While McGregor vs. Mayweather dominates the sports world, when it comes to combat sports, something under the radar is a dream match this afternoon in Paris, France.
Two wrestlers who could dominate the sport for some time to come are meeting in the finals of the world championships.
Kyle Snyder, who was a world champion at 19 and won the Olympic gold medal last year at 20, reached the finals and will face “The Russian Tank,” Abdulsalim Sadulaev, who won the gold medal at 189 pounds and was only 18 when he captured the world title in 2014 at that weight.
Sadulaev is considered the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the world and hasn’t lost in competition since he was 17 years old, competing against adults. When he was 16, he won a bronze medal, against the powerhouses of a top wrestling country, in the Russian championships.
Because the two have been in different weight divisions, they have never met, but this could be an historical first meeting of two men who could possibly dominate the sport for the net decade.
The U.S. men’s team is currently in first place at the freestyle wrestling world championships in Paris, France, with a slight lead over Russia, and has three wrestlers left for today’s finals.
The team’s two biggest men stars, Snyder and Jordan Burroughs (163 pounds) and James Green (154), are in the championship matches.
Sadulaev moved up one weight class with the idea of challenging Snyder, who won his first world title at 19, and first Olympic gold medal at 20.
Earlier today, Snyder scored a 10-0 tech fall win over Mamad Ibragimov of Kazakhstan, and followed with another 10-0 tech fall over Naoya Akaguma of Japan. Snyder then defeated Astanbek Alborov of Azerbaijan 9-2 to reach the finals.
Burroughs faces 2014 world champion Khetig Tsabalov of Russia in the finals at 163 pounds.
Burroughs opened with a 7-5 win over Ali Shabanau of Belarus, then defeated Sohsuke Takatari of Japan via tech fall by a 12-2 margin, and followed with a 13-2 tech fall win over Zelimkhan Khadjev of France.
He reached the finals with a win over Bekzod Abdurakmanov of Uzbekistan, who defeated him in the 2016 Olympics, winning 6-5.
James Green,at 154 pounds, is the other American in the finals, facing Frank Chamizo of Italy.
The only other U.S. wrestler in action this morning, Zain Retherford, the Penn State star, via knocked out of competition losing in the second round. by Adam Batirov of Bahrain 6-4.
Snyder vs. Sadulaev starts at 1 p.m. Eastern and will air live on The Olympic Channel (624 on DirecTV, on most cable systems). It’s also streaming on iPPV for $9.99.