Snyder was better prepared at Olympics: Sadulaev after 'easy' win to 5th World title

By Vinay Siwach

OSLO, Norway (October 8) -- They had not wrestled each other for three years since that night in Budapest but now they faced each other twice in two months. Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RWF) and Kyle SNYDER (USA) put on a show at the Tokyo Olympics in August and this week in Oslo, Norway. Sadulaev, who lost to the American in 2017 Worlds, avenged that loss at the 2018 Budapest edition. A third bout was expected in Nursultan but Snyder lost in the semifinal while Sadulaev reached the final.

The 1-1 tie was broken in Tokyo, the sport's grandest stage, when Sadulaev beat Snyder 6-3 to claim his second Olympic gold. When the two met in Oslo, it was a question of Snyder keeping up with the Russian Tank or Sadulaev making it an one-sided affair.

"I really wanted to win in Oslo, because five-time world champion sounds better than four-time champion," Sadulaev said.

He did become a five-time world champion when he beat Snyder 6-0 in the 97kg final and also led the Russian Wrestling Federation to yet another team title win at the World Championships. The fact that it came down to this bout to decide the title was history repeating itself. Back in 2017, it was the same case but Snyder then defeated a new-to-97kg Sadulaev and claimed the title for USA.

"Years of work pays off and thank God I won again," Sadulaev said. "I always have tough matches with Snyder. I could barely get off the mat at the Olympics, today I was tired at the end, but everything went well."

Sadulaev took some time to catch his breath after the bout in Tokyo and sat matside before finally leaving the arena. But in Oslo, his conditioning looked better and a change in strategy helped him pull off the win with ease.

"In Tokyo, I immediately began to attack, but here in the first period I decided to see what he would do," he said. "I understood his tactics, and in the second period I did not let him take the lead."

Now a five-time world champion Sadulaev explained more about his approach to a 'Synderlaev' bout and said he doesn't really plan for a bout against his American opponent.

"I don't have any special tactic for the matches against Snyder," Sadulaev said. "I know he is trying to wear me out. So I was trying to make him wrestle my way and not let him set his own rules. In the end, I noticed that he got more worn out than me.

"Personally, I think he was better prepared physically and mentally at the Olympics. I was more tired there. It was easier to win here." 

Sadulaev had a 5-0 lead after the first period. Snyder was called for passivity and as soon as the activity clocked ended, the RWF wrestler pounced with a takedown to increase the lead and then exposed the American with a gut. Snyder did try to attack but was called passive for his lack of activity and won 6-0.

Asked whether this was the most difficult win for him, Sadulaev said that the 2018 win in Budapest still remains a special win for him given that it was a revenge bout.

"Then I had been waiting for that match for a whole year, I wanted to take revenge," he said. "And at the Olympics or today, I didn’t expect to wrestle with him. Here, the most important thing was to win the gold medal of the World Championship. Of course, it's nice that our rivalry with Snyder makes people more interested in our sport."

Despite leading the head-to-head tie 3-1, Sadulaev believes that it won't be easy going forward to wrestle Snyder. "Before the third match, we could not meet for three years, but now it is the second match in two months. There will be no undefeated wrestler, sooner or later everyone loses, it's just that now is my time." 

Sadulaev injured his knee right before the Olympics and it was doubted that he would struggle with the injury. But he said that he would have fought in the Olympics even if he had no leg.

"I have not yet fully recovered from the injury, but in Oslo I felt better than in Tokyo," he said. "I think that now I deserve a little rest and I will heal. My personal coach Shamil OMAROV is next to me - he is like my father, my elder brother during competitions and training camps, and he prepares me in a special way for each bout."

It is still unclear when the new season will start for the star wrestler but he said that till he is healthy, he will continue wrestling at the World Championships with no target on how many medals he wants to win at the megaevent.

"I want to enjoy the victory and have a little rest, and then I will think," he said. "With the help of God there will be no injuries, there will be no problems. I will wrestle for as long as I have strength and health. I am not planning to leave the sport before Paris Olympics. I will keep preparing for the upcoming tournaments.

"For now I will go for a vacation. I will spin the globe and go wherever my finger points."

Sadulaev was leading a young team to Oslo with only him and Tokyo bronze medalist Artur NAIFANOV (RWF) wrestling at the event. Tokyo Olympics champions Zavur UGUEV (RWF) and Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RWF) decided to skip the Oslo event. 65kg bronze medalist Gazhdimurad RASHIDOV (RWF) was also missing from the event.

The 26-year-old said that it brought added responsibility to him and explained that the experience of wrestling at the World Championships will be invaluable for the team.

"The longer I wrestle, the more responsibility it brings," he said. "Before, no one knew my wrestling style, today everyone knows how I wrestle, and I have to work hard to keep winning.

"I am glad that the number of world champions in Russia has increased. There are only two Olympians in our team. The rest of the guys are young. Some wrestled worse than they could actually do because we know that it is sometimes more difficult to win the national championships than the world championships. They went through tough trials, came here, but someone lacked experience, anything can happen. I will say one thing that everyone has a great future, the main thing is never giving up."


Yazdani details emotional win over Taylor that propelled him to third world title

By Eric Olanowski

OSLO, Norway (November 26) --- Hassan “The Greatest” YAZDANI (IRI) headed into the Oslo World Championships with revenge on his mind. He lost to career rival David TAYLOR (USA) in three consecutive matches – including once in August via a last-second takedown in the Tokyo Olympic finals.

Yazdani turned the tides in Oslo on a cold October night and exacted revenge on Taylor and claimed his third world title.

United World Wrestling sat down with Yazdani after his epic win to talk about the losses that drove him to become a three-time world champion, what was different about his Iranian team in Oslo and what’s motivating him to chase a second Olympic gold medal.

The Epic Oslo Matchup:
Yazdani controlled the 86kg world finals match from start to finish to notch a solid 6-2 victory over Taylor in the highly anticipated 86kg final at the Oslo World Championships.

Yazdani's victory, coming two months after a heartbreaking loss to Taylor in the final at the Tokyo Olympics, gave him a third world title to go with his 2016 Rio Olympic gold, and capped a remarkable day for Iran in the Jordal Amfi arena.

"I made the people of Iran happy," Yazdani said. "I need to appreciate Taylor, because he worked as a motivation and inspiration for me to work better and better and become the champion."

The vocal contingent of Iranian fans were sent into a frenzy when rising star Amir ZARE (IRI) claimed the 125kg title, having earlier seen Iran gain finalists in all four weight classes that got underway Sunday, including Yazdani's cousin Amir YAZDANI (IRI).

"Iran always supports their wrestlers and fans here were great," Yazdani said. "And it was because of them and God I won."

The United States had mixed success in the two other finals, with Kyle DAKE (USA) prevailing at 74kg, but Daton FIX (USA) coming up short against Abasgadzhi MAGOMEDOV (RWF) at 61kg.

In Tokyo, Yazdani had to settle for the Olympic silver when Taylor scored a takedown with 17 seconds left for a 4-3 win in the final. On Sunday, he never gave the American the chance to get close.

Yazdani continually kept the pressure on, using an underhook to force Taylor to the edge and score a pair of stepout points in the first period. In the second period, he added a takedown, before Taylor got on the scoreboard with a takedown with 1:03 left.

With the clock ticking down, Taylor tried a counter lift, but Yazdani held firm and dumped him to the mat for a takedown and the final points of an well-earned victory.

"He's a great competitor," said Taylor, whose lone world title came in 2018, where he beat Yazdani in the first round. "Not my day."

Asked what he could have done differently, Taylor quipped, "Scored my points. He's a good wrestler. We will go again."