World Championships preview in Greco-Roman wrestling at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.

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Richard Immel (USA Wrestling)

Date of Competition: Sunday, September 22

For the better part of the past decade the 120 kg/264.5 lbs. Greco-Roman weight class has been dominated by one man, Mijain Lopez of Cuba. Since 2005 Lopez has won four World Championships and two Olympic championships. 

With Lopez not registered to compete at this year’s World Championships the gold medal is up for grabs in what is an extremely deep field. 

Headlining the list of top contenders are 2012 Olympic medalists Heiki Nabi of Estonia, Riza Kayaalp of Turkey and Johan Euren of Sweden. All three competitors are capable of capturing the 2013 World title. 

The frontrunner is Turkey’s 2012 Olympic bronze medalist and World No. 1 Riza Kayaalp, who has made significant strides since London, not losing a single international match. This includes gold medal victories at the European Championships, Mediterranean Games and World University Games. 

It appears Kayaalp is on a collision course with the other 2012 Olympic bronze medalist from Sweden, Johan Euren. Ranked No. 2 in the world by FILA, Euren has also gone unscathed since the Olympics, winning gold in seven international competitions. 

Defending Olympic silver medalist Heiki Nabi is currently unranked and has had a rough go since the Olympics. Nabi only medaled at two of the five international competitions he has competed in since London. Most recently Nabi finished in 14th place at the European Championships (won by Kayaalp) and in 15th at the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup (won by Euren).

Ranked No. 3 in the world is two-time World bronze medalist Nurmakhan Tinaliev of Kazakhstan.  The 2013 Asian Champion, Tinaliev finished with bronze at the World University Games and second at the Dave Schultz Memorial International, losing in the finals to Euren.

2010 World Champion at 96 kg, Amir Aliakbari of Iran is currently ranked No. 4 in the world by FILA at 120 kg/264.5 lbs., however Aliakbari is not registered to compete in Budapest. Instead the unproven Mahidi Nouri will take to the mat for Iran.

Hungarian veteran Mihaly Deak-Bardos will be participating in his 13th World Championship and is also a four-time Olympian. Deak-Bardos is a four-time World silver medalist but is still missing a World title on his impressive resume. 

Similarly, longtime Lithuanian staple at this weight Mindaugas Mizgaitis will be competing in his 10th World Championship. Mizgaitis is a two-time Olympian scoring bronze in Beijing in 2008. He has yet to medal at a World Championship.

5th place finisher in London, Iosif Chugoshvili of Belarus has had steady results since the Olympics, rounding out with a bronze medal last month at the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup in Poland.

FILA Junior bronze medalist from Germany Eduardo Popp is looking to surprise and medal in his first senior level World Championship. 

American Robbie Smith will be competing in his first World Championship this year in Budapest. Smith was a Pan American Championship silver medalist earlier this year. 

1. Riza Kayaalp (Turkey) 2. Johan Magnus Euren (Sweden) 3. Nurmakhan Tinaliev (Kazakhstan) 4. Amir Aliakbari (Iran) 5. Balint Lam (Hungary) 6. Evgeni Orlov (Ukraine) 7. Aleksander Chernetski (Ukraine) 8. Guram Pherselidze (Georgia) 9. Eduardo Popp (Germany) 10. Mindaugas Mizgaitis (Lithuania) 11. Nie Xiaoming (China) 12. Alikhan Ayubov (Russia) 13. Kamil Blonski (Poland) 14. Radhouane Chebbi (Tunisia) 15. Rocco Ficara (Italy)


2012 Olympic Games
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Gold - Mijian Lopez (Cuba); Silver - Heiki Nabi (Estonia); Bronze - Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); Bronze - Johan Euren (Sweden); 5th - Guram Pherselidze (Georgia); 5th - Iosif Chugoshvili (Belarus); 7th - Darzi Babanjanzadeh (Iran); 8th - Yuri Patrikeev (Armenia); 9th - Dremiel Byers (USA); 10th - Lukasz Banak (Poland)

2011 World Championships
120 kg/264.4 lbs. – Gold - Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); Silver - Mijain Lopez (Cuba); Bronze - Nurmakhan Tinaliyev (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Bashir Asgari Babanjazadeh Darzi (Iran); 5th - Mihály Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 5th - Lukasz Banak (Poland); 7th - Xenofon Koutsioumpas (Greece); 8th - Ivan Ivanov (Bulgaria); 9th - Yuri Patrikeev (Armenia); 10th - Aleksandr Anuchin (Russia)

2010 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Gold – Mijain Lopez (Cuba); Silver – Youri Patrikeev (Armenia); Bronze – Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); Bronze – Nurmakhan Tinaliev (Kazakhstan); 5th – Dremiel Byers (United States); 5th – Marek Svec (Czech Republic); 7th – Khassan Baroev (Russia); 8th – Lukasz Banak (Poland); 9th – Johan Magnus Euren (Sweden); 10th – Guram Pherselidze (Georgia)

2009 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Gold - Mijain Lopez Nunez (Cuba); Silver - Dremiel Byers (USA); Bronze - Jalmar Sjoeberg (Sweden); Bronze - Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); 5th - Nico Schmidt (Germany); 5th - Ioseb Chugoshvili (Belarus); 7th - Aleksandr Anunchin (Russia); 8th – Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 9th - Rafael Barreno (Venezuela); 10th - Marek Svec (Czech Republic)

2008 Olympics Games
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Gold - Mijain Lopez (Cuba); Silver - Khasan Baroev (Russia); Bronze - Mindaugas Mizgaitis (Lithuania); Bronze - Yuri Patrikeev (Armenia); 5th - Yannick Szczepaniak (France); 5th - Jalmar Sjoberg (Sweden); 7th - Dremiel Byers (USA); 8th - Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 9th - Liu Deli (China); 10th - Anton Botev (Azerbaijan)

2007 World Championships 
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Gold - Mijain Lopez (Cuba); Silver - Khassan Baroev (Russia); Bronze - Dremiel Byers (United States); Bronze - Yuri Patrikeev (Armenia); 5th - Yannick Szczepaniak (France); 5th – Mihaly Deak Bardos (Hungary); 7th - Iosef Chugoshvili (Belarus); 8th –David Saldadze (Uzbekistan); 9th - Georgiy Tsurtsumia (Kazakhstan); 10th – Muradyan Tuichiev (Tajikistan)

2006 World Championships 
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Gold - Khasan Baroev (Russia); Silver - Mijian Lopez (Cuba); Bronze - Sergei Artsiukin (Belarus); Bronze - Ismail Guzel (Turkey); 5th - Jalmar Sjoberg (Sweden); 5th - Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 7th - Masoud Hashemzadeh (Iran); 8th - David Vala (Czech Republic); 9th - Dremiel Byers (United States); 10th - Mizgaitis Mindaugas (Lithuania)

2005 World Championships 
120 kg/264.5 lbs.- Gold - Mijian Lopez (Cuba); Silver - Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); Bronze - Sergei Artsiukin (Belarus); Bronze - Yetka Yilmaz (Turkey); 5th - Georgi Tsursumia (Kazakhstan); 5th - Mindaugas Mizgaitis (Lithuania); 7th - Juha Ahokas (Finland); 8th - Kostayantyn Stryzhak (Ukraine); 9th - David Vala (Czech Republic); 10th - Serguei Mourieko (Bulgaria)