Amir Aliakbari is a darkhorse in the Rizin tournament

Most of the attention paid towards Rizin’s openweight grand prix has been directed toward the return of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and the eventual entry of Wanderlei Silva. However, the tournament also features the big show debut of one of the most intriguing heavyweight prospects in recent memory, Amir Aliakbari.

Aliakbari is a two-time Greco-Roman wrestling world champion. He won the worlds at 96 kg before moving up to heavyweight in 2013 and winning another gold medal. He missed the 2012 Olympics due to a doping violation. After a second doping offense following to 2013 world championships, Aliakbari was stripped of his gold medal and banned from the sport.

In three world championships, he went 14-1 and outscored his opponents 61-11. That is good enough for a 97.88 Wrestler’s Pythagorean Expectation. 

“He won the worlds a few years ago, popped positive though. Beastly talent, unfortunate,” said Tim Hands of Greco-Roman wrestling website “He had a power game. He had a lot of typical Iranian qualities too, quick technical. But again, he’s tainted.”

Aliakbari made his MMA debut last October. He has dispatched both his opponents, Hyung Chul-Lee and Radu Spinghel via first-round knockout, while only spending 1:19 in the cage. His opponent Joao Almeida holds a 4-1 record and is ranked #89 by Fight Matrix.

With the UFC bringing in USADA and coming down harder than ever before on performance enhancing drugs, it will be interesting to see where Aliakbari’s career goes. However, there is no denying his natural talent, and there is a good chance he will make a long run in the Rizin tournament.

Amir Aliakbari Record at World Championships
2013 UWW World Championships at 120kg
Def. Oleksandr Chernetskyi (UKR) 3-1 (Fall)
Def. Johan Euren (SWE) 7-0
Def. Eduard Popp (GER) 7-0
Def. Riza Kayaalp (TUR) 4-1
Def. Heiki Nabi (EST) 4-0

2010 UWW World Championships at 96kg
Def. Davyd Saldadze (UZB) 1-0, 1-0
Def. Mohamed Abdelfatah (EGY) 1-0, 1-0
Def. Kaloyan Dinchev (BUL) 3-0, 1-0
Def. Aslanbek Khushtov (RUS) 1-0, 1-0
Def. Tsimafei Dzeinichenka (BLR) 2-2, 1-0

2009 UWW World Championships at 96kg
Def. Jesper Viholt (DEN 5-0, 4-0
Def. Kaloyan Dinchev (BUL) 3-0, 3-0
Def. Alin Alexuc-Ciurariu (ROU) 2-0, 1-0
Lost to Balasz Kiss (HUN) 1-0, 0-5, 0-1
Def. Davyd Saldadze (UZB) 1-0, 2-2