Burroughs and Taylor add to their legends by winning World gold

Updated: September 16, 2022

Photos: Jordan Burroughs (left) showed the crowd in Stark Arena in Belgrade, Serbia, how many World championships he has won since 2011. David Taylor (right) meanwhile made sure everyone knew who was No. 1 between him and Iranian rival Hassan Yazdani after winning his second World championship on Friday. (Photos by Justin Hoch)

By Mike Finn

Jordan Burroughs and David Taylor had each earned Olympic and World championships before the two American men’s freestylers took to the mat Friday in Belgrade, Serbia. But each man did even more to add to their legacy by claiming gold medals at the 2022 UWW World Championships in Stark Arena.

Jordan Burroughs (right) displayed his power double in beating Iran’s Mohammad Nokhodilarimi for a second straight World final. (Justin Hoch photo).

Burroughs cemented his name as the greatest American wrestler of all-time as the 34-year-old native of New Jersey won the 79-kilogram championship. Burroughs’ 4-2 victory over Iran’s Mohammad Nokhodilarimi — for a second straight year — earned the former Nebraska college star a sixth World title.

And to go along with a 2012 Olympic gold medal, Burroughs passed John Smith — who had two Olympic gold and four World titles under his belt in the 1990s — for the most World/Olympic title by an American wrestler. The seventh title also puts Burroughs one past women’s freestyler Adeline Gray, who won her six crowns between 2012 and 2021.

Burroughs also now owns 10 World medals — trailing only Bruce Baumgartner’s 13 — as he also earned bronze medals in 2014, 2018 and 2019.

David Taylor now holds a 4-1 career advantage over Iran’s Hassan Yazdani in capturing his second World title at 86 kilos. (Justin Hoch photo)

Taylor, the 31-year-old former two-time NCAA champ from Penn State, avenged a 2021 Worlds final loss to Iran’s Hassan Yazdani, by beating his rival 7-1 to claim the 86-kilogram championship. Taylor now holds a 4-1 lifetime advantage over Yazdani. The four-time Ohio state champ also beat the Iranian to win titles in the 2018 Worlds and 2020 Olympics.

Burroughs and Taylor were among three Americans wrestling for gold on the first day of men’s freestyle medal matches. After an extremely dominant tournament, Zain Retherford lost in the finals and takes home for his first World medal .

Zain Retherford appeared ready to score on this high crotch against Taishi Narikuni in the final at 70 kilos. Instead the Japanese wrestler countered the move, then added four leg laces. (Justin Hoch photo)

Retherford, 27 and competing in his third Worlds and first since 2019, had gone unscored upon in his first four matches. Unfortunately, Japan’s Taishi Narikuni caught the former Penn State star in a leg lace and handed Retherford a technical-fall loss.

With two days remaining in in the men’s freestyle tournament, this continues to be a very successful World Championships for Team USA in men’s freestyle as three other Americans — who are all past World champions — reached gold-medal matches that will take place on Saturday in Stark Arena: Thomas Gilman (57k),  Kyle Dake (70k) and J’den Cox (92k).

The final three weight classes will be contested on Saturday as Seth Gross (61k), Yianni Diakomihalis (65k) and Kyle Snyder (97k) will compete in opening-round matches. The 2022 World Championships will come to an end on Sunday with the medal matches of those weights.

Earlier, the women’s freestyle team captured seven medals, including gold by Dom Parrish, Tamyra Mensah Stock and Amit Elor.

2022 UWW World Championships Men’s Freestyle

USA Results and Match Notes of American who wrestled Sept. 15-16

70k/154 pounds – Zain Retherford (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) – Silver

Prelim – won by TF over Kevin Henkel (Germany), 10-0, 3:59 – Competing in his first Worlds since 2019 when he wrestled at 65 kilos, the former Penn State star scored four takedowns, the final one off a low double that ended the match with 2:01 left. Retherford’s second takedown, a single, also led to a pair of leg-lace points.

1st round – pinned Marc Dietsche (Switzerland), 1:11 – Shortly after scoring the only takedown off a single, Retherford stacked and turned the Swiss wrestler with a leg turk and scored the fall.

Quarterfinal – dec. Arman Andreasyan (Armenia), 5-0 — Retherford led 1-0 after one period before recording a single at the 2:32 mark and then a pair of step-out points.

Semifinal – dec. Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia), 7-0 – Retherford scored his only two takedowns in the final 55 seconds of the match as he earned a fourth straight shut-out. His first three points came via a pair of step-outs and a passivity point against the Georgian.

Gold-Medal Match – lost by TF to Taishi Narikuni (Japan), 10-0 (2:30) — Narikuni first countered a deep high crotch by Retherford for a takedown with one minute left in the first period, then hooked a up a tough leg-lace that led to four turns and eight exposure points in a short amount of time for the technical fall.

79k/174 pounds – Jordan Burroughs (Philadelphia, Pa./Pennsylvania RTC/Sunkist Kids) – Gold

Prelim – won by TF over Sahergeldi Saparmyradov (Turkmenistan), 12-1, 2:05 – A pair of stepouts gave Burroughs a 2-1 lead 50 seconds into the match when a single-leg takedown put Saparmyradov on his back. The American then added a pair of leg-laces to end the match.

1st round – won by TF over Dejan Mitrov (North Macedonia), 12-1 – Burroughs scored four takedowns, including a single that led to two exposure points off a leg lace 40 seconds into the bout and another takedown and gut-wrench the ended the bout.

Quarterfinal – won by TF over Arsalan Budazhapov (Kyrgyzstan), 10-0, 2:57 – Burroughs added three more takedowns, including a double the put Budazhapov on his back with 24 seconds left in the first period. A throw-by takedown by Burroughs ended the match with three seconds left in the first.

Semifinal – dec. Ali Umarpashaev (Bulgaria), 9-2 – A go-behind takedown with three seconds left in the first gave Burroughs a 4-1 lead. In the second frame, a low single by Burroughs also led to a pair of exposure points off a leg-lace with 2:35 left.

Gold-Medal Match – dec. Mohammad Nokhodilarimi (Iran), 4-2 — In a rematch of the 2021 World final, which Burroughs also won, the American legend trailed 1-0 at the break before he earned a stepout and scored a takedown on a blast double with 2:37 left. Burroughs also earned a passivity point against the Iranian, who earned a step-out with one second left.

86k/189.5 pounds – David Taylor (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) – Gold

1st round – won by TF over Aron Caneva (Italy), 10-0, 0:46 – A throw-by takedown by Taylor 26 seconds into the match led to four guts by the 2020 Olympic champion to quickly end the match as a technical fall.

Quarterfinal – won by TF over Ethan Ramos (Puerto Rico), 11-0 – Taylor scored a pair of takedowns and six points off three gut-wrenches to give him an easy victory over the former North Carolina wrestler.

Semifinal – won by TF over Azamat Dauletbekov (Kazakhstan), 12-0, 5:12 – Taylor continued to shut out foes and added five more takedowns, the final coming with 48 seconds left in the match.

Gold Medal Match – dec. Hassan Yazdani (Iran), 7-1 – Taylor, who beat the Iranian in last summer’s Olympics but lost to Yazdani in the 2021 Worlds, trailed 1-0 before he scored three takedowns. The first with 20 seconds left in the first period gave Taylor a 2-1 lead before adding two more in the second period; the final coming with 27 seconds left. Taylor also avoided trouble when it appeared that Yazdani, trailing 5-1 with 49 seconds left, had a good crotch lift against the American who held his position through the scramble and didn’t give up any points.

125k/275.5 pounds – Hayden Zillmer (Minneapolis, Minn./Gopher WC RTC) – dnp

Prelim – won by TF over Zyyamuhammet Saparov (Turkmenistan), 15-4 – An arm throw by Saparov 13 seconds into the match gave him a 4-0 lead before Zillmer responded with three takedowns and eight exposure points coming off four gut-wrenches.

1st round – dec. Robert Baran (Poland), 3-2 — Two of Zillmer’s points came when the Pole twice failed to score during an activity clock in each period, while the American added a stepout with 44 seconds left. Baran cut the margin to one point off a duck-under with 40 seconds left.

Quarterfinal – lost to Geno Petriashvili (Georgia), 9-4 — The former World champion, who finished second a year ago in both the Olympics (to Gable Steveson) and Worlds, scored three takedowns. Zillmer scored a pair of takedowns for his points, but was eliminated from medal contention when Petriashvili lost in the semis.