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Jordan Burroughs Has His Next Opponent

Former Husker and Olympic champ Burroughs will face off against two-time NCAA Champion Zahid Valencia all the way up at 185 pounds

World Wrestling Championships
Jordan Burroughs, seen here in a match at the 2017 World Championships, will wrestle former college standout Zahid Valencia, who is currently the No. 7-ranked wrestler in the world at 86 kg.
Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images

Over the weekend at the Who’s #1 event put on by FloWrestling, which saw a pair of future Huskers compete, news was announced that Flo was pitting Jordan Burroughs against Zahid Valencia in a big-time matchup on Nov. 14.

Now, to the casual fan or even the casual observer, that name Zahid Valencia doesn’t ring much of a bell. He went to Arizona State, so he never really tangled with the Huskers much outside of an occasional tournament. But trust me, as a wrestling fan, my initial reaction to the news (which was being billed as “Zahid Valencia will wrestle on Nov. 14, wait to see who his opponent will be...”) went something like this.

Two things make this matchup extremely interesting. First, Valencia is young at just 23 years old and on his way up, while Burroughs is getting older for a world-class wrestler at 32. Second, this matchup is all the way up at 185 pounds. When they were getting ready to announce who Valencia’s opponent would be, I never would have thought it would be Burroughs. Mainly based on the size difference.

This matchup, if you follow UFC at all, is similar to what we’d see if former Light Heavyweight Champ Jon Jones moves up to heavyweight as he’s indicated. Valencia will be the bigger man when he hits the mat against Burroughs, and it’ll be noticable.

Valencia is the second-ranked wrestler in the USA at 86 kg, behind just World No. 1-ranked David Taylor. He won NCAA titles as a sophomore and junior and was considered the best overall wrestler in college for Arizona State this past season before he was suspended for failing a drug test for a recreational drug in February. He went 121-3 in his college career with two of his three losses coming to former Penn State national champion Mark Hall. In his freshman year, the only year he didn’t win a national championship, Valencia went undefeated before a 4-3 loss to Hall in the semifinal round at NCAAs.

Don’t misunderstand, Valencia did deliver blows of his own to Hall as well. Here’s Valencia downing the Nittany Lion in 2019 to win his second straight NCAA Championship.

In freestyle wrestling, which is what this matchup will be, Valencia is a three-time Junior World Team Member and a 2017 Junior World silver-medalist. Valencia won Senior Nationals in 2019 with a 7-5 decision in the final against Myles Martin, a former NCAA champion from Ohio State who’s ranked No. 10 in the world at 86 kg.

Most recently, Valencia won the Matteo Pellicone International Tournament. He won by tech fall in both matches before downing Team USA teammate Alex Dieringer 7-5 in the final.

But don’t let that all fool you. I think Burroughs is just way to good and will probably put it on the young Valencia. Granted, Valencia is probably the future of USA Wrestling at 86 kg. But to dethrone the champ, albeit at a weight that’s less than advantageous for Burroughs, Valencia will need a serious performance.

Don’t get me wrong, this is absolutely a match that Burroughs could lose. He wrestles at 74 kg, which is 163 pounds. This match will be contested at 185 pounds, as Valencia normally wrestles at 86 kg, which would be about 189 pounds. That’s a 26-pound difference in their designated weight classes.

Burroughs could be eating a steak on the scale and not worry about missing weight. As I went into great detail here, Burroughs is a four-time World Champion and an Olympic Gold Medalist. He won a pair of NCAA titles of his own too.

This matchup will be a fun one to watch with the added dynamic that comes from such a size discrepancy. But I see Burroughs still doing Burroughs things, with a couple bulldozing double-leg takedowns to show the young guy who’s still the best in the game. Burroughs’ speed will be too much for the larger, slower Valencia.

Will probably go something like this.