61 kg is one of the most interesting and open weights in the whole world. How will Seth Gross perform in his first Senior World Championships? See below to see the gross stack in this weight category with a full breakdown of favourites, contenders and landmines.
2022 Senior World Championship
This is the first year UWW is moving to 8 seeds (the first 4) and will give us a better picture of the potential bracket in Serbia at 61kg. The bottom seed leaves many top wrestlers in this weight, making the random draw very important. We’ll go into some of the best-persistent wrestlers in this bracket, but for now, it’s worth noting that many of the best wrestlers in the world will enter 61kg without a seed.
- Arsen Harutyunyan, ARM
- Georgi Vangelov, Bull
- Ulukbek Zoldoshbekov, KGZ
- Ravinder Dahiya, India
- Ali Alibeg, BRN
- Suleiman Atli, Turi
- Eduard Grigorov, Polo
- Akbar Kurbanov, Kazi
Best wrestler in the region:
With Russia being banned from the World Championships, defending world champion Abasgazi Magomedov clearly would not compete in Serbia. Also, returning silver medalist Daton FIX lost to Seth Gross in Final X and will not be in Serbia. On top of that, 2021 bronze medalist Toshihiro Hasegawa has dropped to 57kg and will represent Japan in the world there. This leaves 2021 world bronze medalist Arsen Harutyunyan (ARM) as the only returning medalist from last year’s world championships. Harutyunyan would be a big contender to win the worlds and proved that a world medal was no fluke when he won the 2022 European Championships in March. On his way to gold, Harutyunyan had notable victories over Eduard Grigorov and two-time world medalist Suleiman Attlee.
Harutyunyan’s win over Ravinder in the bronze medal match at the 2021 Worlds:
Along with Harutunian, Rei Higuchi should be considered the favorite to win the world in 61kg. Higuchi won an Olympic silver medal in 2016 but will represent Japan at the World Championships for the first time. Despite not making a team until 2017–2021, Higuchi had impressive victories during that time period, including over world champion Yolis Bonne Rodriguez, world medalist Tulga Tumur-Ochir, world champion Yuki Takahashi and world/Olympic champion Takuto Otoguro. victory is included. Of anyone in the 61kg zone, Higuchi has the best win and no one wants a draw for his side of the bracket.
Higuchi’s victory in the Asian Championship final:
The group most likely to win a medal or challenge the favourite:
Eduard Grigorev won the bronze medal at the 2022 European Championships, where he lost only to the aforementioned Harutyunyan in a thrilling 13–8 semi-final bout. Despite that defeat, Grigorov impressed in the Euros with victories over Italy’s Shamil Omarov and Albania’s Zelimkhan Abkarov (two Russian transfers). Grigorov, a Russian transfer, will be the #7 seed at the World Championships and is able to make the final. It is noteworthy that Grigorov wrestled 65kg at the Ziolkovsky tournament as recently as July, but is expected to return to 61kg for the world.
Grigorov’s victory over Zelimkhan Abkarov at the 2022 European Championships:
After Grigorev, Ravinder Dahiya (IND) is one such contender, who finished 5th in the World Championships with wins over Georgi Vangelov, Sungwon Kim and former world champion Beka Lomtadze. Ravinder hasn’t wrestled since those world championships, but proved in Oslo last year that he was ready to compete with the best in the world in 61kg.
The group that is not yet anticipated for a medal, but has great potential to “blow up” the bracket:
Yes, the above list is huge. However, the length of this list speaks volumes about how wide 61kg is and how many wrestlers can win medals in Serbia. It’s also worth noting that everyone except Atlee will be bracketed and drawn randomly. This means that any of these wrestlers can attract a favorite or contender in the first round.
Because this list is so large, it is worth quickly highlighting why each of the above wrestlers is dangerous. First, there is Suleiman Atli, a two-time world medalist. She won world bronze in 2018 and silver in 57kg in 2019 but has struggled in 61kg recently. Attlee was given the technique by both Seth Gross and India’s Aman at the Ranking Series tournament in Tunisia. Despite that performance, Atli is the most experienced competitor in this field and September’s this should not be underestimated.
As mentioned, Seth Gross gave the technique to Suleiman Attlee and the past few months have looked unbelievable. Furthermore, Gross’ victory over Daton Fix proves that he is a force to be reckoned with and that he can beat anyone in the world in 61kg. Still, Gross has limited international experience, making him a huge unknown in this bracket.
Seth Gross win over Suleiman Atli in Tunisia tournament in July:
Reza Attri will be Iran’s representative in 61kg and coming 5th at the Olympics from 57kg. Atri recently won the Takhti Cup where he knocked out Arsen Harutyunyan of Armenia in the final. So why isn’t Atri more contender? He will be unseeded and has limited experience in weighing. While he could have scored a deep run, he could also face a tough draw in the first round and go 0-1.
In 2021 Andrey Dzellep exploded onto the 61kg scene by finishing second at the European Championships, where he notably defeated former world champion Beka Lomtadze. However, due to an injury, Dzhelep did not wrestle at the 2021 World Championships. Dzhelep is back, but didn’t look adapted when Matteo won silver at Pelicone in June. If Dzhelep is 100%, he will be a big threat in this bracket.
Dzlep’s victory over world champion Beka Lomtadze:
Zelimkhan Abkarov and Shamil Omarov are the two Russian transfers and potential landmines in this bracket. Omarov has recently wrestled in 65kg, but competed in 61kg at the European Championships, where he lost a close 2–1 match to Eduard Grigorov. Abkarov has had better results over the past few months and I wouldn’t be surprised if he won the world title. This year, Abkarov has won over Steven Mikic and Olympic silver medalist Ravi Kumar and notably won the bronze medal in Yarygin – only to lose 6-3 to defending world champion Abbasgadzhi Magomedov.
Abkarov’s victory over Olympic silver medalist Ravi Kumar at 2022 Kolov in February:
The Last Landmine – Steven Michick. The 3-time All-American Michigan alum will wrestle in her home country of Serbia and will gain weight after qualifying for the Olympics in 57kg. At the start of the year, Michi tested the waters up to 65kg, where he wrestled at both the European Championships and the Mediterranean Games. He failed to make it to Euro 0–1, but had a better run at the Mediterranean Games. There he won the bronze medal by a victory over Turkey’s Recep Aktas (bronze medalist of the 2022 Euro). 61kg is the perfect weight for Mike and he could run deep in the world if wrestling does his best.
Mike’s victory over world medalist Andrey Yatsenko:
As mentioned, Seth Gross has the tools to outsmart anyone in the world at 61kg. He has improved a lot in his neutral offense and he has the ability to finish any match with his parter game at the top. Despite this, I’m not ready to predict a medal for Gross for a few reasons. First, he will be included in the bracket and he can have any of the top contenders in the first round itself. Furthermore, Gross still shows holes in his defense and has a bad habit of going back a few points before making a comeback. That match strategy won’t work against many in this bracket and gives me pause in predicting his medals.
I don’t mind Rei Higuchi. He looked phenomenal at the Asian Championships, where he dominated the competition, leading 4–0 with 4 take falls. Higuchi looks at the odds on the best wrestler in the region and the favorite to win the world title.
61kg 2022 World Championship Predictions:
Gold: Rei Higuchi
Silver: Zelimkhan Abkarov
Bronze: Reza Etrique
Bronze: Arsene Harutyunyan
Get to know the 61kg field even better by looking at our World Championship Rankings – ranking the top 10 people in each weight category based on head-to-head wins.