G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist, world no. 3) is guaranteed a third straight “Ranking Series” medal, and it could wind up being gold.
At the 2019 Matteo Pellicone Memorial in Sassari City, Italy, Hancock advanced to the finals after defeating a quality opponent in Armen Griogoryan (RUS) before shutting out 2009 World Champion Balazs Kiss (HUN, world no. 9). Action began at 10:00am local time (4:00am ET) and was broadcast live in the US on FLOWrestling.
Against Grigoryan, Hancock was awarded the first passivity point of the contest, though a subsequent turn attempt came up short. Back on the feet in the first period, and Hancock upped the activity just a touch as he used his feet to move Griogoryan around in the hand-fight. Less than a minute into the second period, the Russian was dinged for passivity yet again. Instead of locking for a gut, Hancock circled towards Grigoryan’s head for a reverse lift. Nothing was doing. It was tight in there. But more importantly, Hancock remained in complete control of the tie-ups and constantly worked to put Grigoryan on his heels. There was no further scoring and the American moved on to the semifinals where a more difficult test was thought to be lurking.
Despite having trained together occasionally, Hancock and Kiss had never locked horns in an actual sanctioned match, but it was bound to happen sooner or later. And perhaps as recently as a year ago, the Hungarian would have been the favorite. Not anymore.
At the whistle, Hancock urged forward and what proceeded was an odd exchange. Kiss either lost his balance or there was a glitch on an arm spin attempt, or both. Hancock easily covered for takedown points and went to work on a reverse lock near the edge. Hungary challenged the sequence, they wanted a slip. Following a short review, the points were wiped off the board and wrestling resumed.
Kiss’ intensity ramped up as they clashed. Hancock met the charge and didn’t even bother attempting to slow things down in the pummel. He had a better idea — why not just go for four? Hancock weaved his arms inside to achieve underhooks and simply dumped Kiss to his back. There weren’t any follow-up points from the tarp. Hancock had a lock and seemed to look for a lift but was unable to clear Kiss’ legs.
Leading 4-0 in the second, Hancock’s workrate didn’t slow down. It was he who still directed the tempo, and Kiss was consistently forced to react and re-react whenever Hancock busied himself in the ties. There was one last gasp from the multi-time World medalist; with under :30 to go, Kiss turned and pivoted for a throw only to have Hancock pounce for two more points. And that was that. Hancock, the 6-0 winner, had cemented his spot in another “Ranking Series” tournament final.
Next up for the American is 2015 Junior World Champion Nikoloz Kakhelashvili (ITA). There is just a little history of which to take note: last year at the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup, Hancock defeated the Georgian-born grappler 3-2 in the qualification round. Later in the day, Hancock wound up tech’ing Maksim Safaryan (RUS) and throwing-and-pinning multi-time World/2016 Olympic champ Artur Aleksanyan (ARM, world no. 10) en-route to gold.
The finals of the 2019 Matteo Pellicone Memorial begin at 3:45pm local time (9:45am ET) and can be viewed live on FLOWrestling.
2019 Matteo Pellicone Memorial/Sassari City Int’l
May 23rd — Sassari City, Italy
TEAM USA RESULTS
G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist)
WON Armen Grigoryan (RUS) 3-0
WON Balazs Kiss (HUN) 6-0
vs. Nikoloz Kakhelashvili (ITA)