PC: Tony Rotundo

Top Freestyle Wrestlers To Watch In 2023

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Aside from the top wrestlers in their respective weight classes what wrestlers will have a big storyline to follow in 2023?

Takuto Otoguro (Japan)

Otoguro has been out for a while and the last major tournament he wrestled was the Olympic games in Tokyo where he won gold. He was out for a majority of the 2022 season with injury as well.

His return has become even more anticipated now that we have a new world champion at 65kg. Rahman Amouzad won the 65kg world gold at just 20 years old defeating Yianni Diakomihalis in the finals. Since then he has defended his number one ranking defeating Diakomihalis again at the world cup.

Can Otoguro regain his crown as the king of 65kg, will Amouzad prove his status as number one, or will a new name take over the weight class? All questions will be answered this year.

Magomedkhabib Kadimagomedov (Belarus)

Kadi has been one the scene for a while since he defeated Zaurbek Sidakov around 5 years ago, most of the world came to know of his name after his dominant masterclass against Kyle Dake at the Olympic games getting the 11-0 technical superiority victory.

Now he will be up at 79kg and look to challenge Jordan Burroughs as he looks for his 8th gold medal. However it will not be that simple as Iran’s Ali Savadkouhi will be in the field as well, and he clinched a massive win over Burroughs at the world cup.

Ali Savadkouhi (Iran)

This will be somewhat continuous with the Kadi post, both of these guys will be challengers in the 79kg division this year. Savadkouhi was thrown in against Burroughs in place of Mohammad Nokhodi who Burroughs defeated in the 2021 and 2022 world finals.

Will Savadkouhi prove himself to be the real deal or will Burroughs be able to prove his dominance once again? Another question that will be answered at the world championships.

Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur (Mongolia)

The 25 year old has established himself as a staple in the heavyweight field after his medals in 2021 and 2022. He placed 5th at the 2020 Olympics after falling to Gable Steveson in the semifinals and Taha Akgul in the bronze medal bout.

In 2021 he was teched by Geno Petriashvili 11-1 in the opening round, just a year later he would shock the world stunning Petriashvili in the world semifinals 4-2.

We have seen a different heavyweight champ every year since 2019, will this finally be Munkhtur’s time to make his mark on the senior level?

Seth Gross (United States)

Seth Gross shocked many people after he upset world silver medalist Daton Fix at Final X. However his world championships performance just was not enough to get him a medal as he fell to Rei Higuchi and Arsen Harutyunyan.

Assuming he makes the team this year, his level of improvement has been massive year by year and this maybe the year we see him get on the podium or even win it at 61kg.

Kyle Dake (United States)

Dake is the only wrestler on this list that won the world championships last year, and has won it 4 times total. However there has been a lot of criticism about the level of competition he has faced, and to be honest they are not wrong.

This year things will change, assuming Russia is competing. People have been waiting for this match ever since Dake beat Jordan Burroughs at the Olympic trials for Tokyo.

Kyle Dake vs Zaurbek Sidakov has been talked about for years at this point, can Dake get it done or will Sidakov prove why he has been at the top of 74kg since 2018? Another thing that we will find out this year.

Hassan Yazdani (Iran)

Yazdani is not underrated by any means, however he has been put in a position where we will out a lot of things. Yazdani is 1-4 at this point against David Taylor, the first three matches could be attributed to Taylor being much bigger than him to an extent.

In 2021 Yazdani was finally able to grab a win against his rival defeating Taylor 6-2, the scripted was flipped right back as Taylor put on what many would consider the best performance yet defeating Yazdani 7-1.

We all know what he has accomplished in this sport, winning Olympic gold at 21 years old, and 3 world titles. It might be too late at this point but he will most likely only have two more shots at Taylor for the remainder of his career, can he make something happen?

J’den Cox (United States)

In 2018 and 2019 Cox might have been the most dominant wrestler on the planet as he cruised his way to 2 world titles at 92kg. After that things turned south very quickly, he missed the the Tokyo Olympic trials due to a weight miscommunication, he lost the super match to Snyder, he lost at the world championships taking bronze, and fell short yet again last year.

He has the ability to regain his position at the top, the man in front of him however will not change. Kamran Ghasempour has been untouched in international competition at 92kg. He has defeated Cox twice at the world championships ending his reign of king of 92kg.

Cox recently suffered an injury so who knows what state he is in, but if healthy he will be a guy to watch.

Abasgadzhi Magomedov (Russia)

Magomedov defeated Daton Fix in the 2021 world finals 4-1. He has not competed at the world championships since then and will look to make a return and regain his top ranking.

There have been some big changes in the landscape, and most notably the return of Rei Higuchi, for those of you who are unfamiliar Higuchi won silver at the 2016 Olympics and has been pretty much out of the international scene until this year where he won a world title up a weight at 61kg.

Higuchi vs Magomedov will be a massive match should we see it go down this year and you will not want to miss it.

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Akil Murugan
Akil Murugan
Senior Editor for Heavyweight Nation

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