he jumped out of bounds as Baitsaev had started a leglace. Sadulaev ultimately won on a shot clock point at the five minute mark, providing the final margin of victory in an 8-7 battle.
Sadulaev gave up more points in that final than he did combined at the 2014 world championships (3), 2015 world championships (2) and 2016 Olympics (1). He is known for having the best freestyle gut wrench in the world, and hit it multiple times on every opponent, including Baitsaev. But it is rare for guys to go on the clock with 90 seconds left when 12 points have already been scored.
Sadulaev 97kg ResultsR32: 10-0 Over Yuri Belonovski (5:07
R16: 10-0 over Umar Kulduev (0:57)
QF: 10-0 over Stanislav Gadzhiev (1:27)
SF: 11-0 over Tamerlan Rasuev (2:51)
Finals: 8-7 over Vladislav Baitsaev