Vyshnyvetskyi, Hasanli avenge losses to rivals, reach U23 European finals

By United World Wrestling Press

BAKU, Azerbaijan (May 20) -- The last time Mykhailo VYSHNYVETSKYI (UKR) faced Muhammet BAKIR (TUR), it ended in a bruising defeat that also deprived him of a world title. On Monday, he avenged that loss. And in doing so, the Greco-Roman wrestler has given himself a chance to defend his U23 European Championship crown in the 130kg category.

The first day of the continental age-group championship in Baku saw the third installment in a little more than a year of the riveting rivalry between two of the finest U23 wrestlers in this weight category.

When they met in the semifinals of the U23 European Championship in March 2023, Vyshnyvetskyi prevailed over his Turkish opponent in what turned out to be a lopsided bout. When the duo faced off later that year at the U23 World Championship, Bakir returned the favor in style, defeating his nemesis in the gold medal bout.

So, when the draws were out for the Greco-Roman bouts, it was hardly a surprise that the re-match between Vyshnyvetskyi and Bakir was one of the most anticipated matches of the day. And it lived up to the hype, although not in a way Bakir would have liked.

Vyshnyvetskyi beat his Turkish opponent 9-1 to advance to the final. Bakir had his chance when he got the par terre advantage in the first period but Vyshnyvetskyi stood up. Bakir was trying to lock his arms around the Ukrainian when Vyshnyvetskyi hit a four-pointer grabbing one of Bakir's arms. Turkiye challenged but to no avail, adding one more point to Vyshnyvetskyi's score for the lost challenge.

Vyshnyvetskyi used another four-pointer when the two were in a bear-hug position to finish the bout 9-1 in two minutes and 13 seconds.

It was a day when the Ukrainian wrestler hardly had to break a sweat. He began with a 2-1 win over Marcel ALBINI (CZE) in the qualification round, then pinned Dominik KRAWCZYK (POL) after leading 12-1 in the quarterfinals before he got the job done against Bakir in the last-four round.

Vyshnyvetskyi will take on Koppany LASZLO (HUN) in the final. The 18-year-old from Hungary got the better of Dmitrii BABORYKO (AIN) to reach Tuesday's gold medal match.

Khasay HASANLI (AZE)Khasay HASANLI (AZE) tries to score on Alexandrin GUTU (MDA) in the 77kg semifinal at the U23 European Championships. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

This wasn't the only bout on Monday that had a gripping backstory and ended with one of the wrestlers getting his revenge.

In the 77kg weight class, Khasay HASANLI (AZE) stunned the reigning world and European U23 champion Alexandrin GUTU (MDA) 7-0 to set up a final encounter with Yuksel SARICICEK (TUR).

Like Vyshnyvetskyi and Bakir, this was part three of the rivalry between Hasanli and Gutu. In fact, it was a rivalry only on paper as the Moldovan wrestler had defeated his Azerbaijani opponent twice. On both those occasions, it was in the finals: in the U23 European Championships last year, Gutu won 6-3 and at the U23 Worlds later, he won the gold with a 3-1 win.

Competing in front of his home crowd, the 22-year-old didn't concede a single point as he turned the tables in style. In the semifinal against Gutu, Hasanli got the par terre position and scored two points for a correct throw. Gutu was docked two caution points for committing a defensive foul and was put in par terre. Hasanli did not make any big moves but Gutu was cautioned again for a leg foul, ending the bout due to his two cautions.

Hasanli wasn't the only one with a chance to win a gold medal in front of his own supporters. In the 63kg category, Ziya BABASHOV (AZE) beat Abere FETENE (ISR) 5-3 to give himself a fighting chance of winning a title, when he faces off against the U23 World and European Championships bronze medallist Vitalie ERIOMENCO (MDA).

Babashov, a 2022 senior European Championship silver medallist, began with a convincing 4-1 win over Mairbek SALIMOV (POL) and followed it up with another comfortable victory, this time over Talibsho KHAIBARAU (AIN).

The march to the final marks an improvement for Babashov, who made exits in the round of 16 at the U23 European and World Championships in 2023. However, in Eriomenco, he faces a formidable opponent, who gave up just two points en route to the final.

Meanwhile, in the 55 kg category, Adam ULBASHEV (AIN) upset defending champion Denis MIHAI (ROU) 3-2 in a close quarterfinal bout. However, he later lost 6-5 to Emre MUTLU (TUR) in the semifinals in an equally tough encounter.

Mutlu, the European Championship gold medallist in 2022, will wrestle Giorgi TOKHADZE (GEO) for the gold medal on Tuesday. Tokhadze beat Ivan STEFANSKYI (UKR) 13-4 in his first bout and followed it up with a commanding 8-0 win over Rashad MAMMADOV (AIN).

In the 87kg class, Aues GONIBOV (AIN) will take on Achiko BOLKVADZE (GEO) in the final. Gonibov did not concede a single point on his way to the gold medal bout. He started with a 9-0 win over Nikolaos IOSIFIDIS (GRE) and then defeated former U23 world champion Exauce MUKUBU (NOR) 3-0 in the quarterfinals. In the semis, he got the better of Samet YALDIRAN (TUR) 2-0.

Bolkvadze's road to the final was a little more complicated, as he had to overcome stiff competition posed by Ilya MIALESHCHYK (AIN) before beating him 8-4 and sealing his spot in the title round.





SF 1: Giorgi TOKHADZE (GEO) df. Rashad MAMMADOV (AZE), 8-0
SF 2: Emre MUTLU (TUR) df. Adam ULBASHEV (AIN), 6-5


SF 1: Vitalie ERIOMENCO (MDA) df. Aleksandr ANDREEV (AIN), via fall (2-2
SF 2: Ziya BABASHOV (AZE) df. Abere FETENE (ISR), 5-3


SF 1: Khasay HASANLI (AZE) df. Alexandrin GUTU (MDA), via cautions (7-0)
SF 2: Yuksel SARICICEK (TUR) df. Attila TOESMAGI (HUN), 5-2


SF 1: Aues GONIBOV (AIN) df. Samet YALDIRAN (TUR), 2-0
SF 2: Achiko BOLKVADZE (GEO) df. Ilya MIALESHCHYK (AIN), 8-4


SF 1: Mykhailo VYSHNYVETSKYI (UKR) df. Muhammet BAKIR (TUR), 9-1
SF 2: Koppany LASZLO (HUN) df. Dmitrii BABORYKO (AIN), 1-1


Gadzhiev returns to top with gold at U23 Europeans

By United World Wrestling Press

BAKU, Azerbaijan (May 26) --  Only a minute and 16 seconds were remaining on the clock when Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE) and Kamil ABDULVAGABOV (AIN) retreated to their respective corners. Their bleeding faces required medical intervention.

As the doctors patched them up, both wrestlers could not wait to return to the mat to resume their thrilling 74kg U23 European Championship gold medal bout. Understandably so. Both the wrestlers felt the momentum was their way, and each one knew he had a good chance to win the gold.

The final day of the competition was providing the right kind of fireworks.

At that stage, when the medical timeout was taken, Gadzhiev was 6-3 ahead but Abdulvagabov was on the ascendency, fighting his way back into the bout which seemed a lost cause not too long ago. That break would eventually prove to be crucial.

The physical differences between the two were glaring. Lean and gifted with long limbs, Abdulvagabov was at least a head higher than Gadzhiev and he tried to use the height factor to his advantage. He planted his left leg so far back that it became out of reach for Gadzhiev and each time the Azerbaijani tried too hard, a counter-attacking opportunity would arise.

Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE)Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE) scores a crucial four-pointer in the 74kg final. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Javid Gurbanov)

Gadzhiev raided Abdulvagabov’s defense with multiple single-leg attacks, targeting his right leg, which was relatively closer. But each time Gadzhiev caught his opponent’s right ankle, Abdulvagabov used his physical might to ensure it couldn’t be converted into a takedown.

This trend repeated several times, with Gadzhiev going all-out employing single-leg takedowns and ankle trips. But Abdulvagabov looked hardly troubled. Until the Azerbaijani wrestler surprised him with a feet-to-back throw, slamming Abdulvagabov on his mat from a standing position in a dramatic move to be awarded four points.

When the bout was halted for the first medical timeout, Abdulvagabov was trailing 6-3. He reduced the deficit to one point by two stepouts, and with 16 seconds left, the match was paused for another medical timeout to treat both wrestlers who again started bleeding.

Abdulvagabov threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Gadzhiev but the match-winning two-point throw that he sought never came. Gadzhiev used the sprawls to good effect, doing just enough to win the bout 6-5.

The 22-year-old ran to his corner to celebrate the gold medal which came after a long drought. The 2022 U23 European Champion and U20 World and European Champion endured a difficult last year in which he earned a couple of podium finishes but a title eluded him.

He started this year strongly with a bronze medal at the Ranking Series in Zagreb and the gold medal here will come as a huge confidence booster. It was also Azerbaijan’s only gold medal in men’s freestyle at this competition.

Arslan BAGAEV (AIN)Arslan BAGAEV (AIN) blanked defending champion Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA) 10-0 in the 86kg final. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Javid Gurbanov)

Bagaev stuns Magamadov

In the 86kg category, Arslan BAGAEV (AIN) built on his fifth-place finish at the senior European Championships with a remarkable gold medal.

Bagaev conceded just one point, scored 25, and spent a little less than 12 minutes on the mat for his first-ever title since winning the U20 European Championship gold in 2021.

The manner in which Bagaev won was stunning. He was up against defending champion Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA), whose trophy cabinet in age-group events is brimming with medals. But the moment the referee began the bout, Bagaev stopped caring about reputations.

Magamadov looked stronger in the opening exchanges and launched the first leg attack, which Bagaev escaped. Bagaev waited for Magamadov to come searching for his leg again. When he did, a little after one minute, the 20-year-old used his quick reflexes to evade Magamadov’s advances and then launched a blistering counterattack, affecting three roll-overs to earn three points.

In between the second and third roll-over, Magamadov held his face and signaled that he was hurt. The doctors, who were kept busy all evening, rushed to treat him but the break in momentum didn’t impact Bagaev, who finished the bout with a two-point takedown.

Alen KHUBULOV (BUL)Alen KHUBULOV (BUL), right, won the 125kg title after beating Solomon MANASHVILI (GEO). (Photo: United World Wrestling / Javid Gurbanov)

Maiden titles for Khubulov, Bliatze

Bagaev wasn’t the only wrestler who won his first-ever U23 European Championship title.

At 125kg, Alen KHUBULOV (BUL) made a stunning comeback to beat Solomon MANASHVILI (GEO) 6-5 in another dramatic bout to win the gold medal.

Khubulov had overturned a two-point deficit with a couple of well-timed leg attacks. But with around 40 seconds remaining, Manashvili again took the lead with a two-point takedown. Khubulov responded almost immediately, scoring two more points via exposure to restore his lead and then clung to it desperately to clinch the gold medal.

Minutes earlier, Gkivi BLIATZE (GRE) defeated Adlan VISKHANOV (FRA) 8-7 in a thrilling bout to reign supreme in the 92kg category. This was a momentous win for Bliatze, who has been competing on the circuit since 2018 but never came close to a podium finish. He ended the long wait in style by getting the better of the 2023 U23 European Championship bronze medallist in an action-filled bout.

In 61kg, Bashir MAGOMEDOV (AIN) defended his gold medal with a clinical performance against Mykyta ABRAMOV (UKR), winning 10-0.



GOLD: Bashir MAGOMEDOV (AIN) df. Mykyta ABRAMOV (UKR), 10-0

BRONZE: Nuraddin NOVRUZOV (AZE) df. Yahor RUDAUSKI (AIN), 13-12
BRONZE: Emre KURAL (TUR) df. Simone PIRODDU (ITA), 4-3

GOLD: Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE) df. Kamil ABDULVAGABOV (AIN), 6-5

BRONZE: Ibrahim YAPRAK (TUR) df. Krisztian BIRO (ROU), 6-4

GOLD: Arslan BAGAEV (AIN) df. Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA), 10-0

BRONZE: Arsenii DZHIOEV (AZE) df. Miko ELKALA (FIN), 11-0


BRONZE: Mustafagadzhi MALACHDIBIROV (AIN) df. Muhammed GIMRI (TUR), 6-2


BRONZE: Milan KORCSOG (HUN) df. Volodymyr KOCHANOV (UKR), 8-1
BRONZE: Abdulla KURBANOV (AIN) df. Adil MISIRCI (TUR), 12-8