Iran were crowned UWW Freestyle World Cup champions for the fourth successive year ©UWW

Iran secured their fourth consecutive United World Wrestling (UWW) Freestyle World Cup title after winning the gold medal match 5-3 at the expense of hosts United States at The Forum in Los Angeles.

London 2012 bronze medal-winning heavyweight Komeil Ghasemi shot at the legs of US back-up Zach Rey with 21 seconds left in the match, before turning him to the floor for a takedown to establish a 3-1 lead and clinch the title for Iran.

The nation’s World Cup winning streak is the second-longest in the 43-year history of the event, bettered only by the five straight titles for the US from 1999 to 2003, when they last triumphed.

Having thrashed Azerbaijan 7-1 earlier in the day to top Pool B, Iran arrived in the final full of confidence against the Pool A winners.

The US’s top heavyweight Tervel Dlagnev, the 2014 World Championships bronze medallist was unable to wrestle due to a tight back, further boosting Iran’s hopes.

After Coleman Scott let a 7-2 first-period lead slip against 2012 world junior champion Behnam Ehsanpoor to lose 9-7 at 61 kilogram, the US were down 2-0 and in deep trouble.

Brent Metcalf stopped Masoud Esmailpour’s 10-match World Cup winning streak, prevailing 3-1 at 65 kg, to cut the deficit to 2-1, before Hassan Razdani Charati defeated Nick Marable 3-1 to restore Iran’s two point advantage with four weight classes remaining.

Jordan Burroughs dominated Morteza Rezaei Ghaleh at 74 kg, winning 10-0 to take his World Cup winning streak to 18 and his overall record to 102-2, but Iran’s Meisam Mostafa Joukar soon returned the favour, beating Clayton Foster 12-2 at 86 kg, to put his country within one win of another title.

Jake Varner, the London 2012 champion at 97 kg, managed a last-second takedown of 2014 World Championship medallist Mohammad Hossei Askari Mohammadian to win 3-1 and set up the decisive  heavyweight class showdown, where Ghasemi was the hero. 

The United States fought hard but narrowly missed out on a first title since 2003
The United States fought hard but narrowly missed out on a first title since 2003 ©UWW

“We had our chances,” said US coach Bruce Burnett.

“We got beaten in the basic positions.

“We did a great effort but basic mistakes were made.”

The third-place play-off match between Azerbaijan and a young Russian team surged back and forth until Azerbaijani heavyweight Jamaladdin Magomedov claimed a 12-1 win over Tiumur Kotsoev to tie the match at four wins each.

By virtue of his 10-plus point win, Azerbaijan claimed the bronze medal on technical merit, 16-15, marking their best finish since winning the World Cup in 2012.

In the classification matches, Belarus edged Mongolia 5-3 for fifth place, while Cuba replicated the winning scoreline against Turkey for seventh.

The World Cup was a prelude to UWW’s flagship event, the 2015 World Championships, due to be held from September 7 to 12 in Las Vegas.

It will be the first World Wrestling Championships held in the US since 2003, with 108 Olympic qualification positions for Rio 2016 at stake.

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