Top 20 Pound-for-Pound Men's Freestyle
Wrestling fans love to argue, especially before major tournaments. It doesn't get any bigger than the Olympics, so let's spark some debate. Behold, the 20 best pound-for-pound men's freestylers in the world.
20) Shamil Kudiyamagomedov, Russia - He may be Sadulaev's backup, but his wins at the European Championships and World Cup prove he is worthy of being on this list.
19) Bilyal Makhov, Russia - Considering how good Petriashvili and Akgul are, Makhov deserves a top-20 spot as the biggest leverage mismatch in all of wrestling.
18) Magomedrasl Gazimagomedov, Russia - His losses at 74kg dip him a bit, but he is still the defending champ at 70kg and was dealing with a severely torn knee when moving up a weight.
17) Hassan Yazdani Charati, Iran - He has bounced back strong since his silver to Gazimagomoedov. He is considered a dark horse capable of knocking off Burroughs and Geduev, though he is probably not quite there yet.
16) Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez, Cuba - The only guy in the world who can take bronze at all three of these weights: 57kg, 61kg and 65kg.
15) Magomedmurad Gadzhiev, Poland - Flying under the radar means being on a 26-match winning streak spanning two weights.
14) Reineris Salas Perez, Cuba - The two-time world silver won four tournaments this year up at 97kg and made the finals of a fifth.
13) Khetag Gazyumov, Azerbaijan - The ageless wonder has seven world or Olympic medals to his name.
12) Soslan Ramonov, Russia - He loses far too many matches to put him in the top 10, but has taken gold and bronze at the world's toughest weight class over the past two years.
11) Ainuar Gedeuv, Russia - The lack of a world title keeps him out of the top 10, but he still has multiple Euro titles to his name, and is dead-even with one of the best wrestlers in the world.
10) Geno Petriashvili, Georgia - His standings were definitely hurt by not winning Georgian Nationals and losing to Magomedov at Worlds, but he still took out Akgul, and has won several world medals.
9) Kyle Snyder, USA - He had a flawless 2015, but he dropped in the rankings for his losses to Gazyumov and Gatsalov.
8) Hassan Rahimi, Iran - He posted his only losses against world champs, and when his knees are healthy, he's a threat to win 57kg.
7) Haji Aliyev, Azerbaijan - This is where it starts getting difficult. Two-time defending world champ at 61kg is stronger and more technical than most at his weight, and yet he may not place at 57kg in Rio.
6) Anzor Boltukaev, Russia - He is the one that came out on top of a stacked 97kg field. Even though it's a small sample size, being the overwhelming favorite in your weight class means something, particularly when you demolish the world champ, two Olympic champs and the entire Euro field.
5) Frank Chamizo, Italy - The total package, he has all golds and silvers since last year's Medved. That run of consistency is impossible to match at 65kg.
4) Vladimir Khinchegashvili, Georgia - For my taste, gaps exist between numbers five and four, and then between three and two. Khinchegashvili slots in just below Akgul due to some tough losses at 61kg. But an argument can also be made that Khinchegashviili has better career wins than Taha Akgul.
3) Taha Akgul, Turkey - What separates Akgul and Khinchegashvili is world gold in 2014. If that seems negligible, remember a fully focused Akgul cannot be beaten by any heavyweight.
Akgul tech-smashes three-time world champion Bilyal Makhov
2) Jordan Burroughs, USA - Yes, Burroughs has twice as many titles as Sadulaev. But he has too many close matches to put him at No. 1. However, now that Burroughs has a leg lace, this argument is really 1A and 1B.
1) Abdulrashid Sadulaev, Russia - Since the start of 2015, The Russian Tank has only given up nine points.
Sadulaev techs European bronze medalist Odikadze at Alrosa Cup: