Owning an absolutely absurd career senior-level record of 218-15, Jordan Burroughs returns to the mat early Thursday morning to defend his 2021 World Championship at 79 kg in Belgrade, Serbia. In what will be his 11th World/Olympic team, Burroughs currently sits in a tie with American great John Smith with six World/Olympic gold medals. With one more title, Burroughs will find himself at the top of the American heap and will only strengthen his argument that he is the best American wrestler of all time.
The King is back on the throne!— FloWrestling (@FloWrestling) October 4, 2021
Jordan Burroughs wins his 6th World/Olympic gold medal and ties John Smith. #GOAT
Burroughs takes the mat Thursday morning at 3:30 a.m. Central Standard Time and will wrestle through the quarterfinal round. The semifinal round will be wrestled at 9:45 a.m.
Then on Friday, the medal rounds will take place from 11 a.m. through 2 p.m.
Action can be seen live on FloWrestling, but there’s a subscription required. So, just tune back here to Corn Nation for the full recap.
How He Got Here
Burroughs has been one of the best wrestlers in the world at 74 kg ever since winning his first world title just months after graduating from college in 2011. After winning that first world title, Burroughs went on to win an Olympic gold medal in 2012 in London. Then in 2013, Burroughs broke his ankle and had to have it surgically repaired just four weeks before Worlds. He wrestled anyway, winning his third gold medal in dominant fashion despite the injury. He outscored his opponents 34-3 on his way to gold.
Then in 2014, Burroughs suffered his first international loss when he fell to Russia’s Denis Tsargush 9-2 at the World Championships. Burroughs went on to wrestle back for bronze, giving him his fourth World/Olympic medal.
Burroughs got back to the top of the World podium in 2015 before failing to medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, where he went 1-2 and suffered the only tech fall loss of his career, an 11-1 loss to Uzbekistan’s Bekzod Abdurakhmonov. It is the only World or Olympic tournament where Burroughs has not won a medal.
After the setback in Rio, Burroughs rebounded in 2017 with his fifth gold medal at Worlds. Then the Husker great earned bronze medals in both 2018 and 2019 at Worlds, falling both times to Russia’s Zaurbek Sidakov (6-5 in 2018 and 4-3 in 2019).
Then as he was eyeing a third Olympic team, the pandemic of 2020 pushed the Olympics to the following year. In the summer of 2021, Burroughs failed to make an Olympic/World team at 74 kg for the first time in his career, as Kyle Dake beat him twice at Final X to earn the Olympic bid.
With that loss to Dake, which seemed like a passing of the torch at 74 kg, Burroughs rebounded as he moved up to 79 kg and made the World team. Then he went on to win his sixth gold medal in October of 2021 in Oslo, Norway. Nursing a torn calf that he injured at the World Team Trials, Burroughs largely made it look easy.
This summer, Burroughs punched his ticket to another World Championships when he beat Chance Marsteller in a best-of-three series at Final X in New York. He is now 21-1 since moving up to 79 kg with his only loss to Marsteller 2-2 on criteria.
Now, Burroughs doesn’t boast the 100% gold medal rate that John Smith had (he went 6-for-6), but he’s got nine World/Olympic medals and is undefeated in medal matches.
Jordan Burroughs is 9-0 in World/Olympic medal matches.— Andy Hamilton (@Andy_Hamilton) October 4, 2021
2011 - World gold
2012 - Olympic gold
2013 - World gold
2014 - World bronze
2015 - World gold
2017 - World gold
2018 - World bronze
2019 - World bronze
2021 - World gold
The road to gold at 79 kg
This year’s field is largely similar to the one Burroughs navigated a year ago.
Here are the preliminary seeds at 79 kg, via United World Wrestling.
No .1 Jordan Ernest BURROUGHS (USA)
No. 2 Mohammad Ashghar NOKHODILARIMI (IRI)
No. 3 Georgios KOUGIOUMTSIDIS (GRE)
No. 4 Arman AVAGYAN (ARM)
No. 5 Vladimeri GAMKRELIDZE (GEO)
No. 6 Muhammet AKDENIZ (TUR)
No. 7 Saifedine ALEKMA (FRA)
No. 8 Baliyan GOURAV (IND)
It looks as if the greatest threat to Burroughs will be 2-seed Mohammad Nokhodilarimi of Iran, especially with Russia and Bulgaria not competing this year due to an international ban by the UWW. Burroughs defeated Nokhodilarimi 5-1 in last year’s World final. Only 21 years old, Nokhodilarimi had a stellar 2021 as he won a Junior gold medal before taking silver at the Senior level.
Burroughs will also have to contend with 3-seed Georgios Kougioumtsidis of Greece, the 2022 European Champion. Also of note from the pool of seeded wrestlers is India’s Baliyan Gourav, the 8-seed and a silver-medalist at the 2022 Asian Championships.
The 4-seed, Arman Avagyan of Armenia is a medal threat after finishing in 5th-place at last year’s World Championships.
Many of the other possible threats to Burroughs lie in the unseeded pool of wrestlers who will be randomly drawn into the bracket, so Burroughs could draw any of these names in the first round.
Bekzod Abdurakhmonov of Uzbekistan is in there. Remember, he’s the man who handed Burroughs his only career tech fall loss at the 2016 Olympics at 74 kg. Abdurakhmonov was a 2021 Olympic bronze-medalist.
Azerbaijan’s Ashraf Ashirov was a 2022 silver-medalist at the European Championships, while Ukraine’s Vasyl Mykhailov won both the Matteo Pellicone and Ziolkowski tournaments this summer. Slovakia’s Akhsarbek Gulaev comes in as the 2021 European Champion but he did go 0-1 at Worlds last year.
How will it play out?
Now, this field is not as stout as many other weight classes, and Burroughs is the heavy favorite to win the gold medal, but that doesn’t mean that none of these guys can’t pull the upset.
If these seeds hold, Burroughs is looking at likely matchups with India’s 8-seed Gourav in the quarterfinal round before taking on 4-seed Avagyan of Armenia in the semis.
Burroughs should coast into the final where he’ll likely meet Nokhodilarimi again. While the Iranian is solid and has a lot of potential at such a young age, I just don’t see someone as inexperienced as him taking down Burroughs in a gold-medal match with so much on the line for his legacy.