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This Monday, two-time NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis will take on the world's #1 ranked wrestler at 65kg, Bajrang Punia of India. It will be the second-to-last match of this year's Beat the Streets: Grapple at the Garden card.
Monday May 6 | 6:00 PM Eastern
It will be an excellent test for the U.S. Open champion, who is now sitting in Final X: Rutgers on June 8th. The two-time Cadet world champ will have his hands full with Bajrang, who has made the finals of 13 of the past 15 tournaments he's entered, winning nine of them.
Here's some stats on one of the best wrestlers in the history of his country:
- 2018 world silver, 65kg
- 2013 world bronze, 60kg
- 2017 U23 world silver, 65kg
- 2018 Asian Games gold, 65kg
- 2014 Asian Games silver, 61kg
- 5 Asian championships medals
This year, he's won the Dan Kolov ranking series event, the Asian championships, and most recently, the Ali Aliyev tournament in Kaspiysk, Dagestan. His opponent in the Kolov finals? Jordan Oliver.
The only two tournaments where he hasn't made the finals were the 2018 Asian championships, where he was bronze, and the 2017 senior world championships, where he did not place. Otherwise though, he has been one of the most consistently dominant wrestlers in the world.
What makes him so dangerous? In large part, his pace. He frequently overwhelms opponents in the second period and runs them into the ground. It presents a fascinating matchup with Yianni, as he is sometimes most dangerous when he is being shot on, and also provide an opportunity for him to improve upon his leg defense. After the Open finals, he said the biggest thing he needs to work on is not letting guys get to his legs, which Bajrang is better at than almost anyone in the world at 65kg.
It will be a little different rate of offense than what Yianni's probably used to from his folkstyle season and what he faced last weekend at the Open. What he won't get a lot of is top game, as Bajrang doesn't have much of a leglace or gut wrench to speak of. Honestly, the key to counteracting Bajrang's pace might be to keep shooting, as he does not have highly elite leg defense for a world silver medalist.