Sending 4 wrestlers to UWW ranking series tournament, Iranian wrestlers captured 3 gold medals and 1 silver.
When Yazdani's name was called for the 86kg final, you knew who is the biggest star of the sport. By the time he scored his first takedown against Boris MAKOEV (SVK) in the final, fans had queued up to take a picture with him. The audience had moved towards the athlete's exit to shake his hand. Nothing mattered more than catching a glimpse of Yazdani. A few managed to do it, and some left disappointed.
The world champion was returning to the mat since winning the gold in Oslo seven months back. He had captivated the world by beating David TAYLOR (USA) for the first time in four attempts, a win that relieved some of Yazdani's pain of losing the Tokyo Olympics final to Taylor in the dying moments.
Sunday's final did not have the same stakes on the line. Yazdani was wrestling for a Ranking Series gold against the opponent from the '17 World final which he won. He did not have millions of eyes on him watching and hoping to win against an opponent he has never.
The 27-year-old still put on a show. Like when Makoev got a full shot on a single leg and Yazdani defended it with a stepback and lifted Makoev for exposure for two points. Or when he used his strength to score a double-leg takedown.
"It's been about eight months since I had not taken part in competitions," Yazdani said. "I decided to wrestle at this competition to re-evaluate my weaknesses and keep my body and mind on edge so that I can be fully prepared for the international competitions ahead."
Winning the final 11-0 was just a testimony of how is still in top form and nothing mattered more to any. The fans will forget the comeback from Amir ZARE (IRI) to win the 125kg or how dominant Kamran GHASEMPOUR (IRI) was to win the 92kg. All that matters is a Yazdani win.
He first made it past Fatih ERDIN (TUR) 11-0 in the quarterfinals and was then tested by Asian champion Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) in the semifinals. The Kazakhstan wrestler was the only one who could wrestle Yazdani for more than four minutes but he ultimately lost 12-1.
The final against Makoev only lasted 4:33 but Yazdani put it on record that he is ready for another season and defend his world title in Belgrade, Serbia.
"The level of this competition was good," he said. "There some major Asian and a European wrestlers present who were quite good. My main purpose here was to be on the mat and be able to keep my body prepared and these matches helped me with that purpose quite well."
In little more than three months' time, Yazdani will be in Belgrade, Serbia defending his world title at 86kg. While he did not reveal his future competitions, Yazdani did not rule out being part of a couple before Belgrade.
"If my coach sees fit yes, I would like to compete," he said. "However, after so many months of being away from the mat officially, I got the results I was hoping for and now at this point, I will be willing to do so as long as the coach sees competing in a match fitting."
In a similarly dominant fashion, Ghasempour claimed the 92kg gold beating three Kazakhstan wrestlers en route. In his four bouts, the Iran wrestler scored 38 points while not giving up a single one.
Ghasempour had scored a career-defining world title win in Oslo and since then his following has sky-rocketed. In a short time, he has established himself as the top wrestler at 92kg with wins over J'den COX (USA) and Magomedov KURBANOV (RWF).
In Almaty, he started strong with a 10-0 win over Viky CHAHAR (IND) followed by Islyambek ILYASSOV (KAZ) in Round 2 with a fall after scoring 10-0. In the semifinal, he wrestled Abdimanap BAIGENZHEYEV (KAZ) and moved into the finals with an 11-0.
Adilet DAVLUMBAYEV (KAZ) had entered the final from the other side and he tried stopping Ghasempour from winning the gold but the Iranian wrestler was on a different level.
He quickly led 4-0 with two takedowns and Davlumbayev was already struggling to keep up. It quickly became 9-0 when Ghasempour scored another takedown and rolled the Kazakhstan wrestler for exposure. The corner challenged the two-point call but lost it.
Davlumbayev managed to delay the loss to the second period but Ghasempour was happy to play it easy and finally won the gold with 2:07 remaining.
Zare recovers from 8-0
A stunned Amir ZARE (IRI) stood looking at the big screen at the Baluan Sholak Sports Palace. He, like the Iran fans, was hoping that the challenge from Yusup BATIRMURZAEV (KAZ) turns out to be unsuccessful.
The Kazakhstan wrestler, cheered by almost everyone at the venue, led 8-0 and challenged, asking for four points instead of the two awarded by the referee on his first throw. A successful challenge would mean a 10-0 win for him.
But as luck would have it, Zare had not landed in danger and the move was only worth two points. He got a point for the lost challenge.
With a fresh lease of life and a struggling Batirmurzaev, Zare recovered from 8-0 and then 10-7 to score 14 answered points to win the 125kg gold medal in Almaty 21-10 and silence a hostile crowd.
"Yes [I am still shocked], from the final," Zare said with a smile. "I lost points in the final and earlier as well but I hope to compensate for it in the future and not repeat these mistakes."
It was a far from perfect tournament for the 21-year-old world champion as he struggled to find his rhythm from the start.
Another Kazakhstan wrestler Oleg BOLTIN (KAZ) had him in trouble in the first bout. Boltin used a four-point throw to lead 6-6 on criteria with only 23 seconds remaining but Zare scored three points from there to win 9-7. In the semifinal, world bronze medalist Lkhagvagerel MUNKHTUR (MGL) tested his cardio as Zare barely scraped through for a 3-0 win.
"It was my first time wrestling after a long break, after Norway exactly," Zare said. "I also had a minor foot injury that prevented me from training for a long time. But my coaches helped me be ready for wrestling here. I didn't show a good quality of wrestling here but I hope to do my best in the future, especially in Belgrade."
While Zare could recover from a bad start, U20 world champion Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI) suffered a 10-0 loss against Batyrbek TCAKULOV (SVK) after being caught in a leg-lace as the Slovakia wrestler finished the bout in 1:06.
Round 5: Aman SEHRAWAT (IND) df. Merey BAZARBAYEV (KAZ), 10-9
Round 5: Meirambek KARTBAY (KAZ) df. Abdymalik KARACHOV (KGZ), via inj. def.
GOLD: Aman SEHRAWAT (IND)
SILVER: Meirambek KARTBAY (KAZ)
BRONZE: Merey BAZARBAYEV (KAZ)
GOLD: Bekbolot MYRZANAZAR UULU (KGZ) df. Zhassulan TASKUL (KAZ), 11-0
BRONZE: Yeldos MOMBEKOV (KAZ) df. Ali ABURUMAILA (PLE), 3-0
GOLD: Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) df. Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB), 6-1
BRONZE: Umidjon JALOLOV (UZB) df. Komron KHOLOV (TJK), 10-0
BRONZE: Bajrang PUNIA (IND) df. Rifat SAIBOTALOV (KAZ), 7-0
GOLD: Ernazar AKMATALIEV (KGZ) df. Rodion ANCHUGIN (KAZ), via fall (10-7)
BRONZE: Zafarbek OTAKHONOV (UZB) df. Vishal KALIRAMANA (IND), 8-6
BRONZE: Meirzhan ASHIROV (KAZ) df. Alibek OSMONOV (KGZ), 11-9
GOLD: Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) df. Byambadorj BAT-ERDENE (MGL), 8-0
BRONZE: Amr Reda HUSSEN (EGY) df. NAVEEN (IND), 5-1
BRONZE: Nurkozha KAIPANOV (KAZ) df. Ikhtiyor NAVRUZOV (UZB), 17-9
GOLD: Bolat SAKAYEV (KAZ) df. Saiakbai USUPOV (KGZ), 2-1
BRONZE: Daulet YERGESH (KAZ) df. Arsalan BUDAZHAPOV (KGZ), 4-4
BRONZE: Akhsarbek GULAEV (SVK) df. Zhiger ZAKIROV (KAZ), 6-6
GOLD: Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) df. Boris MAKOEV (SVK), 11-0
BRONZE: Bobur ISLOMOV (UZB) df. Nurzhan ISSAGALIYEV (KAZ), 13-2
BRONZE: Fatih ERDIN (TUR) df. Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ), 4-2
GOLD: Kamran GHASEMPOUR (IRI) df. Adilet DAVLUMBAYEV (KAZ), 11-0
BRONZE: Abdimanap BAIGENZHEYEV (KAZ) df. Islyambek ILYASSOV (KAZ), 4-2
GOLD: Batyrbek TCAKULOV (SVK) df. Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI), 10-0
BRONZE: Akezhan AITBEKOV (KAZ) df. Mukhammadrasul RAKHIMOV (UZB), 4-3
BRONZE: Magomed IBRAGIMOV (UZB) df. Faizi FAIZZODA (TJK), 10-0
GOLD: Amir ZARE (IRI) df. Yusup BATIRMURZAEV (KAZ), 21-10
BRONZE: Lkhagvagerel MUNKHTUR (MGL) df Oleg BOLTIN (KAZ), 2-2
BRONZE: Mohit GREWAL (IND) df Sardorbek KHOLMATOV (UZB), 8-2