After blowing his shot at a world title in 2014, American Jordan Burroughs wondered if he was over the hill.
Burroughs won his third world crown Saturday to close the wrestling championships.
The 27-year-old Burroughs beat Mongolia\’s Unurbat Purevjav 10-0 at 74 kilograms (163 pounds) for his fourth major title — including gold at the London Games — since 2011.
Burroughs joined John Smith and Bruce Baumgartner on the short list of Americans with at least four combined Olympic and world titles.
"I\’m back, dude," Burroughs said.
Georgia\’s Vladimir Khinchegashvili won at 57 kilograms (125.5 pounds). Top-ranked Magdomedrasul Gazimagomedov was the champion at 70 kilograms (154 pounds) for Russia, and Turkey\’s Taha Akgul took the heavyweight title (125 kilograms; 275 pounds) for the second year in a row.
American James Green pinned Bulgarian Miroslav Kirov to take the bronze at 70 kilos.
Russia won the men\’s freestyle team title, followed by Iran.
Burroughs lost for the first time at a world championship in 2014, when a sprained left knee contributed to a loss in the semifinals.
Burroughs wasn\’t about to let that happen again.
Burroughs was a bit tentative and sluggish in his opening match before rallying with a double leg — the wrestling equivalent of a football tackle — and a 5-2 win.
Burroughs\’ opponent in the second round was penalized for excessive head slaps, which seemed to rile Burroughs up. He responded with a flurry of two-pointers for a 10-0 win. Burroughs then dispatched Hungarian Mihaly Nagy in just 2:04 on technical superiority and Iran\’s Alireza Ghasemi 5-0.
Burroughs\’ semifinal match turned out to be among the most entertaining of the tournament.
Russian Aniuar Geduev, ranked second to Burroughs at 74 kilos, took Burroughs down to tie it at 2 with 90 seconds left. Burroughs answered with a takedown and held off a furious challenge for a 4-3 win.
Burroughs opened the finals with an early takedown, and a successful challenge put him up 6-0 over Purevjav in the second period.
"He doesn\’t want to just keep winning. He wants to win and keep getting better. That\’s what sets him apart," said Nebraska coach Mark Manning, who works with Burroughs.
Burroughs, 114-2 on the world stage, became the fourth world champion for the U.S. this year, joining Adeline Gray, Helen Maroulis and 19-year-old Kyle Snyder.
"It was extremely tough for me this year. Very pressed for time," said Burroughs, who got married, had a son and took an assistant coaching job at Nebraska in the past two years. "For a long time I was trying to be the best wrestler in the world in my spare time."
Khinchegashvili rallied from a three-point deficit in the final minute and scored on a takedown with 10 seconds left to beat Iran\’s Hassan Rahimi, the world champion in 2013.
Gazimagomedov beat Iran\’s Hassan Yazdanicharati 10-3, while Akgul won 10-0 in just 1:02.
Bilyal Mahkov became the first wrestler in 42 years to win medals in both men\’s disciplines at a single world meet. Mahkov won bronze in Greco-Roman earlier this week and bronze on Saturday.
Despite losing in the semifinals, Green, a fellow Nebraska Cornhusker and training partner of Burroughs, did well for himself in his international debut.
Green, 22, won three matches before running into the more experienced Yazdanicharati, who proved to be on a different level in winning 9-4.
Green then drilled Kirov for his first international medal.
"He\’s got an ability that\’s very similar to mine," Burroughs said. "He kind of replicates many of the things that I do."
That\’s a good sign for the U.S. ahead of next summer\’s Rio Olympics.