U.S. Greco-Roman standout Ildar Hafizov executes an arm throw against Denis Mihai of Romania at the Zagreb Open.
Kostadin Andonov, United World Wrestling

U.S. Greco-Roman standout Ildar Hafizov executes an arm throw against Denis Mihai of Romania at the Zagreb Open.


Olympians Hafizov, Sebie earn fifth place in Greco-Roman to conclude U.S. efforts at Zagreb Open

by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

ZAGREB, Croatia – Action wrapped for the U.S. delegation at the Zagreb Open, United World Wrestling’s first Ranking Series event of the Olympic year, with a pair of fifth place finishes in the Greco-Roman division courtesy of Olympians Ildar Hafizov and Mahmoud Sebie.

In the 60 kg bronze medal match, Hafizov was served a true litmus test of where he stacks up at the weight class on the World stage. The two-time Olympian battled 2022 World silver medalist and reigning European champion Edmond Nazaryan of Bulgaria in a match that came down to the final exchange.

The first period saw high-level hand fighting, with both men going back-and-forth with elbow control ties and underhooks. Nazaryan was awarded the first chance on top, where he was dinged for a leg foul on a high gut wrench attempt. Heading into the second period down 1-0, Hafizov picked up his pace, was granted his chance on top, but couldn’t separate with a turn. Nazaryan came back with a duck under takedown and iced the match with a takedown in the final seconds to defeat the American, 5-1.

Hafizov finished with an impressive 2-2 record in an exceedingly deep bracket. He picked up technical fall wins over 2022 U20 World silver medalist Denis Mihai of Romania and Leon Tudezca of France, who was seventh at last year’s World Championships. His only losses came at the hands of World medalists, Nazaryan and 2021 World champion Victor Ciobanu of Moldova.

This fifth place run at the Zagreb Open extends a solid streak of outings for Hafizov. He won the prestigious Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, last November and followed with a Senior Nationals title last month in Fort Worth, Texas. Hafizov will represent the U.S. at the Pan American Olympic Games Qualifier next month as he attempts to qualify the U.S. at 60 kg for Paris.

Moving up to 82 kg, Sebie let one slip away in his bronze medal match against 2022 U20 World champion Deni Nakaev of Germany, falling by a 6-2 decision that could have gone either way.

After grabbing the early par terre advantage, Sebie forced a low gut wrench toss from the top position that didn’t score. The U.S. corner unsuccessfully challenged the call, giving Nakaev a 1-1 criteria lead at the break. In the second frame, a Sebie arm spin takedown was challenged and reversed, sending the momentum the way of Nakaev. The German got his chance on top and converted with a four-point lift, essentially icing the match.

Sebie is targeting an Olympic comeback after recently transferring from Egypt to the U.S. for a run at the Paris Games. He recently finished in second place at the U.S. Senior Nationals and looks to be one of the top contenders at 82 kg come the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

Four more U.S. Greco-Roman competitors took the mats in Zagreb on Sunday but were unable to reach the medal round.

2018 World silver medalist Adam Coon dropped a 3-2 decision to Ukraine’s two-time Olympian and 2015 World bronze medalist Oleksandr Chernetskyy in his only bout at 130 kg.

A duo of past U.S. World Team members competed in the 97 kg bracket. Alan Vera posted a 1-1 record on the day with a 5-5 criteria win over Serhii Omelin of Ukraine, followed by an 8-0 loss to Alex Szoke of Hungary. Josef Rau dropped a tough 2-0 contest to Peter Oehler of Germany in his lone match of the tournament.

U.S. National Team member Hayden Tuma fell to reigning World bronze medalist Liguo Cao of China by 9-1 technical fall at 60 kg.

Complete brackets and match-by-match results for all three international styles are available through UWW Arena. Archived matches of the event are available to the U.S. audience on FloWrestling.com.

Zagreb Open, UWW Ranking Series

At Zagreb, Croatia, Jan. 10-14

Greco-Roman results

Team standings

1. Azerbaijan, 85

2. Turkey, 81

3. Hungary, 75

4. Sweden, 50

5. Georgia, 45

6. Ukraine, 43

7. Serbia, 40

8. Germany, 35

9. France, 34

10. Finland, 28

55 kg

Gold – Adem Uzun (Turkey)

Silver – Maksim Stupakevich (Individual Neutral Athlete)

Gold – Adem Uzun (Turkey) tech. fall Maksim Stupakevich (Individual Neutral Athlete), 10-2

60 kg

Gold – Sadyk Lalaev (Individual Neutral Athlete)

Silver – Victor Ciobanu (Moldova)

Bronze – Anvar Allakhiarov (Individual Neutral Athlete)

Bronze – Edmond Nazaryan (Bulgaria)

5th – Ihor Kurochkin (Ukraine)

5th – Ildar Hafizov (United States)

7th – Hleb Makaranka (Individual Neutral Athlete)

8th – Leon Tudezca (France)

9th – Liguo Cao (China)

10th – Denis Mihai (Romania)

Gold – Sadyk Lalaev (Individual Neutral Athlete) inj. def. Victor Ciobanu (Moldova), 0:03

Bronze – Anvar Allakhiarov (Individual Neutral Athlete) tech. fall Ihor Kurochkin (Ukraine), 9-0

Bronze – Edmond Nazaryan (Bulgaria) dec. Ildar Hafizov (United States), 5-1

72 kg

Gold – Ulvi Ganizade (Azerbaijan)

Silver – Levente Levai (Hungary)

Bronze – Dominik Etlinger (Croatia)

Bronze – Muhammed Gocmen (Turkey)

5th – Calebe Correa Ferreira (Brazil)

5th – Iulian Lungu (Romania)

7th – Krisztofer Klanyi (Hungary)

8th – Luka Malobabic (Croatia)

9th – Aaron Bellscheidt (Germany)

10th – Michael Portmann (Switzerland)

Gold – Ulvi Ganizade (Azerbaijan) dec. Levente Levai (Hungary), 7-0

Bronze – Dominik Etlinger (Croatia) tech. fall Calebe Correa Ferreira (Brazil), 9-0

Bronze – Muhammed Gocmen (Turkey) tech. fall Iulian Lungu (Romania), 9-0

82 kg

Gold – Erik Szilvassy (Hungary)

Silver – Alperen Berber (Turkey)

Bronze – Deni Nakaev (Germany)

Bronze – Mats Ahlgren (Sweden)

5th – Mahmoud Sebie (United States)

5th – Tornike Dzamashvili (Georgia)

7th – Vasile Cojoc (Romania)

8th – Timmy Skoeld (Sweden)

9th – Roland Schwarz (Germany)

10th – Karlo Kodric (Croatia)

Gold – Erik Szilvassy (Hungary) dec. Alperen Berber (Turkey), 5-0

Bronze – Deni Nakaev (Germany) dec. Mahmoud Sebie (United States), 6-2

Bronze – Mats Ahlgren (Sweden) dec. Tornike Dzamashvili (Georgia), 6-3

97 kg

Gold – Abubakar Khaslakhanau (Individual Neutral Athlete)

Silver – Arvi Savolainen (Finland)

Bronze – Aleksandar Stjepanetic (Sweden)

Bronze – Pavel Hlinchuk (Individual Neutral Athlete)

5th – Murad Ahmadiyev (Azerbaijan)

5th – Alex Szoke (Hungary)

7th – Artur Omarov (Czech Republic)

8th – Peter Oehler (Germany)

9th – Nikoloz Kakhelashvili (Italy)

10th – Vilius Laurinaitis (Lithuania)

Gold – Abubakar Khaslakhanau (Individual Neutral Athlete) tech. fall Arvi Savolainen (Finland), 11-2

Bronze – Aleksandar Stjepanetic (Sweden) dec. Murad Ahmadiyev (Azerbaijan), 3-2

Bronze – Pavel Hlinchuk (Individual Neutral Athlete) forfeit Alex Szoke (Hungary)

130 kg

Gold – Fardin Hedayati (Iran)

Silver – Lingzhe Meng (China)

Bronze – Dariusz Vitek (Hungary)

Bronze – Mantas Knystautas (Lithuania)

5th – Beka Kandelaki (Azerbaijan)

5th – Laszlo Darabos (Hungary)

7th – Franz Richter (Germany)

8th – Oscar Pino Hinds (Cuba)

9th – Konsta Maeenpaeae (Finland)

10th – Oleksandr Chernetskyy (Ukraine)

Gold – Fardin Hedayati (Iran) dec. Lingzhe Meng (China), 3-1

Bronze – Dariusz Vitek (Hungary) dec. Beka Kandelaki (Azerbaijan), 7-4

Bronze – Mantas Knystautas (Lithuania) forfeit Laszlo Darabos (Hungary)

U.S. Greco-Roman results

60 kg – Ildar Hafizov (Colorado Springs, Colo./Army WCAP), 5th place

WIN Denis Mihai (Romania), tech. fall, 8-0

LOSS Victor Ciobanu (Moldova), fall, 5:16

WIN Leon Tudezca (France), tech. fall, 10-2

LOSS Edmond Nazaryan (Bulgaria), 5-1

60 kg – Hayden Tuma (Nampa, Idaho/New York AC), 20th place

LOSS Liguo Cao (China), tech. fall, 9-1

82 kg – Mahmoud Sebie (Dania, Fla./New York AC), 5th place

WIN Roland Schwarz (Germany), 7-3

LOSS Alperen Berber (Turkey), 4-2

LOSS Deni Nakaev (Germany), 6-2

97 kg – Alan Vera (Guttenberg, N.J./New York AC), 17th place

WIN Serhii Omelin (Ukraine), 5-5

LOSS Alex Szoke (Hungary), tech. fall, 8-0

97 kg – Josef Rau (Chicago, Ill./Titan Mercury WC/USOPTC), 30th place

LOSS Peter Oehler (Germany), 2-0

130 kg – Adam Coon (Fowlerville, Mich./New York AC/Cliff Keen WC), 16th place

LOSS Oleksandr Chernetskyy (Ukraine), 3-2

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