Mohammadian Closes Olympic Ticket for Iran; USA Shines at Poland Open

By Vinay Siwach

WARSAW, Poland (June 8) -- Mohammadhossein MOHAMMADIAN (IRI) had to wait until the final bout of the day but it was worth it as he successfully captured the gold medal at the Poland Open Ranking Series event in Warsaw.

The value of this gold medal increased as he also won the right to represent Iran at the Tokyo Olympics after beating two of his compatriots during his title-winning run on Tuesday.

Poland Open

Iran is treating the Poland Open as a selection tournament for the three freestyle and one Greco-Roman weight classes.

At 97kg, Mohammadian captured the spot after he beat Alireza Mohammad KARIMIMACHIANI (IRI) and Ali Khalil SHABANIBENGAR (IRI) with little separation in both the bouts.

“Thank God I was able to win,” Mohammadian said. “This is not the biggest day for me but I am happy.”

Apart from Iran's selection, the Tokyo seeds were confirmed in three weight classes as the final ranking points for 57kg, 86kg and 97kg were finalized on Tuesday.

Mohammadian's gold may not have been enough for a seed in the weight class at the Olympics, but it ended a long wait of Iran finalizing the wrestler at the weight. He won the quota in dominating fashion at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in April.

But Shabanibengar's wins over him earlier this year and Karmimachiani's record at 92kg made them contenders as well. Instead of hosting a trial back home, the Iranian Federation decided to send the wrestler to Warsaw for a face-off. The winner would be selected for the Olympic team.

The stage was set when Karimimachiani and Mohammadian were drawn on the same side while Shabanibengar was split to the upper half. Mohammadian began with an 11-0 thrashing of Kollin MOORE (USA) in the qualification, while Karimimachiani overcame Abraham de Jesus CONYEDO RUANO (ITA), 11-1, in the quarterfinal. Earlier in the day, the Italian upset Olympic champion Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE) for a 2-2 criteria win.

Mohammadian's 10-0 win over Serik BAKYTKHANOV (KAZ) put him in the semifinal. He began with a takedown and secured a 2-0 lead. Karimimachiani's one point for passivity and a step out tied it 2-2, but Mohammadian held the criteria to set up a final against Shabanibengar.

It was anti-climatic as both wrestlers played it safe. They exchanged a point each for passivity but it was Mohammadian who was awarded one in the second period which gave him the win.

“I have been wrestling with Shabanibengar since cadet-level and I know his style,” he said. “Before becoming here I had strategized a lot and thankfully it paid off.”

At 57kg, Serbian Olympian Stevan MICIC (SRB) won his second Ranking Series gold medal in convincing fashion. He outscored Beka BUJIASHVILI (GEO) and Makhmudjon SHAVKATOV (UZB), 18-3, and was awarded the 57kg Nordic style gold medal.

Micic, who came into the tournament at the third-seeded wrestler for the Tokyo Olympic Games, passed second-seeded Sueyman ATLI (TUR) for the second spot in Tokyo.

“I felt really good today,” he said. “At this tournament, I just wanted to get my weight down to 57kg and go to the Olympics after a strong competition. The gold medal is always a boost in confidence.”

The top-four seeds at 57kg for Tokyo are Zavur UGUEV (RUS), Micic, Suleyman ATLI (TUR) and Ravi KUMAR (IND), respectively.

“I wasn't sure about the seeds so it was better to just compete,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in my ability and it doesn't matter where I am seeded. I will have four tough matches in order to win at the Olympics.”

Micic defeated Beka BUJIASHVILI (GEO) and Makhmudjon SHAVKATOV (UZB) in the two matches to win the gold medal.

Stevan MICIC

USA also had a field day as they captured two gold medals. Zahid VALENCIA (USA) added another Ranking Series gold as he dominated the 86kg weight category.

“I started off a little bit slow but I am happy with how I ended it,” he said. “More offense, more takedowns is what I am looking for.”

Valencia survived a scare against local boy Sebastian JEZIERZANSKI (POL) and won 6-5 before an injury default by world silver medalist Deepak PUNIA (IND) gave him a spot in the semifinal. Myles AMINE (SMR) was up next in the semifinal but Valencia had an easy 7-1 win.

In the 86kg finals, Zahid VALENCIA (USA) claimed his second Ranking Series title with a 10-0 trouncing of Georgia’s Sandro AMINASHVILI (GEO). The bleach blonde-haired American scored five first-period takedowns and ended the match less than two minutes into the finals.

But with David TAYLOR (USA) going to the Olympics, it was just the points for Valencia but not for the Olympics.

“[I am looking for] experience,” he said. “I am still young and could not make the Olympic team this year. It is still a goal of mine. I wanted to get matches and see how foreigners wrestle.”

The close first bout did upset Valencia but he is keen on working on his skills to not give up easy points.

“I got taken down,” he said. “I was working on my offense and defense. I did not want to over wrestle and expose myself.”

Also at 86kg, Myles AMINE (SMR) beat Sebastian JEZIERZANSKI (POL) in the bronze medal match and leaped Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) for the No. 3 seed at the Olympic Games.

Amine came into the competition with 40 points -- seven points behind his Russian nemesis -- but used his ten-point bronze medal to move to the opposite side of the bracket as top-seeded Olympic champion Hasan YAZDANI (IRI).

The Olympic seeds at 86kg are Yazdani), Punia, Amine and Naifonov, respectively.

Another American with a big day was Alec PANTALEO (USA) who plowed his way to a fourth consecutive gold medal with a career-defining win over three-time world champion Haji ALIYEV (AZE), before capping things off with a win over rival James GREEN (USA) in the 70kg finals.


In the semifinals, Pantaleo cruised out to an early 6-1 lead over Aliyev thanks to a takedown and a four-point move. But the Azeri clawed back in the second period and tied the match, 6-6. The American’s first-period fought off a late flurry of attacks and used his four-point move to push himself into the finals.

In the gold-medal match, Pantaleo jumped out to an early four-point advantage against two-time world-medal winner James Green. He scored both early takedowns on head inside single legs to Green’s right leg. Pantaleo surrendered a takedown and a stepout in the second period, but hung on to win his fourth consecutive competition, 5-3.

At 79kg, Akhsarbek GULAEV (SVK) scored a last-second takedown to beat veteran Rashid KURBANOV (UZB) 2-2 in the final and claim the gold medal.


GOLD - Stevan Andria MICIC (SRB) (2-0)
BRONZE - Makhmudjon SHAVKATOV (UZB) (0-2)

GOLD - Alec William PANTALEO (USA) df. James GREEN (USA), 5-3

GOLD - Akhsarbek GULAEV (SVK) df. Rashid KURBANOV (UZB), 2-2

GOLD - Zahid VALENCIA (USA) df. Sandro AMINASHVILI (GEO), 10-0
BRONZE - Myles AMINE (SMR) df. Sebastian JEZIERZANSKI (POL), 6-1

GOLD - Mohammadhossein MOHAMMADIAN (IRI) df. Ali SHABANIBENGAR (IRI), 1-1
BRONZE - Alisher YERGALI (KAZ) df. Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD), via fall
BRONZE - Alireza KARIMIMACHIANI (IRI)df. Kollin Raymond MOORE (USA), 2-2


Double Olympic Champ Vlasov Suffers Loss, Hurts Tokyo Games Chances

By Vinay Siwach

WARSAW, Poland (June 12) --- “The smallest,” Roman VLASOV (RUS) did not mince his words when asked about his chances to make the Russian team for the Tokyo Olympics.

He was the favorite to win the 77kg weight class in Warsaw on Saturday but the Russian suffered a shock defeat to the rising star Tamas LEVAI (HUN) in the semifinal 1-1, hurting his own chances of making the Russian team for the Games.

It was one of those matches where Vlasov failed to find his rhythm despite being the aggressive wrestler. He did not anticipate the tactics Levai deployed first to come out unharmed from the par terre position and then defend the 1-1 criteria lead until the end of time.

The two-time Olympic champion's fate now hangs in balance as Russia will decide the the Tokyo Olympian later this month.


In the 77kg final, Abuiazid MANTSIGOV (RUS) manhandled Levai -- outplacing Vlasov in the process -- and will likely square off against fellow world champion Aleksander CHEKHIRKIN (RUS) for the Russian 77kg at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Much like Iran did earlier in the week with their freestyle squad, Russia used the Poland Open as a special wrestle-off. But in the case of Russia’s 77kg spot, they used the Poland Open as a placeholder for a spot in a showdown against Chekhirkin, who punched his nation’s ticket to Tokyo through his gold-medal performance at the European Olympic Qualifier in March.

It’s not clear when or where the special wrestle-off will take place, but once that information is available, it’ll be posted on www.uww.org and all of our social media accounts.

However, Iran got their Olympian at 130kg. In the all-Iranian battle for the gold and a place on the team for Tokyo, Amin MIRZAZADEH (IRI) used a mean underhook throw-by with 45 seconds left in the second period to pick up the match's only offensive points against Aliakbar YOUSOFIAHMADCHALI (IRI). That was the match-deciding takedown, as Mirzazadeh claimed gold with the 3-1 victory.


There was a third Iranian -- Amir GHASEMIMONJEZI (IRI) -- part of the process but Muminjon ABDULLAEV (UZB) defeated him 8-0 in the quarterfinal to end his run for the Olympics.

Abdullaev finished with the bronze medal and will receive 12 points, breaking into the top four seedings for the Olympics. His 12 points made his jump over Moises Salvador PEREZ HELLBURG (VEN) and sit fourth with 40 points.

At 67kg, Murat FIRAT (TUR) forged a five-point second-period comeback and stopped Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY) from putting a third Ranking Series gold on his resume. The 24-year-old Turk surrendered an inactivity point and a right-sided two-point gut wrench against the Tokyo Olympian, but conserved enough energy to string together five unanswered points and steal the match from the Egyptian.

Firat’s point-scoring frenzy started with a pair of step-outs, followed by a two-point exposure that results from an inactivity point.

What the silver medal does is take Elsayed to second place in the Tokyo seeds at 67kg as he collected 12 points for his silver medal. His total of 50 points keeps him behind Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) who has 80 points but he moves ahead of Artem SURKOV (RUS) and Mate NEMES (SRB) who have 40 points and 39 points respectively.

Elsayed said he missed competing internationally and due to lack of training due to COVID-19, he was not 100 percent on Saturday. But the U23 world champion was confident of being in best shape for the Olympics.

Another Olympic qualified athlete claimed the gold medal as Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) traded inactivity points with Yaroslav FILCHAKOV (UKR) and held criteria in the end and grabbed 82kg gold.

The youngsters' win here doesn't give any ranking points for the Tokyo Olympics as he will be moving down to 77kg at the Olympics.

At 55kg, Max NOWRY (USA) was awarded the gold medal as he was the only entry in the weight class.

Greco-Roman wrestling will continue on Sunday with five more weight categories in action in Warsaw.



GOLD - Murat FIRAT (TUR) df. Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY), 5-3
BRONZE - Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB) df. Makhmud BAKHSHILLOEV (UZB), via injury default
BRONZE - Bohdan KOVERNYUK (UKR) df. Mateusz SZEWCZUK (POL), 4-1

GOLD - Abuiazid MANTSIGOV (RUS) df. Tamas LEVAI (HUN), 9-0
BRONZE - Yasaf ZEINALOV (UKR) df. Yunus Emre BASAR (TUR), via injury default

GOLD – Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) df. Yaroslav FILCHAKOV (UKR), 1-1
BRONZE - Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE) df. Magnus GROENVIK (NOR), 9-0

GOLD - Amin Mohammadzaman MIRZAZADEH (IRI) df. Aliakbar Hossein YOUSOFIAHMADCHALI (IRI), 3-1
BRONZE - Eduard POPP (GER) df. Heiki NABI (EST), via injury default