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Looking back at ten of the best matches from the quarantine card era

by Mike Willis, USA Wrestling

With quarantine winding down, wrestling is almost back in full swing in most states. However, over the past 15 months, there were times when very little wrestling was occurring, and even our top Senior-level athletes had a hard time finding ways to get in training and live matches.

The wrestling community responded in resilient fashion with established organizations FloWrestling and Trackwrestling, as well as newcomers like Rokfin and Fite.TV, collaborating with Regional Training Centers displaying ingenuity and creating their own events for wrestlers to compete in while still following the appropriate local COVID-19 mandates.

 Below, let’s take a look at ten of the top matches from the quarantine era:

10. Nolan Baker TF Lenny Merkin, 13-4, at Capitol Cup (February 27, 2021 on Greco United’s Rokfin channel)
Watch Baker vs. Merkin on Rokfin

This bout was the finals match in the inaugural Capitol Cup, an eight-man 67 kg bracket hosted by Greco United. Baker trailed, 4-3, at the break, but busted the match wide open in the second period.

9. Jaydin Eierman DEC Vladimer Khinchegashvili, 4-1, at Hawkeye WC Showdown 1 (November 1, 2020 on Trackwrestling)
Watch Eierman vs. Khinchegashvili on Trackwrestling

Eierman uses two beautiful takedowns to knock off Georgia’s Olympic champion.

8. Joe Rau DEC Pat Downey, 9-4, at Rumble on the Rooftop (June 28, 2020 on Fite.TV)
Watch Rau vs. Downey on Fite.TV

This match went down on the first quarantine card. It was a hybrid rule set, with half of the match wrestled in freestyle and half of the match wrestled in Greco. Rau held his own in freestyle and dominated the Greco portion to defeat the former freestyle World Team member Downey.

7. Jennifer Page DEC Desiree Zavala, 14- 10, at Nittany Lion WC 1 (September 19, 2020 on NLWC’s Rokfin)
Watch Page vs. Zavala on Rokfin

Page battled back from the brink of being tech-falled to take out National Team member Zavala in an all-out battle.

6. Joe Colon DEC Seth Gross, 21-15, at Beat the Streets Virtual Telethon (September 17, 2020 on FloWrestling)
Watch Colon vs. Gross on USA Wrestling’s YouTube channel

There’s always fireworks when these two wrestle. Their slugfest at Beat the Streets is can’t miss wrestling.

5. Ben Provisor DEC RaVaughn Perkins, 10-9, at Wrestling Underground 1 (August 30, 2020 on UFC Fight Pass)

I’m convinced that the folks who say “Greco is boring” don’t actually watch Greco-Roman wrestling. This match was awesome, especially the first period where the bulk of the points were scored. I wasn’t able to track down the footage from this match, but it might still be available if you are a UFC Fight Pass member.

4. Kyle Dake DEC Frank Chamizo, 4-3, at FloWrestling 1 (July 25, 2020 on FloWrestling)
Watch Dake vs. Chamizo on FloWrestling’s YouTube channel

A preview of the 74 kg Olympic final? Possibly. This bout featured two of the best wrestlers on the planet (with four World titles between them) squaring off in an entertaining hard-fought battle.

3. Jordan Burroughs DEC Zahid Valencia, 8-5, at FloWrestling 2 (Nov 14, 2020 on FloWrestling)
Watch Burroughs vs. Valencia on FloWrestling

Burroughs already cemented his status as one of the American GOATs. While this was only an exhibition, bumping up 20 pounds and outpacing one of the brightest rising stars on the Senior level is darn impressive and should add to his already storied legacy.

2. David Taylor DEC Jordan Burroughs, 4-4 at FloWrestling 4 (January 13, 2021 on FloWrestling)
Watch Taylor vs. Burroughs on FloWrestling

If you put this match in the No. 1 spot, I wouldn’t argue too hard with you. Burroughs once again bumps up to take on an absolute monster in 2018 World champion David Taylor. The duo put on a heck of a show, renewing their rivalry for the first time in over six years.

1. Tamyra Mensah-Stock DEC Adeline Gray, 4-0, at FloWrestling 3 (January 9, 2021 on FloWrestling)
Watch Mensah-Stock vs. Gray on FloWrestling

Two returning World champions battled it out for the right to be called the pound for pound best women’s freestyle wrestler on the planet. Mensah-Stock moving up two weight-classes to defeat the illustrious Adeline Gray, the only five-time Senior World champion in U.S. history, is the stuff legends are made of. Fortunately for fans of the Red, White and Blue, we’ll be able to cheer on both wrestlers this summer as they chase gold at the Olympic Games.

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