2022 Senior World Championships

125kg 2022 World Championships Preview: Zillmer's Tough Road To A Medal

125kg 2022 World Championships Preview: Zillmer's Tough Road To A Medal

A full preview and predictions for 125kg at the 2022 Senior World Championships.

Aug 22, 2022 by Jon Kozak
125kg 2022 World Championships Preview: Zillmer's Tough Road To A Medal

Hayden Zillmer will be Team USA’s representative at 125kg at the 2022 Senior World Championships. Zillmer will take the mat September 15-16 in Belgrade, Serbia against a field that includes 3 past world champions. Check out a full preview of this loaded weight below to see a breakdown of the projected seeds, the favorites, and all the top challengers at 125kg.

The top 8 wrestlers will be seeded at 125kg based on rankings points accumulated since the Tokyo Olympics. Of note, defending world champion Amir Zare will be the #3 seed and will likely meet 3-time world champion Taha Akgul in the semi-finals. Last year’s world and Olympic silver medalist, Geno Petriashvili will be on the opposite side as the #1 seed and a big favorite to reach the finals out of the top side of the bracket. Hayden Zillmer is notably unseeded and will be randomly drawn into the bracket.

Projected Seeds

  1. Geno Petriashvili, GEO
  2. Taha Akgul, TUR
  3. Amir Zare, IRI
  4. Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur, MGL
  5. Oleg Boltin, KAZ
  6. Gennadij Cudinovic, GER
  7. Youssif Hemida, EGY
  8. Robert Baran, POL

Favorites

The best wrestlers in the field:

Iran’s Amir Zare had a breakthrough year in 2021 after winning bronze at the Olympics and world gold in Oslo. Though he lost 6-3 in the semi-finals at the Olympics to Geno Petriashvili, Zare got revenge at the world championships with a controlling, 9-2, win over Petriashvili in the world finals. On top of that win, Zare took out Taha Akgul 4-0 in the semi-finals at worlds. After last year, and at only 21 years old, Zare looks poised to take over the heavyweight division for as long as he wants. 

However, Zare looked a bit vulnerable in his first matches back after worlds in June at the rankings tournament in Kazakhstan. There, Zare had two battles against Kazakhstan heavyweights Oleg Boltin and Yusup Batirmurzaev. Against Boltin, Zare built a 6-0 lead before holding on at the end and winning 9-7. Then in the finals against Batirmurzaev, Zare fell behind 8-0 off a takedown and 3 gut wrenches. He then stormed back to a 21-10 technical superiority victory. Are those matches a sign of weakness? Or was Zare just shaking off some rust after 8 months off? We’ll find out in Serbia when the young Iranian looks to defend his heavyweight crown!

Zare’s win over Petriashvili in the 2021 Word Finals:

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In


3-time world champion Geno Petriashvili was less than 1 second from becoming an Olympic champion until Gable Steveson pulled off one of the most amazing comebacks in history. Despite that loss, and the aforementioned one to Zare in the world finals, Petriashvili has consistently proven to be one of the best heavyweights in the world for the past 10 years - since 2013, Petriashvili has won 8 total medals at worlds/Olympics (3 golds, 2 silvers, and 3 bronze). This year, Geno won silver at the European championships before winning both the Matteo Pellicone and Tunisian rankings tournament in June and July. Beyond that, Petriashvili has the benefit of being opposite both Amir Zare and Taha Akgul giving him a clear path to make the finals. 

Petriashvili’s win over Hayden Zillmer at the rankings tournament in Tunisia:

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In


If a defending world champion and 3-time world champion weren’t enough depth for you, then you’re in luck with Olympic and 2-time world champion Taha Akgul rounding out the favorites at 125kg. Akgul won Olympic and world bronze last year and most recently took out Geno Petriashvili at the European Championships to win his 10th Euro title. Akgul will likely have to get by Zare in the semis, and while he might be the underdog to the young champion, Akgul is a crafty veteran capable of defeating anyone in the world at 125kg. 

Akgul’s win over Petriashvili at the 2022 European Championships:

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In


The Best Of The Rest

The tier of wrestlers behind the top favorites at 125kg:

With three heavy favorites, there’s not a clear 2nd and 3rd tier of wrestlers like at most of the other weights. Instead, there’s a large tier of wrestlers who will likely be vying for the only remaining bronze medal. The top of that list is Mongolia’s Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur - who came away with world bronze last year after losing to Geno Petriashvili in the first round but battling back to defeat Oleg Boltin in the bronze medal match, 5-3. Munkhtur also had a solid performance at the Tokyo Olympics, losing only to Gable Steveson and Taha Akgul - 5-0 to both wrestlers. Munkhtur also has the advantage of being the #4 seed ensuring himself opposite both Zare and Akgul. 

Munkhtur’s win over Oleg Boltin in the 2021 world bronze medal match:

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In


Olympian and 2-time All-American for Oregon State, Amar Dhesi is currently having the best year of his senior level career. In May Dhesi won a Pan-Am Championship by defeating 2-time world medalist Nick Gwiazdowski in the finals and then followed that up by winning the Commonwealth Games in August. Dhesi was a Junior World Champion in 2014 and has represented Canada at the senior world championships 2 different times (2018 and 2021) along with competing at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. That experience seems to be paying off and could result in a world medal if he performs to the best of his abilities in Serbia. 

Dhesi’s win over Gwiazdowski at the 2022 Pan-Am Championships:

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In


Hayden Zillmer was one of the biggest surprises of Final X after he took out Nick Gwiazdowski in two, come-from-behind victories. Zillmer proved that his performance wasn’t a fluke at the ranking tournament in Tunisia in July when he won silver by defeating Mohit (IND) and Alisher Yergali (KAZ). There he lost only to Geno Petriashvili in 2 competitive matches - 8-4 and 8-2. Because Zillmer will not be seeded, his best chances of medaling at the world championships lie in being drawn on the top side opposite Zare and Akgul. 

Hayden Zillmer’s win over Alisher Yergali at the rankings tournament in Tunisia:

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In


Kazakhstan has three potential heavyweight reps in Alisher Yergali, Yusup Batirmurzaev, and Oleg Boltin. As mentioned above, Batirmurzaev and Boltin had competitive losses to defending world champ Amir Zare in June. Then in July, Alisher Yergali defeated Batirmurzaev twice (2-1 and 5-1) to come away with bronze at the ranking series tournament in Tunisia. None of the 3 have enough rankings points to earn a seed in the top 8 but all have the potential to challenge for a medal.

Yergali's win over Batirmurzaev at the Tunisia rankings tournament:

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In


Poland’s Robert Baran failed to medal at the 2021 World Championships but has had an excellent 2022 winning bronze at Euros, silver at the Matteo Pellicone, and gold at both the Grand Prix of Spain and Ziolkowski. On top of that, Baran has notable head to head wins over Abraham Conyedo (ITA - Olympic bronze), Nick Gwiazdowski (USA), Kamil Kosciolek (POL), Gennadij Cudinovic (GER), Jamaladdin Magomedov (AZE), and Aiaal Lazarev (KGZ). Unfortunately for Baran, he’s set to be on the same side as Taha Akgul and Amir Zare - meaning he’ll likely have to defeat at least one of those wrestlers to earn a medal at worlds. 

Robert Baran’s win over Abraham Conyedo for bronze at the 2022 European Championships:

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In


China’s Zhiwei Deng is a 2-time world medalist winning world silver in 2018 and bronze in 2019. Despite those accomplishments, Deng took 10 months off after placing 5th at the Olympics and looked rusty in his return at the Ziolkowski tournament in July. There, Deng failed to place and lost to Derek White and Yuny Idzinksy (UKR). Nothing against those wrestlers, however, Deng at his peak would be heavily favored to win those matches. Deng is likely still rounding into form and should perform much better at the world championships - because of that, he should not be underestimated in Serbia.

Deng's win over Gwiazdowski at the 2018 World Championships:


Uzbekistan’s Khasanboy Rakhimov is the final wrestler worth mentioning as a threat to medal at the world championships. Rakhimov won a bronze medal at the 2019 world championships before testing positive for a banned substance and receiving a two-year competition ban. Prior to that ban, Rakhimov had two wins over Gable Steveson - a pin at the 2018 Junior World Championships and a tech at the 2019 Medved. More recently at the Yasar Dogu, Rakhimov defeated Alisher Yergali before losing to Germany’s Gennadij Cudinovic. So the question is - how close is Rakhimov to the wrestler who defeated Gable Steveson? If that Rakhimov is back, he’s capable of making a deep run at worlds. 

Rakhimov’s win over Gable Steveson at the 2018 Junior World Championships:


Predictions

Amir Zare proved last year that he was the best heavyweight in the world not named Gable Steveson. Is Zare back to 100% after the prolonged lay-off? That’s the question that will assuredly be answered in Serbia but, for me, Zare’s performance in Kazakhstan gives me pause on picking him to win gold this year. Because of that, my pick to win gold at 125kg is Geno Petriashvili based on his clear path to make the finals and his proven track record of peaking for worlds. Petriashvili has already proven capable of defeating Zare and should be highly motivated for revenge after his silvers at both the Olympics and worlds.

Full medal predictions for 125kg at the 2022 World Championships:

Gold: Geno Petriashvili, GEO

Silver: Amir Zare, IRI

Bronze: Taha Akgul, TUR

Bronze: Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur, MGL


Get to know the 125kg 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.