2021 UWW Ranking Series: Matteo Pellicone

The 9 Best Matches That Could Go Down At The Matteo Pellicone

The 9 Best Matches That Could Go Down At The Matteo Pellicone

A list of the nine men’s freestyle matches we're praying go down in Rome this weekend.

Mar 3, 2021 by JD Rader
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NCAA wrestling isn’t the only thing going down this weekend. The first UWW Rankings Series event is here and it’s going to be fun. With this tournament going towards the 2021 World Championship seeding, a lot of the big guns are coming out.

Watch the 2021 Matteo Pellicone Live on FloWrestling

Thursday, March 4 - Sunday, March 7

Below is a list of the nine men’s freestyle matches we're praying go down in Rome this weekend.

#1) 74 kg: #4 Jordan Burroughs vs #6 Frank Chamizo

Ah yes, one of the greatest rivalries of the past decade in freestyle wrestling. Many will say it can’t be considered a rivalry when Jordan Burroughs leads the series 4-1, but they’re wrong. Burroughs has a large advantage, no doubt, but it’s far from an automatic win for the American. Even with the large advantage for Burroughs, the JB offense + Chamizo defense stylistic matchup makes this match entertaining every time. Just watch their 2018 World bronze medal match.

Watch Jordan Burroughs and Frank Chamizo’s incredible World bronze medal match below.

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#2) 57 kg: Nick Suriano vs #12 Nurislam Sanayev

Nick Suriano had a great showing at the Henri Deglane. He defeated two of Azerbaijan’s top 57s and outperformed Thomas Gilman and Vito Arujau en route to a gold medal. However, Nurislam Sanayev would be his biggest test yet. The Kazakhstani is currently the #12 ranked 57 kg in the world and has earned a medal in the past two World Championships. A win for Suriano here would cement him as not only a legit threat to make the US Olympic Team, but to bring home a medal as well.


#3) 125 kg: #1 Taha Akgul vs #3 Amin Taheri

Taha Akgul has been either the best heavyweight or the second-best heavyweight in the World for almost the entire last decade. Already a three-time World and Olympic champion, Akgul has already more than established himself. Amin Taheri, on the other hand, is a young up and comer. After winning two U23 World medals, Taheri really made a splash when he defeated Amire Zare and Parviz Hadi at Iran’s world team wrestling-offs. Zare defeated Geno Petriashvili in 2019 and Hadi beat Akgul 2018. So, can the young Iranian add legend Taha Akgul to his hit list?


#4) 61 kg: #6 Ravi Kumar vs #4 Suleyman Atli

Two top ten guys at 57 kg, both of these wrestlers brought home medals in 2019; Atli silver and Kumar bronze. Both big for the weight, they are competing at 61 here. This is interesting considering it is once again an Olympic year. Kumar had an impressive 2020 Matteo Pellicone winning gold, taking out Sanayev in the process.

Watch Ravi Kumar and Nurislam Sanayev face off at the 2020 Matteo Pellicone below.

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#5) 86 kg: #9 Zahid Valencia vs Mark Hall

Zahid Valencia vs Mark Hall was one of the most electric college rivalries. Zahid had just three losses in college. Two of those losses were to Mark Hall and one kept him from winning the national title as a freshman. The rivalry switched over to freestyle in 2019 when the two met at the 2019 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. Zahid came away with a 5-0 decision. Zahid also owns the last victory in freestyle and has looked great on the senior circuit since 2019 whereas Mark Hall just dropped a match to Nate Jackson. Mark Hall did rebound with an undefeated performance at America’s Cup. Can he continue his streak and turn the tables in the Zahid rivalry?


#6) 74 kg: #4 Jordan Burroughs vs Franklin Gomez

Apparently this rivalry goes all the way back to the two's New Jersey high school days. After taking a long hiatus it ramped back up at the 2019 Pan Am Games in a crazy tight match where Jordan had to score in the final second to win. Jordan is now 3-0 against Gomez, but there is no love lost in this rivalry. The two regularly get chippy.

Watch Jordan Burroughs and Franklin Gomez get chippy at the 2020 Pan Am Championships below

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#7) 86 kg: #9 Zahid Valencia vs #11 Myles Martin

This rivalry confirmed does go all the way back to high school when the two wrestled at Who’s #1. Zahid has owned this rivalry going undefeated in both high school and so far on the senior level. The two last met at the 2019 Senior Nationals with Zahid winning 7-5. Don’t let this history let you dismiss Myles Martin though. People forget that MyMar is currently ranked #11 in the world at 86 kg, but it’s true. The Ohio State grad has had a good past 12 months winning both the Henri Deglane and Flo 8-Man 196lb Tournament.


#8) 97 kg: #9 Sharif Sharifov vs #19 Reineras Salas

Olympic and World champion, Sharif Sharifov is a legend. He is the only person to walk that earth that has beaten Cael Sanderson, Kyle Snyder, and J’den Cox. A three-time World medalist, Reineris Salas is no slouch himself. While both of these wrestlers might be a year or two past their prime, one should never pass up the opportunity to watch legends of the sport.

Watch Sharif Sharifov defeat Cael Sanderson below.

2011 Worlds: Sharifov(AZE) vs Sanderson(USA)

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#9) 65 kg: #5 Bajrang Punia vs Benham Ehsanpoor

We have all come to know and love India’s Bajrang Punia over the past couple of years thanks to his willingness to compete and the pace with which he competes at. A three-time World medalist, Bajrang currently sits at #5 on the world 65 kg ladder. You might be less familiar with Benham Ehsanpoor. Ehsanpoor has held the Iranian 61 kg spot for the past handful of years and finally won a World medal in 2019. He’s also won Asians twice and way back in 2012 won a Junior World gold medal. While Bajrang will be a heavy favorite, maybe even likely by bonus points on paper, it will be interesting to see Ehsanpoor compete against the best at 65 kg.