Kyle Snyder has been looking better than ever coming off a best of three sweep of 2x world champion J’den Cox and two techs over Kollin Moore. Being stuck behind Sadulaev for the past two years maybe made Snyder get a little bit overlooked by many.
With the world championships only a couple weeks away starting on September 10th and United World Wrestling not making any announcement on the Russia and Belarus bans we can only assume that they will not be there.
A lot of people are saying that Snyder will be able to walk though the bracket with ease being that Sadulaev is not there. That may just be true being how he has looked recently but I would not be too quick to assume anything. 97kg has many solid competitors that are looking to take advantage of this opening and possibly snag gold in Belgrade.
Sharif Sharifov (Azerbaijan)
Sharifov is the obvious guy here being the only other olympic champion in the weight class winning all the way back in 2012 down at 84kg. Sharifov has been looking good even with his age being a factor.
He took bronze in Rio after falling to Sadulaev in the semifinals and did not place in Tokyo however that really is not his fault. He just looked overwhelmed with the route he was given pulling Sadulaev right off the bat then having to beat Elizbar Odikadze who is a guy we will talk about as well and falling to Reineris Salas of Cuba in the bronze medal match 3-3 on criteria.
Sharifov did “upset” Snyder at the 2019 world championships but again falling to none other than Sadulaev in the finals. He will look to grab another win over the American and possibly add another gold to his lengthy resume.
Mohammad Mohammadian (Iran)
If you have seen wrestling internationally at all in the past two years you know who Mohammadian is as he has somewhat consistently laid beatings on Americans.
He has a victory over Kyle Snyder by fall, a win over Bo Nickal by technical superiority 10-0 and a win over Kollin Moore by technical superiority 11-0.
Many people were very excited to see him in Tokyo but Elizbar Odikadze had other plans and denied the Sadulaev vs Mohammadian quarterfinal match that we were all expecting. Odikadze was teched by Sadulaev in the next round causing Mohammadian to be eliminated and go 0-1 at the olympics.
Not the best performance recently but it would be just dumb to count him out given the track record he has against American wrestlers. A lot of people see this being the final and I would have to agree should Mohammadian show up.
Elizbar Odikadze (Georgia)
Odikadze is an established veteran on the scene and his age is the main question here at 33 years old he is just going to keep slowing down over time. He lost in the bronze medal match at the Rio olympics to Albert Saritov and lost to Sharif Sharifov in the first repechage in Tokyo.
Sadualev has been the one guy to consistently be able to take it to him and Snyder in theory should be able to beat him handedly as well, but that is what a lot of people thought about Mohammadian as many counted Odikadze out.
Abraham Conyedo (Italy)
Similar to Frank Chamizo, Abraham Conyedo was formerly a wrestler for Cuba before joining team Italy where he has had great success bring in a world bronze medal as well as an olympic bronze medal.
He is 28 years old so still in his prime, I was very impressed by him at the Poland open last year when he knocked off olympic champion Sharifov so that is the main reason he is listed here. He was a big what if at the olympics but he impressed and did what he had to do. A gold medal of course just was not going to happen but he was able to secure bronze in a very tough bracket and it should be interesting to see how he does this year.
Some of these guys did not compete at the world championships last year and getting up in age so if they will even come back has yet to be confirmed. Mainly speaking on Sharifov and Odikadze here.