USA Greco

Hafizov Comes Close to Podium at Military Worlds, Loukides Comments

Ildar Hafizov wins 2017 Thor Masters in Denmark

It was kind of a weird day for Ildar Hafizov (59 kg, Army/WCAP) at the 2017 CISM World Military Wrestling Championships in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

Hafizov, a US Senior World Team member this year, opened up the morning with an emphatic measure of revenge. In the qualification round, his opponent was Vazgen Khatchatryan (ARM) — the same wrestler he faced in the first round at the Paris World Championships a month ago. Hafizov fell to Khatchatryan 8-3 in Paris, but it was a decidedly different result today as he raced out to a 6-0 lead when he zipped in on a high dive and trucked the Armenian to his back for four. He then nabbed another two off of a lift before putting a cap on the proceedings shortly thereafter.

“Ildar’s match with the Armenian, he was on fire,” said Marines head coach Jason Loukides, who is in Lithuania as a coach for the US Military World Team. “He looked great. He tech’ed him. There were no problems, no hiccups — no anything. He just completely dominated, and that was exciting.”

In the next round, Hafizov was matched up with a wrestler he defeated earlier in the year — Poland’s Michal Tracz. The pair met in the finals of the 2017 Thor Masters Invitational in Denmark with Hafizov prevailing via injury default when Tracz’s elbow apparently dislocated. Hafizov was up 5-0 early in the second period when that match was stopped. There wouldn’t be a repeat on Friday, as Tracz managed to advance thanks to a razor-thin 2-1 decision.

“Everytime he (Hafizov) grabbed a two-on-one or tried to whip him down with it, the coaches were yelling,” explained Loukides. “That made the referee act like he was trying to hurt him or something.”

However — Tracz advanced to the finals (where he would eventually finish second) to pull the American back into the repechage. Hafizov next won against Rakhmatsirhudo Khaibarau (BLR) to set himself up with a shot at bronze, but that was it. 2017 U23 European Championships gold medalist and 2016 World Military Championships bronze medalist Murad Mammodov (AZE, world no. 12) dashed Hafizov’s hopes for a medal on the strength of a 9-0 tech.

View the clip below of Hafizov vs. Khatchatryan (video courtesy of USMC coach Jason Loukides)


Like Hafizov, two-time Junior World medalist and 2012 Olympian Ellis Coleman (66 kg, Army/WCAP) was also on the 2017 US World Team, making this his second appearance at a World event inside of a month. His opponent, 2016 World Military Championships silver medalist Dawid Karecinski (POL) represented a stiff test. Karecinski defeated Coleman at last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix via tech. The action was tighter this time around. Coleman was game and in it every step of the way, but an illness cropped up and he was unable to finish what he started.

“Ellis wrestled great in the first period, but he didn’t feel well and they ended up pulling him from the match,” Loukides said. “It was really close and he was wrestling aggressively. Then he came back to the corner and said he didn’t feel right. He went back out there and wrestled like he didn’t feel good, and then they pulled him from the match.”

As of now, there is no further word on Coleman’s condition but we hope to get that to you as soon as we can.


Senior Greco-Roman newcomer Brandon Mueller (71 kg, Air Force) knew going into the 2017 CISM World Military Wrestling Championships that he was going to have his hands full, and he was correct. But you know what? His two high-profile opponents did, as well.

Mueller drew a toughie right off the bat in 2015 World bronze medalist Adam Kurak (RUS). Kurak got the win 7-3 and then advanced to the finals, which meant Mueller would have another shot to make something happen in the repechage. There, he was matched up with another decorated athlete — 2014 World bronze Afshin Byabangard (IRI, world no. 8). Byabangard managed a total of three points to move onto the bronze medal round. Kurak later won the weight class and Byabangard took third.

“Mueller battled both guys and frustrated them,” Loukides said. “Even when he went down in par terre in the last match, he defended, which showed a lot of improvement. He’ll defend on bottom against anybody at that level.”


One of the country’s most underrated and technically-sound Greco-Roman competitors is Dillon Cowan (75 kg, Army/WCAP) and just like his three teammates on Day 1, he was operating in a compressed bracket deep with talent. Cowan had a bye and was to face the winner of Tsimur Berdiev (BLR) and Elmar Nuraliev (UKR). Interestingly enough, he wound up mixing it up with both wrestlers regardless. Nuraliev took out Berdiev 8-1 and though Cowan did display some of his patented offense, Nuraliev emerged in that high-scoring match 13-8. Nuraliev moved to the finals which, once again, provided Cowan with a chance to go for third. Unfortunately, Berdiev snatched control of the bout and eventually picked up an 8-0 tech over the American.

2017 CISM World Military Wrestling Championships


59 kg: Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP) — 5th
WON Vazgen Khatchatryan (ARM) 10-0, TF
LOSS Michal Tracz (POL) 2-1
WON Rakhmatsirhudo Khaibarau (BLR) 6-1
LOSS Murad Mammadov (AZE) 9-0, TF

66 kg: Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP) — 11th
LOSS Dawid Karecinski (POL) via injury default (5-1)

71 kg: Brandon Mueller (Air Force) — 10th
LOSS Adam Kurak (RUS) 7-3
LOSS Afshin Byabangard (IRI) 3-0

75 kg: Dillon Cowan (Army/WCAP) — 9th
LOSS Elmar Nuraliev (UKR) 13-8
LOSS Tsiumur Berdiev (BLR) 8-0, TF


80 kg: Courtney Myers (Army/WCAP)
vs. Nikolaos Varkas (GRE) (2015 Olympia Tournament gold medalist)

85 kg: John Stefanowicz (Marines)
vs. Mahdi Fallah Hamidbadi (IRI)

98 kg: Daniel Miller (Marines)
vs. Spyridon Kountouratzis (GRE)

130 kg: Eric Fader (Marines)
vs. Lenard Istvan Berei (ROU)


59 kg:
Gold: Nkorbaksh Mohamad (IRI) def. Michal Tracz (POL) 5-3
Bronze: Justas Petravicius (LTU) def. Abdenour Laouni (ALG) 10-0, TF
Bronze: Murad Mammadov (AZE) def. Ildar Hafizov (USA) 9-0, TF

66 kg:
Gold: Karen Aslanyan (ARM) def. Aleksey Kiyankin (RUS) 3-1
Bronze: Jeong Che-Ol (KOR) def. Kerim Caferov (AZE) 7-2
Bronze: Matid Khalili (IRI) def. Fevzi Mamutov (UKR) 10-8

71 kg:
Gold: Adam Kurak (RUS) def. Armen Hakobyan (ARM) 3-1
Bronze: Afshin Byabangard (IRI) def. Quing Gele 9-4
Bronze: Maksim Yevtushenko (UKR) def. Senan Almirzeyev (AZE) 5-1

75 kg:
Gold: Georgios Prevolarakis (GRE) def. Elmar Nuraliev (UKR) 6-1
Bronze: Babj Vahid Jafari (IRI) def. Boudjemline Akrem (ALG) 8-4
Bronze: Tsimur Berdiev (BLR) def. George-Vlad Mariea (ROU) 10-1, TF

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