Abdulrashid Sadulaev, the No. 1 pound-for-pound wrestler in the world and arguably one of the best wrestlers in history, suffered a shocking loss in the semifinal round at the Wrestling World Championships on Monday.
Sadulaev, who competed as a neutral athlete because his native Russia is not allowed at the tournament, appeared destined for a gold-medal match against rival Kyle Snyder at 97kg.
Synder, an Olympic gold medalist wrestler in 2016, was the last person to defeat Sadulaev in 2017, however the American came up short in his bid for another gold when he was defeated in shocking fashion by 20-year-old prodigy Akhmed Tazhudinov via 11-0 technical fall. Tazhudinov, a Russia native who now represents Bahrain, then stunned the wrestling world with a similar performance against Sadulaev.
With Tazhudinov up 9-2 on the scoring, Sadulaev rolled over and waved off the match citing an injury. But that’s not what one-time Olympian Ben Askren witnessed.
“Wrestling just had its Roberto Duran ‘no mas’ moment,” Askren wrote on Twitter. “Possibly the greatest wrestler of all-time Abdulrashid Sadulaev just quits in the middle of the match while losing. So insane, still trying to process it.”
Wrestling just had its Roberto Duran "No Mas" moment. Possibly the greatest wrestler of all time Abdulrashid Sadulaev just quits in the middle of the match while losing. So insane, still trying to process it— Funky (@Benaskren) September 18, 2023
A separate report from FloWrestling noted that Sadulaev said his head was injured when he called a stop to the match with Tazhudinov..
While Tazhudinov is an accomplished wrestler in his own right, nobody could have predicted the 20-year-old would pull off back-to-back wins over a pair of Olympic gold medalists in Sadulaev and Snyder.
During his career, Sadulaev has been a force of nature, rolling through competition in multiple weight classes, claiming two Olympic gold medals and four wrestling World Championship gold medals as well.
Ironically, Sadulaev’s loss allowed Snyder to re-enter the tournament to attempt to win a bronze medal once Tazhudinov punched his ticket to the finals in the gold-medal match.