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MA_Wrestler

2015 World Championship preview, prediction and discussion

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I was hoping to have some fun with this a little sooner but haven't had the time. I will try and do a preview of each weight as well as a team overview. Please feel free to add any corrections or oversights as I am doing most of this from memory. Feel free to add discussion and predictions here as well! Just a few days away, can't wait. No disrespect to the Greco guys or the women, but I really can't get into much detail there, although I will be watching.

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Team overview:

 

USA: With this years event on our home turf, expectations are at an all time high. As a team we have had great showings at the last two World Cup's, as well as some promising results over seas from plenty of individuals, but the last two World Championships have brought home just 3 medals from 2 different wrestlers. We have our superstar in Burroughs, but we lost our next most consistent wrestler in Dlagnev. We have a former medalist in Herbert, a seasoned vet with a great international resume in Metcalf, Humphrey on his 3rd world team with a couple of impressive showings in past trips, and we have some new blood as well. American fans always have high expectations, and this year is no different.

 

If you look at our results over the last 10 years, 2-3 medals is a pretty good showing. Since 2005 our medal counts were as follows; 2, 4, 1, 1, 2, 0, 2, 3, 1, 2. We've also had plenty of wrestlers reach the medal match and finish 5th in that time, so hoping for 1 or 2 5th place finishes as well is not out of the question. Unlike some years past, I really don't see anyone in our lineup who isn't capable of a top 5 finish. No disrespect to anyone who ever made a world team, but I can remember years where we sent guys that I felt just had no chance at all. Most of our guys have enough of a proven record to show they are int he discussion for a top 5 finish, and the new, less experienced guys have the skill sets and domestic wins to suggest the same thing. I'm not saying all 8 of our guys will medal or reach the medal match, but everyone one of them is capable of doing so without it being a huge shock.

 

As a fan I'd love nothing more than to see us win the team title on home turf, have everyone wrestle to the fullest of their abilities and all win medal. That's what I'll be cheering for, but realistically, I'm hoping for 2-3 medals and 1 or 2 others finishing 5th.

 

The field: Russia reclaimed their throne last year after a disappointing (by their ridiculous standards) 2013. They crowned 5 world champs, after having 2 others win title in 2013, giving them 7 different world champions in the first two years of this cycle. The most ridiculous part, 4 of those 7 won't even be competing this year, and 1 of those that will got beat at Russian nationals! They are the clear favorites, with a legit gold medal threat at every weight class. They have a couple defending champs, a couple former champs, and some new blood ranked near the top of the world looking to make their first big splash. That said, Iran is damn good and has some quality depth themselves, so the margin for error may be small.

 

Iran stole the team title in 2013 and made it interesting again last year. They have some pretty impressive depth at a few weights as well. They have former champs, returning medalist and a few break out stars in waiting in this years lineup, and they are very capable of taking the team title yet again.

 

Azerbijian was a clear #2 in the world for a while before the resurgence of Iran, then they seemed to fall off a bit in the last year or two. This years lineup looks to be one of their best in recent years, maybe ever, at least on paper. If everything falls into place they could absolutely be in the hunt with the top two teams.

 

Georgia may be the next most powerful wrestling nation, having put more wrestlers on the medal stand than any country after the top 3. Despite the great medal hauls, they haven't won a gold since the Olympics in 2008. They look to have solid medal threats all over their lineup, and if they can get a gold in there too they could certainly challenge for a top 3 spot.

 

Turkey had a great showing last year, winning multiple medals and crowning a world champ. I believe they finished 3rd in the team race and definitely have the top end talent and the depth to be in the mix again.

 

Cuba is only sending 5 wrestlers, but all 5 are legit. They haven't won a gold medal since the turn of the century, but they have a couple capable of changing that. Ukraine is always tough, particularly in the upper weights where they have 3 former world medalist, including a 2013 champ. Many of the other former soviet nations bring several former medalist and or contenders for this year. Armenia, Kazakistan, Uzbekistan and more. Bulgaria and Belarus both have a few former medalist in the filed as well.

 

India was a nation that really emerged on the international wrestling scene for a few years. They didn't have much of a showing last year but look to be sending a stronger team on paper this year. The other nation that has really emerged the last two years has been Mongolia. They have won a few medals, have a few guys ranked pretty high and are especially strong in the first few weights.

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57KG

 

The field: This has to be one of the most exciting weights in the whole tournament. There is a great mix of experienced, veterans as well as young stars in their prime. There are multiple former world champs, and some new faces to the mix. Last years champ (and 2009 champ) Yang from Korea is not entered (although we know the entry list is not always official and can change). It looks like they'll be sending 6th ranked Asian Games champ Jong instead. We would have to think if he's good enough to go over a returning champ that he will be a serious medal threat.

 

Last years silver went to 2012 Olympic silver medalist Khinchegashvilli from Georgia. He looked poised to capture the elusive gold for himself and for his country until the very end of the match, losing a heartbreaker late. He has spent time up at 61 this year, and was disqualified at Euro's so his ranking is a bit low, but he may still be on the favorites this year. The 2013 champ is one of the last veteran wrestlers in the tournament, Rahimi from Iran. Then there is 2010 and '11 world champ Lebedev from Russia, another dangerous vet.

 

Most of the talk on the forums has been about he high throwing Cuban Bonne. He was impressive in his bronze medal performance at 61 last year, and has looked sharp all year down at 57. He's getting up there in age but doesn't seem to be losing a step and is one of the most exciting wrestlers to watch. Can he finally bring home a gold for Cuba? The Mongolian Erdenebat has turned some heads since his 5th place performance last year and should be a threat to earn a medal for this emerging wrestling nation. Akguel from Turkey won a medal in 2013 and is listed as their entry this year. The wildcard could be 2013 silver medalist Kumar from India, who hasn't competed much since but is on the preliminary entry list.

 

U.S. : Tony Ramos is making his second straight appearance on the world stage. He was the surprise upstart last year, making the team right out of college. His improvement over the last full year has been very impressive. He has yet to lose to an American in his freestyle career, dominating a pretty talented field domestically. He doesn't have any big, signature wins internationally, but seems ready to break out. His defense has improved dramatically, shutting down a high scoring guy like Joe Colon the way he did was amazing. We all know his confidence is where it needs to be to make him a medal contender.

 

Prediction: I want to jump on the Bonne bandwagon, but I don't know if I'm there yet. I think Khinchegashvilli is the best guy at this weight, in his prime and tired of coming so close and falling short. If they're on opposite sides of the bracket I say these two meet in the finals, and one of the two nations starving for a long awaited gold medal will finally get it.

 

I really want Ramos to win a medal. I love his mentality, I'm an Iowa fan and a USA Wrestling fan, but this weight is so deep and so good, I just don't know. I think with the he right draw he could make the bronze match, but I think there are just too many guys at this weight that are too good right now. That said, Tony has said in interviews that he feeds off people doubting and he wants to prove everyone wrong, so since I want to see him win a medal, especially a gold, if you're reading this Tony "You can't win a medal!" Now, go prove me wrong!

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61KG

 

The field: This is the first of the two non Olympic weights (still can't believe this weight will not be in the Olympics, think of some of the all time legends that competed at or around this weight class!). The weight doesn't seem loaded with big name stars, maybe partially because of it being non Olympic? Two of the four medal winners are not returning with one moving up and one moving down. The returning champ is Azerbijian's Aliyev. He spent most of last year ranked first, won every major event and capped it off with a world title. This year he has not had the success or consistency as last. He has spent time up at 65, which tells me either the weight cut is getting tough or he's trying to bulk up for a run at Rio (good luck with the he talent they have at 65!). Hard to gauge whether or not he should be considered the favorite, but he certainly has to be in the discussion.

 

The top ranked wrestler in the world, Bogomev from Russia, seems to be the consensus pick as the favorite coming in. Russia had basically owned this weight, winning 6 gold and a silver medal in the last 7 world/Olympics, until last year when Bogomev failed to place. I'm sure he is well aware of that to and will be looking to get them back on top. He has been consistent all year, had to beta the 2013 world champ and a 2012 Olympic champ just to make the team, then followed it up by winning Euro's.

 

The wrestler who gave him all he wanted in the Euro finals was Lomtadze of Georgia. That match was fun to watch, and if that's an indication of what he can do then the Georgian is a definite medal contender here. Iran is sending a first time rep in Ehsanpoor. Given the depth and talent Iran has, we have to consider the Asian silver medalist a threat here. The Asian champ is actually ranked a couple spots behind the Iranian, that's Niyazbekov of Kazakstan. The Mongolian won bronze last year, is only ranked 14th but is a proven commodity on the world stage. 2013 world silver Dubov from Bulgaria is entered as well.

 

U.S.: Reece Humphrey is on his 3rd world team. His first two appearance left him just shy of the medal stand, winning multiple matches and coming up short in heartbreaking fashion in the quarters. He had leads that he couldn't hold in those matches, but hopefully this is the year, because with this being a non Olympic weight, as well as the struggle to make the cut and him getting up there in age, this may be his last shot. He's one of our guys who is much better suited for freestyle than folkstyle, he's capable of big throws and putting up lots of points. He doesn't have much in the way of international wins for the last couple years, but we have seen that he is capable of winning at this level, so a medal is certainly possible for us here.

 

Prediction: Two guys I've never heard of or didn't mention will win a medal. Bogomev gets Russia back to the top of this weight.

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Good analysis.  57 is a deep weight indeed.  I like Rahimi here.  In his loss to Lebedev at the 2014 World Cup and his loss to Yang last year at Worlds, he had a good lead in both and lost very late in both.  It's tough to be perfect at this level, but I feel he's been very consistent over the past few years.  

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65KG

 

The field: Contrary to 61 and much like 57, this weight is ABSOLUTLY loaded with talent, defending and former champs and medalist from a variety of weights. The bad news for the field at this weight is Torgul Asgarov of Azerbijian appears to back and looking like his old self. If he is healthy both physically and mentally he is in the discussion for best wrestler in the world. I remember his breakout performance in 2010 as an 18 year old phenom, reaching the finals at 55 in impressive fashion. Then he moves up to 60, beats arguably the best wrestler in the world and 3x defending champ Kudukhov to capture Olympic gold. Since then he has tried moving up another weight with less than stellar results, posters of here had question his commitment or maturity, more recently he has had trouble staying healthy, but he seems to seems to be firing on all cylinders now after winning Euro's in impressive fashion and having to beat out a couple top 10 guys just to make the team. He is slick as hell and fun to watch with a great variety of techniques.

 

The defending champ is somewhat of a surprise entry for Russia here. Romanov won this weight last year but got beat at Russian nationals by Bekulbatov, but I guess the Russians weren't impressed with Bekulbatov's showing at Euro since they have Romanov listed. He's ranked 8th, behind two fellow Russians, but as defending champ he has to be considered one of the top dogs here. The top ranked wrestler is the Iranian he beat in the finals last year, Sayed Mohammadi. The top 3 nations in the world clearly make up the top 3 favorites at this weight.

 

After those 3 the field is littered with multiple past champions, medalist and contenders. Among them is our own Brent Metcalf, ranked 2nd in the world, but I'll get to him in a minute. 2013 world champion Safaryan hasn't done much since that title, and is barely ranked, squeezing in at 20, but you can't ever overlook a world champ. Ganzorig from Mongolia has won bronze the last two years in a row. Chamiso from Italy is a former medalist for Cuba at a lower weight and is ranked 5th after having a solid season. Dutt from India is listed as the entry and he was a medalist at 60 in the 2012 Olympics. Kaya from Turkey lost in the bronze medal bout last year, comes in ranked 6th. Boris Novachkov, the D1 All-American now representing Bulgaria has had several marque international wins but has yet to medal and remains a serious threat. Former world silver Franklin Gomez is not on the entry list, but if he is a late addition he is as good as they get. The Cuban who competed at Pan-Am's is not ranked but he could be a sleeper here, as could u ranked Canadian Haslan Garcia.

 

Another x-factor at this weight could be the Poland entry Gadzhiev, currently ranked 2nd in the world at 70. He took 2nd at Euro's at 70, and if he is in fact able to drop to 65 we would have to think he will be in the mix as well.

 

U.S. : Not much to say about Metcalf that hasn't been said on here before, other than I find a lot of the comments on him to be comical. It's often said that he is too old, yet he was literally one year ahead of Burroughs in school, so he's what, a year, maybe a year and a half older? Or it is said that he chokes at worlds or can't win a meda. Really? He loses to a 2x champ first round in '13, then loses by 1 point to the 5th place guy last year, and that means he can't? Newsflash, the world is really good! It's often 1 point that separates the best guy from the 10th best guy, especially in a weight this good. His international resume speaks for itself, he isn't ranked 2nd in the world by accident. He has beaten so many great wrestlers, some more than once, and his losses are by the narrowest of margins. He's not athletic, just a grinder. Give me a break, do you watch his matches or videos of him in practice?

 

Anyone that has been watching him since college can see a tremendous amount of development. His defense and overall freestyle game are at an all time high. He just gets better and better every year. He was extremely impressive against very good competition at the Pan Am's, beating the style of opponent who he cold never see, to get by in the past. Yes I'm a huge Metcalf fan and there is no wrestler in the world I want to see win a medal more than him, especially gold on U.S. soil, but given his body of work I don't think picking him to place would be a homer pick at all. I don't know how he'll fare against the big 3 I mentioned before, but I can't wait to find out!

 

Prediction: Won't predict a champ, my bias gets in the way too much. I will predict a medal for Metcalf, and a wild, unpredictable weight that will be a ton of fun to watch!

Edited by MA_Wrestler

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M

Wow, didn't know Gadzhiev was going down to 65. He actually had a really close match with the 70kg Russian and Euro games in the finals.

 

I certainly don't have any inside info on this, just going off what they wrote on the UWW website in the or final rankings before worlds article.

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At 29, Metcalf is two years older than Burroughs. He's no spring chicken. And to date he's won a grand total of one match at worlds. I want him to win a world medal as much as anyone, but his past performances don't suggest he will. 

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At 29, Metcalf is two years older than Burroughs. He's no spring chicken. And to date he's won a grand total of one match at worlds. I want him to win a world medal as much as anyone, but his past performances don't suggest he will. 

sure Metcalf is on the decent of the aging curve, but i don't think his two loses at the last two worlds suggests he's out of medal contention. 

 

he's not the gold medal favorite, or even favored to medal, but he's definitely better than no shot at a medal. 

Edited by Jaroslav Hasek

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70KG

 

The field: This is the second of our two non-Olympic weigh classes, and we will be crowning a new champ in this weights 2nd year of existence. Last years champion, Tsabolov from Russia has moved up, my guess would be to get ready to make his run for the spot in Rio. Not surprisingly, Russia has a good replacement for him, and this years Russian rep is Gazimagomedov, currently ranked first in the world after winning Euro's.

 

There really aren't a ton of household names or past medalists in this field. Two of the 4 medal winners from last year do return in silver medalist Gor from Turkey and bronze medalist Abdurakhmanov of Uzbekistan. It would stand to reason that these two would be strong contenders to reach the podium again and they sit at 3 and 4 in the current world rankings respectively. The second ranked wrestler is the Euro runner up, Gadzhiev from Poland, but as I mentioned at 65, UWW is reporting that he will be competing down a weight class. I suppose that could change and if it does we would have to assume he would still be in the medal hunt here at 70.

 

The guy most on these boards seem to be picking is the young Iranian Hassan Yazdani Charati. He seems to be the breakout star in waiting, maybe for the whole tournament. He was a junior champ last year and has looked great all year up at 70, and had to go thru 2x world champ Taghavi just to make the team. He may not be ranked first but I think quite a few people, probably myself included, would consider him the favorite.

 

My possible dark horse here is not showing as the entry, but a frequent poster on the international forum had him as the entry so we'll have to wait and see. That wrestler is Hasanov from Azerbijian, a 2x world bronze and Olympic 5th placer down at 66. Hasanov has competed the last couple years at 74, but in my opinion just isn't big enough. I often wonder why we didn't see a few more of the guys who outgrew 66 try their hand at 70 when the weight came out. Maybe because it is non Olympic, not sure? Livan Lopez comes to mind here, as well as Kumar from India and Taghavi from Iran who did in fact go 70 this year. Azerbijian has the 8th ranked wrestler at this weight in Dibirgadzhiyev, and he may very well be the guy, but if Hasanov is in fact here I would think he would be right there with the best the weight has to offer.

 

U.S.: Speaking of breakout stars waiting to happen, the U.S. might just have one of our own here with James Green. I'm not saying he's a gold medal threat by any stretch of the imagination, but being a surprise medalist wouldn't shock me in the least. Green is much better suited to freestyle thank folk, he has as good a training partner as you could ask for with Burroughs, who wrestles a very similar style. He is lightning quick and his rate of improvement just since the U.S. Open is remarkable. Green is not huge for this weight at all, and I never thought he could beat a guy like Marable who is an absolute house at this weight, but he did so in impressive fashion under very difficult circumstances. His confidence should be sky high right now, and his win over Chamizo, even tho Chamizo completes at a lower weight, should show that he can compete with world level guys. Americans fresh out of college or on their first world team have been known make a big splash first time out while they are still relatively unknown internationally (Zadick '06, Herbert '09, etc). Baring a completely rpterrible draw like having the Russian and the Iranian both on his side of the bracket, I could see Green being a surprise medalist for the U.S.

 

Prediction: It almost sounds cliche to pick either the Russian or the Iranian to win, since you could literally do that at every single weight and have a pretty legit shot of being right, but I do think it will be one of those two that wins it. I'll take Iran in this win, and if Hasanov is the guy for Azerbijian I say he medals too.

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Tsabelov actually wrestled in the Nationals at 70 and lost to the eventual champ, very controversial match.

My mistake, I do remember seeing that now. I know he wrestled some events at 74 and that's where they have him ranked, hence my mixing that up. Thanks for the info, keep it coming!

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74KG

 

The field: The battle here is for 2nd, and the field has a number of quality wrestlers that could all earn the other 3 medals. Anyone not on Burroughs side of the bracket has a shot at silver, but baring another injury nobody in this field is on the same level.

 

We as Americans like to talk about our great depth at this weight, but in reality Russia has 3 of the top 5 and Iran has 3 in the top 12. The Russian entry this year will probably be Burroughs toughest challenger in 2nd ranked Geduev. This will be his first crack at the world stage, despite having such an impressive resume with multiple Russian national titles as well as several other quality tournament wins, including this years Euro's. He has waited a while for this opportunity and I expect he'll take full advantage. I hope he is on the opposite side of the bracket as Burroughs, as a finals matchup between the two, tho it wouldn't be as epic as 3x champ Tsargush vs 3x champ Burroughs, would still be pretty exciting. The two had a close match a few years ago and I think he's the only one capable of keeping it close.

 

There are several other returning or former world medalist in the field as well. Last years silver went to Takatani from Japan, who is currently ranked 4th. Lopez of Cuba has medaled at 4 straight world/Olympics, earning his first medal at 74 last year. I think he's a little small for this weight, as evident by his lopsided loss to David Taylor, but the guy knows how to win at this level on the world stage, so he may very well do it again this year. Shabanu of Belarus won bronze at 70 last year and at 74 the year before. He is as physical as they come at this weight, just see his semifinal with Burroughs where he was disqualified two years ago. Kurbanov of Uzbekistan won bronze as well in 2013 and is currently ranked 8th.

 

The Iranian entry appears to be 11th ranked Ghasemi. He'll be making his first trip to the worlds, but if he is good enough to be their rep in a weight that has 3 wrestlers in the top 12 then I would expect him to be a threat. I mentioned 2x world medalist Hasanov of Azerbijian at 70, he is ranked at this weight and a possible entry here. Like Lopez I think he may be a little small for the top tier guys, but he's proven to be a world class wrestler so you really can't count him out. Demitras of Turkey is ranked 7th and coming off a silver medal at Euro's, could figure in the medal contender group as well.

 

U.S.: What more is there to say about Jordan Burroughs that hasn't been said a million times on these boards? Even with a major injury last year, it still took a multiple time champ to beat him and he still wins bronze. He blazed his way through this weight for 3 straight years, and now looks as healthy and motivated as ever. He is the rarest of rare when it comes to great wrestlers, having off the chart talent to go with off the chart commitment, dedication, drive and motivation, to say nothing of how much a class act he has been representing the U.S. for 5 years now. I hope we are all enjoying the Burroughs era, it could be a long, long time before we get to see something like this from an American wrestler again.

 

The scariest thing about Burroughs, he just keeps getting better. Whether it's his leg lace, his par-terre defense, adding variety to his offense, his defensive positioning, someway somehow he always seems to get better. He's being pushed by quality talent domestically, realizes you always need to get better, and I'm sure he has been waiting to get back here healthy ever since last year. With this event on A erican soil this year, expect Burroughs to be the best we've ever seen him.

 

Prediction: The champ reclaims his throne, and does so in ridiculously impressive fashion. The other 3 medals are up for grabs, but the only thing that can stop Burroughs is another injury.

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86KG

 

The field: Like 74, this weight begins and ends with one guy who is head and shoulders above the rest, and the scariest part is he is still a teenager! That of course is Russian phenom Sadulaev. This amazing talent burst on the scene last year, winning every major event all season and capping it off by mowing thru the field at last years world championships. As if it wouldn't be impressive enough wining a senior title at 18, he did it at one of the upper weights, and wasn't even challenged. He has the physical tools and wrestling talent combined with poise and maturity beyond his age and is well on his way to being the next Russian legend. Now, that's not to say he's automatically going to match or break Satiev's mark of 9 gold medals, as there are many intangibles that go into that type of longevity, much more than just talent. Injury, burnout, weight change (I doubt we see him at 86 from now until he retires) or any number of factors will come into play. But for now, he is in a league of his own at this weight.

 

The 2nd ranked wrestler here is the Cuban who has earned silver the last two years, Salas. Salas is a pretty clear number 2, and he wasn't even remotely close to challenging Sadulaev last year. Time will tell if he has closed that gap or if he has widened the gap on everyone else. Iran has won a bronze medal at this weight in each of the last 3 years from two different wrestlers, but will be sending a new competed this year. They have two very capable wrestlers, both ranked in the top 5, but Asian champ Karimimachiani beat out Joukar at Iranian nationals and appears to be the rep, and should be a strong favorite to medal here.

 

There are a couple other medalist in the field this year, including bronze from last year in Yasar from Turkey and bronze in 2013 Vereb from Hungary, ranked 10th and 12th respectively. The 2013 champ and multiple time medal winner, Aldatov from Ukraine, is not ranked in the top 20 right now, but if he is in the tournament we can expect him to be a factor. Azerbijian has two wrestlers ranked but apparently will be sending u ranked Khatiev, so we'll see what he has to offer for this powerhouse country. Moldova, Poland and Georgia have other Euro medalists from this year entered.

 

U.S.: This year marked the return of 2009 silver medalist and 2012 Olympian Jake Herbert, and as an A,erican fan I'm pretty excited about it. Being away from competing for a couple years allowed him to refresh mentally and physically, get healthy and get focused again. It seems to have worked. Herbert looks bigger, stronger and better than ever. I love his new approach to a foundation system of training and think he has obviously grown smarter as an athlete which will only make him better. The fire seems to be there, maybe more than ever, and we already know the talent is there. Guys older than Herbert have won medals and titles, especially in the upper weights, so while I don't think he can challenge Sadulaev I do think he can win a medal this year and hopefully next year in Rio. I thought he wrestled a great match with Salas, probably the best he has ever wrestled him (Salas made him look silly at 2010 Worlds) and hopefully he keeps learning from that match and carries it over next week!

 

Prediction: Sadulaev wins as impressively as last year and the only discussion about him becomes if he or Burroughs is the best pound for pound wrestler on the planet. I'll take Herbert to medal too, baring an absolutely brutal draw like having Salas and Sadulaev on his side of the bracket.

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