RIO DE JANEIRO — Defending Olympic and world champion Jordan Burroughs was stunned by Russia’s Aniuar Geduev on Friday in the quarterfinals of men’s freestyle wrestling.
Geduev, a three-time European champion, upended Burroughs 3-2 at 74 kilograms to hand the American just his third international loss and knock him out of gold-medal contention. Burroughs was trying to become the fourth U.S. wrestler with multiple Olympic golds.
Geduev jumped to a 3-0 lead in a match stopped several times so officials could clean a cut on Burroughs’ head. Burroughs scored a late takedown, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit.
Burroughs, a three-time world champion and the winner from the London Games in 2012, can still claim a bronze medal through the repechage after Geduev qualified for the finals.
It was that victory in London — combined with his charismatic, social media-friendly persona — that helped make Burroughs the face of wrestling as the sport fought to return to the Olympic program in 2013.
Burroughs, a New Jersey native who starred for the University of Nebraska, won the world title again in 2013. He was forced to settle for bronze in 2014 after hurting his knee in the opening match.
Burroughs returned to handily win the world championships in Las Vegas in 2015, and his dominant performance at the Olympic trials in April made it seem as though no one could touch him in Rio. He was so confident that he told The Associated Press in July that he planned to bring his gold medal from London to Rio so he could wear two of them to his post-Rio news conference.
But from the moment Burroughs hit the mat Friday, it just didn’t seem like his day.
Burroughs came out attacking in his first match, scoring on an early takedown to seize control of his opening match against Guinea Bissau’s Augusto Midana. Burroughs led 8-2 at the break and won 8-3 — though it was unusual to see Burroughs give up multiple scores to such an unaccomplished opponent.
Geduev and Burroughs nearly came to blows just seconds into their match, as Geduev shoved Burroughs hard in the shoulders after Burroughs objected to a head slap by nearly slapping the Russian.
Geduev scored first and made point-scoring moves difficult for Burroughs. Geduev padded his lead with a pair of second-period pushouts, and Burroughs found himself on the mat trying to come to grips with a loss that dropped his international record to 130-3.
Geduev will face Iran’s Hassan Yazdanicharati for the gold at 74 kilograms. Georgia’s Vladimer Khinchegashvili will take on Japan’s Rei Higuchi for top honors at 57 kilograms.