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Khalmurzaev, Nagase or a surprise World Champion U81kg?

31 Aug 2017 00:10

 JudoInside & JudoCrazy    IJF Media Team / International Judo Federation

In the category U81kg there remains two big prospects for the World title in Budapest: Olympic Champion Khasan Khalmurzaev of Russia and World Champion Takanori Nagase of Japan. Both have fought very little since the 2016 Rio Olympics, but when they did, they shone brightly. Here in Budapest they are in the same pool and may meet in the quarter final.

Khalmurzaev won the 2017 Ekaterinburg Grand Slam while Nagase won the 2016 Tokyo Grand Slam. These men have fought only once, in 2015 at the Rabat World Masters where Nagase was triumphant. The interesting thing is that while Khalmurzaev is ranked No. 5th, Nagase is currently outside the Top 10. Depending on the draw, they might end up on the same side of the pool, which means they could meet earlier in the day rather than in the final.

Alan Khubetsov of Russia is the current World No. 1 and has a great sode-tsurikomi-goshi. He is also the European Champion but he doesn't have the track record of Khalmurzaev. He may face Valois Fortier of Canada who's ready to fire here but so is his opponent Alexander Wieczerzak of Germany.

Attila Ungvari (WRL-3) is the home favorite. He did well in the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam where he made it to the final (he lost to Khalmurzaev there). With home ground advantage, he might just pull off an upset. He had a good draw and may meet with another exciting player to watch Ivaylo Ivanov (WRL-6) of Bulgaria. Frank De Wit (WRL-2) of the Netherlands, both of whom use a modified version of the Khabarelli technique with great effect. De Wit is linked to Zebeda Rekhviashvili, one of them will survive and reach the quarter finals.

For more traditional or classical judo you have to look at Victor Penalber of Brazil, who has massive throwing skills. Lastly, it's worth looking out for Antoine Valois-Fortier who recently won the Hohhot Grand Prix, defeating Russia's Khubetsov. Penalber is in the pool of death of Khalmuzraev and Nagase.

The U81kg category used to be loaded with lots of really top and exciting players like South Korea's World & Olympic Champion Kim Jae-Bum (now retired), Georgia's World Champion Avtandili Tchrikishvili (not selected U90kg), France's World Champion Loic Pietri (not selected U90kg) and USA's Olympic Silver Medalist Travis Stevens (his his first BJJ fight last week).

Now there is a new order, led by the Russians, but there are also possible surprises, such as Saeid Mollaei (IRI) or perhaps good old Laszlo Csoknyai. However, below are some real game-changers not yet mentioned.

Possible quarter finallists

Alan Khubetsov vs Emmanuel Lucenti

Frank de Wit vs Saeid Mollaei

Attila Ungvari vs Ivaylo Ivanov

Victor Penalber vs Khasan Khalmurzaev

Previous World Champions

1999      Graeme Randall (GBR)

2001      In-Chul Cho (KOR)

2003      Florian Wanner (GER)

2005      Guillaume Elmont (NED)

2007      Tiago Camilo (BRA)

2009      Ivan Nifontov (RUS)

2010      Jae-Bum Kim (KOR)

2011      Jae-Bum Kim (KOR)

2013      Loïc Pietri (FRA)

2014      Avtandili Tchrikishvili (GEO)

2015      Takanori Nagase (JPN)

The game changers

Antoine Valois-Fortier of Canada won the Olympic Games bronze in London 2012, in Rio he finished seventh. Valois-Fortier fought in the 2014 World Championships final against Tchrikishvili and took bronze in 2015. In July 2017 he won gold at the Grand Prix in Hohhot, Khubetsov will be his major test after Wieczerzak.

Georgian Zebeda Rekhviashvili came back strong in 2017 and won silver at the Grand Slam in Paris. He took bronze at the Grand Slam in Ekaterinburg in 2017 and with his unorthodox moves he can surprise anyone and entertain the crowd, for sure. De Wit will be his first major target.

Sergiu Toma (UAE) won Olympic bronze in Rio 2016. He won the Grand Slam of Abu Dhabi in 2016 but since then he hasn't been successful. Still he is able to make a difference.

Uuganbaatar Otgonbaatar (MGL) won a bronze medal at the Grand Slam in Baku in 2017. He took more than 10 IJF World Tour medals, but no gold yet.  He beat Ivanov, Ungvari, Toma and Penalber previously.

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  • Takanori Nagase (JPN) - World Championships Budapest (2017, HUN) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Alan Khubetsov (RUS) - World Championships Budapest (2017, HUN) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Frank De Wit (NED) - World Championships Budapest (2017, HUN) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation

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