2022 Senior World Championships

79kg 2022 World Championship Preview: Burroughs Going For Record 7th Gold

79kg 2022 World Championship Preview: Burroughs Going For Record 7th Gold

A full preview and predictions for 79kg at the 2022 Senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

Aug 11, 2022 by Jon Kozak
79kg 2022 World Championship Preview: Burroughs Going For Record 7th Gold

Jordan Burroughs will represent the United States at 79kg on September 15-16 in Belgrade, Serbia in what will be his 10th world championship. Burroughs will also be looking to defend his 79kg world title from 2021 and win his record-setting 7th gold medal. Take a look below to see a preview of the best wrestlers in this field looking to challenge Burroughs at the world championships. 

The top 8 wrestlers will be seeded at the world championships this year based on rankings points accumulated since last summer. Burroughs will be the #1 seed with last year’s world silver medalist, Mohammad Nokhodi, as the #2 seed. Burroughs biggest test on the way to the finals will likely be against Nika Kentchadze - a 2021 world bronze medalist. 

Projected Top 8 Seeds:

  1. Jordan Burroughs, USA
  2. Mohammad Nokhodi, IRI
  3. Georgios Kougioumtsidis, GRE 
  4. Arman Avagyan, ARM
  5. Vladimeri Gamkrelidze, GEO
  6. Ashraf Ashirov, AZE
  7. Muhammet Akdeniz, TUR
  8. Saifedine Alekma, FRA

Favorites

The best wrestlers in the field:

Jordan Burroughs is once again the favorite to win gold this year at 79kg against a very similar field from the 2021 world championships. Last year, Burroughs took out Mohammad Nokhodi in the finals in a controlling, 5-1 decision. On his way to the finals, Burroughs also had wins over Samuel Barmish (CAN), Radik Valiev (RUS), and Ryuki Yoshida (JPN). With Russia out of this year’s world championships, Burroughs should cruise to the finals for a likely rematch with Nokhodi. 

Burroughs’ win over Nokhodi from last year’s world finals:

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While Mohammad Nokhodi lost to Burroughs last year, he should still be considered a threat to win a world title this year. Nokhodi is only 21 years old and likely still entering the prime of his career. At the recent rankings tournament in Tunisia, Nokhodi showed major improvements and secured an impressive 10-0 technical superiority victory over Chance Marsteller on his way to winning gold. The question now-has Nokhodi improved enough to take out Jordan Burroughs? 

Nokhodi’s recent win over Marsteller:

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Contenders

The group with the most potential to medal or challenge the favorites:

Bekzod Abdurakhmonov won an Olympic bronze medal last year in Tokyo and then took an extended layoff before returning to the mat 86kg. Bekzod had moderate success up two weights and won bronze medals at the Yasar Dogu in February and the Islamic Solidarity Games in March. Now registered at 79kg for Uzbekistan, Abdurakhmonov should be competitive with the best at this weight and is notably the only wrestler in this field to have a win over Jordan Burroughs - 11-1 back at the 2016 Olympics. That win is also the only time Burroughs has been teched in any of his 230 senior-level matches! Simply put, if Bekzod is wrestling at his best, he can come away with gold from Serbia.

Bekzod's win over Burroughs from the 2016 Olympics:


Kazakhstan’s Bolat Sakayev has emerged as a recent contender after winning the June rankings tournament in Kazakhstan and placing silver at the July rankings tournament in Tunisia. At those tournaments, Sakayev had wins over Chance Marsteller, Baliyan Gourav (IND), and Akhsarbek Gulaev (SVK). Sakayev will be unseeded and randomly drawn into the bracket in Serbia making him a huge potential wildcard.

Sakayev’s recent win over Chance Marsteller:

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The final contender worth mentioning is Ukraine’s Vasyl Mykhailov. He recently won the Matteo Pellicone in June and the Ziolkowski tournament in July. At both of those events, Mykhailov had notable wins over Georgios Kougioumtsidis (GRE, 2022 Euro Champ), David McFadden, and Arman Avagyan (ARM, 2021 world 5th).

Check out Mykhailov’s win over Euro Champ Georgios Kougioumtsidis:

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Sleepers And Landmines

The group that isn't projected to medal right now but has big potential to "blow up" the bracket:

  • Ashraf Ashirov, AZE
  • Arsalan Budazhapov, KGZ
  • Baliyan Gourav, IND
  • Iakub Shikhdzhamalov, ROU
  • Georgios Kougioumtsidis, GRE
  • Akhsarbek Gulaev, SVK

The above wrestlers would be surprise medalists but have all had notable wins and performances over the past year that prove they could make noise at the world championships. Georgios Kougioumtsidis was the most surprising gold medalist at the European Championships but failed to place at the next two international tournaments he competed at. Similarly, Akhsarbek Gulaev won the 2021 European Championships but went 0-1 at the 2021 World Championships. Kougioumtsidis will be the #3 seed while Gulaev will be unseeded at worlds - both could make a deep run or go 0-1. That unpredictability is what makes them a sleeper.

Watch Kougioumtsidis’ win over Ashirov in the European Championship finals:

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Arsalan Budazhapov and Baliyan Gourav will also be wildcards in this bracket. Gourav won silver and the 2022 Asian Championships where he edged out Budazhapov (eventual Asian bronze medalist) in the semis, 8-5, before losing to Ali Savadkoui in the finals, 9-9. Despite the impressive performance at Asians, both Gourav and Budazhapov failed to place at the June ranking tournament in Kazakhstan. 

Watch Gourav’s win over Budazhapov at the Asian Championships:

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Ashraf Ashirov and Iakub Shikhdzhamalov are the final two sleepers in this bracket to keep an eye on at worlds. Ashirov burst onto the scene by winning a silver medal at the 2022 European Championships. Ashirov’s most notable win at Euros was a 10-0 tech over 2021 world 5th place finisher Arman Avagyan. Shikhdzhamalov has placed at three consecutive senior-level tournaments winning silver at the Matteo Pellicone, bronze at the Grand Prix of Spain, and gold at the Simon Memorial in Romania. Shikhdzhamalov won’t be seeded at worlds but has the potential to make a deep run and bring home a medal.

Shikhdzhamalov's win over Gulaev:

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Predictions

Jordan Burroughs is the favorite coming into the world championships and my pick to come away with gold once again this year. Burroughs proved last year he was the best wrestler in the world at 79kg and no other contender has emerged as a clear threat to knock him off his throne. It will be interesting to see how guys like Nokhodi and Kentchadze are able to challenge Burroughs in new ways this year or if any sleeper can break through and take out the returning medalists.

Medal predictions for 79kg at the 2022 World Championships:

Gold: Jordan Burroughs, USA

Silver: Mohammad Nokhodi, IRI

Bronze: Akhsarbek Gulaev, SVK

Bronze: Bekzod Abudrakhmonov, UZB


Get to know the 79kg field even better by looking at our World Championships Rankings - a ranking of the top 10 guys in every weight class based on head-to-head wins.