97kg has been nothing short of insane these past few years. With 3 Olympic Champions in the weight class consistently rounding out the medal spots Abdulrashid Sadulaev has held the top spot in this weight class since 2018 and down at 86kg since 2014. Sadulaev is already a 2x Olympic Champion at the age of 25. He won his first World Title in Tashkent 2014 with a technical superiority over a returning world finalist. He will be looking for his 5th world title in just a couple days in Oslo.
That being said about Abdulrashid Sadulaev, Kyle Snyder is not a man to be overlooked. We found this out in 2017 where he downed the Russian phenom in the super match known as “Snyderlaev”
People said that Snyder peaked at this tournament. People said that he only won because Sadulaev made the bump up to 97kg to challenge him. Does that matter? We will leave that up to you. However in the rematch “Snyderlaev II” Sadulaev got revenge. This is when he was named the p4p king.
In the rematch Abdulrashid Sadulaev PINNED the American Kyle Snyder. This was one of if not the biggest wrestling match of the year. This is when people starting looking at him like he could be the next Buvaisar Saitiev. With his Size, Speed, Savviness. Sadulaev did not lose since that match with Kyle Snyder in 2017, and he still has not lost 4 years later in 2021.
Fast forward to 2019. Kyle Snyder had a rough patch, if you could even cal it that. He dropped a match early to 2012 Olympic Champion Sharif Sharifov and wrestled back for bronze. Still on the podium but not the spot that he was looking for. Sadulaev however cruised his way into the World Finals that year against Sharifov who he had already defeated en route to his 2016 Olympic Gold Medal in Rio. Sadulaev seemed to be challenged in this match but still got it done with a solid 4-0 performance.
2020 we obviously know what happened. Unfortunate circumstances and Worlds got cancelled. However luckily the Olympics didn’t. When the brackets came out there was a lot of controversy. With Sadulaev’s path to the Gold Medal match he would need to defeat Sharif Sharifov first round which is already an insane matchup which should not go down first round under any circumstances. Then he would either need to get through Elizbar Odikadze or Mohammad Mohammadian where these guys might not have the accolades as Sharifov but Mohammadian did pin Snyder the last time they wrestled.
2021 Olympics, Sadulaev cruises into the finals relatively untouched which was insane however he was suffering a leg injury from about a few weeks prior which raised some concern. Snyder did the same on the opposite side of the bracket which was talked about being much easier, which it was compared to what Sadulaev had to go through. When they met in the finals many people expected it to be a blowout. However it was decently competitive with Sadulaev coming out on top. Was Sadulaev ever in danger of losing, not really.
This match occurred a little over a month ago. Sadulaev came out on top 6-3 whilst injured and running the gauntlet the entire way through. The main question is, can that gap be closed or will it be widened by Sadulaev. The main problem with either of these statements is that if Sadulaev heals it will give him a better chance at putting up more points and being able to put up offensive attacks that the relying on re-attacks as he did in Tokyo. Now you have to assume the brackets will be somewhat more balances in Oslo than they were in Tokyo, hopefully at least. That would mean Snyder would have to get through Mohammadian, Sharifov, or Odikadze to get to the finals and maybe even two of them. The projected winner will be Abdulrashid Sadulaev for obvious reasons. What do you think?