The 2018 UWW Freestyle Wrestling World Championships are happening right now in Budapest, Hungary, and with just a few matches left, we can start to look back and reflect at what we have seen. At 74 kilograms (about 165 pounds), defending world champion Jordan Burroughs lost a close quarterfinal match and had to settle for bronze, which was a big disappointment for the American fans. Jordan is a four-time world champion, an Olympic champion, and now a two-time world bronze medalist. This puts him into rare class among American wrestlers, second-only to Bruce Baumgartner in all-time world medals.
Still, even in a loss, the legend of Jordan Burroughs has only grown over the course of the tournament, not just because of his performance, but the performance of those around him, particularly two young men named Kyle Dake and David Taylor.
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For years, Burroughs has been the American standard, leading the team to stronger and stronger performances, with a fan-friendly open style of takedowns that have left him in tons of close matches, always able to grab victory in thrilling fashion. His come-from-behind win in the finals led America to their first team championship in decades in 2017.
For the last 6 years, Jordan Burroughs has been probably the best single wrestler in the world, and anyone looking to improve their takedowns should watch and learn. Sometimes, though, when a fighter is that dominant, it can be hard to really appreciate just how good he is, you can’t really get the right context about who is beating and what their skills are. To make the team, Jordan has had to beat tough Americans, particularly the young lions of David Taylor and Kyle Dake. While they weren’t really proven internationally, American fans loved them and wanted to see those two world class athletes get their shot at world glory as well. Finally, this year, after an expansion to the weight classes, Kyle and David were able to find their spots on the team by moving up from 74 kilograms to 79 and 86 kilograms respectively.
How did they do? Well, both won world championships in dominant fashion. Kyle Dake outscored his opponents 37-0, including a 13-0 technical fall over his Russian rival in the semifinals, and David Taylor started his day beating world and Olympic champion Hassan Yazdanicharati in the very first round before marching through the bracket and winning it all. Now, take these two dominant world champions, and remember that they are only in their first world championship because Jordan Burroughs was there to defend his spot, and that they are so well-prepared for their moment because of their rivalries against JB (among many other contributing factors).
Congratulations to everyone that competed at the event, especially the medalists, but when you see the final results list Jordan as a bronze medalist, don’t get confused. When we consider him against the all-time greats, his stock soared and it’s because of the championship effect he has had on those around him.
Looking to improve your takedowns and takedown defense? Check out Wrestling For BJJ by Hudson Taylor, an NCAA All-American wrestler and BJJ wrestling coach in New York City.