Friday night in Austin, Texas, FloWrestling hosted a second 8-man tournament featuring some of the best wrestlers on the planet at 150 lbs. In the championship match, three-time World Medalist Bajrang Punia of India challenged two-time World Medalist James Green of the United States. With $25,000 on the line, the two returning medalists squared off in a bout with significant Olympic ramifications heading into 2021.
The top-seeded Punia, who has been training in the US this month with Sean Bormet, University of Michigan head coach, and the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club, defeated University of Iowa All-American Pat Lugo (Hawkeye Wrestling Club) 6–1 in the opening round. The second-seeded Green (Southeast RTC), a four-time All-American at the University of Nebraska, scored a technical fall over the New York Athletic Club’s two-time All-American, Bryce Meredith. Two-time Pan-American and NCAA Champion Anthony Ashnault beat Evan Henderson 6–6. Alec Pantaleo (Cliff Keen) scored the upset of the tournament, defeating two-time NCAA Champion Jordan Oliver (Tar Heel RTC) 4–4.
In the semi-finals, Punia handled Ashnault 9–0, while Green edged out Pantaleo 4–2, setting the stage for the much-anticipated finale.
The immensely popular Punia scored two points early, down-blocking Green’s leg attack and scoring off a front head-pinch. Punia’s usually impenetrable defense showed cracks late in the first period, though. and soon Green roared back with a single leg, then scored again with a huge double leg lift to take a 4–2 lead. With just five seconds left in the period, Green took another shot, but this time was met with Punia’s hips, as the Indian took the 4–4 lead heading into the break.
Punia’s decision to train with Bormet and the Cliff Keen Club speaks volumes of the impact the Michigan coaching staff has made in Freestyle.
In the second period, Green stayed on the attack but again gave up points, increasing Punia’s lead to 6–2. While in par terre position, Punia turned Green with a bent-leg gut wrench for two more points. Punia held off a late charge from the American and secured his 6–2 decision and the $25,000 prize.
Punia’s decision to train with Bormet and the Cliff Keen Club speaks volumes of the impact the Michigan coaching staff has made in Freestyle. Two weeks ago, Cliff Keen won the inaugural RTC Dual Team Championship. With young talent like Junior National Champion Dylan Ragusin, U-23 Champions Will Lewan and Youssif Hemida, Senior-level National Champions Mason Parris and Logan Massa, plus Greco-Roman World Silver Medalist Adam Coon, the Michigan RTC has made a remarkable statement on the International scene.