A top-spot finish at the freestyle contests will be all Iran and USA will be chasing when the Wrestling World Championships get underway in Belgrade in less than a fortnight.
The Americans settled for a runner-up spot in Oslo last year – finishing six points clear of third-placed Iran – and with the reigning champion, the Russian Wrestling Federation, omitted from this year’s event, the team title race can end up being a thriller between the two wrestling giants.
The two countries shared six golds and silvers apiece between them in the Norwegian capital, with three finals being decided by an Iran-USA contest.
Iranian sensation Hassan Yazdani outmuscled David Taylor in a highly-anticipated 86kg final to ease the pain of the setback against the American at the Tokyo Olympics three months earlier, while American great Jordan Burroughs beat Mohammad Nokhodi for his fifth world gold.
Thomas Gilman, meanwhile, came on top against Iranian Milad Sarlak in the 57kg final showdown.
The United World Wrestling, the international governing body of the sport, last week announced the top seeds for the competition in the Serbian capital, where Gilman and Burroughs were joined by compatriots Kyle Dake and Kyle Snyder in sitting atop their respective weight classes.
Yazdani and teammate Kamram Qassempour, who beat American J’den Cox in the semifinals before winning the gold in Oslo, top the 86kg and 92kg seeds respectively.
Other than Yazdani and Qassempour, Sarlak and Nokhodi will also be present in Belgrade, hoping the better their last year’s achievements.
Reza Atri (61kg) will be seeking a first world medal at the fourth time of asking, while Rahman Amouzad (65kg) will be looking to build on his three world cadet and junior golds when participating at the seniors’ event for a second year in a row.
Amir-Mohammad Yazdani will be in hunt for a second successive world medal after a 65kg silver-winning campaign in Oslo.
Mohammad-Hossein Mohammadian had a disappointing run at the Tokyo Olympics and was replaced by Mojtaba Goleij in the World Championships, but will be back in contention in Belgrade, having won an Asian gold in April.
Younes Emami, a bronze winner in 2019, will be after a second world medal at the 74kg contests.
Amirhossein Zare’ will be another Iranian to watch in Belgrade, after a memorable three months saw the 21-year-old take the 125kg bronze in Tokyo on his seniors debut before outpowering top-seed Georgian Geno Petriashvili to the world gold.