By Joshua Hagen
Welcome to the second instalment of Fight Review. This time around, we’re going with the World Number 3-ranked Frank De Wit against world number 2-ranked Saeid Mollaei in the Ekaterinaburg Grand Slam bronze medal match. Both are big throwers, and this is the fourth match between the two 81kg fighters. Now, I’m sure you have heard of De Wit, but you may not be as familiar with Mollaei. Going into this matchup, Mollaei is an incredible 3-0 against De Wit, and all 3 victories have been by ippon.
At 22, De Wit is already a household name. He is a Junior World Champion, and has already won 2 Grand Slams, including the prestigious Paris Grand Slam, in 2017.
He is an imposing figure, massive, in fact, and at first glance you might think he had been chiseled out of stone. He works almost entirely from a high, right hand grip, oftentimes reaching halfway down his opponent’s back. He has a strong O Soto Gari as well as a good position for Harai from this grip. Surprisingly, given his stature, he also has an effective Tomoe Nage/ Sumi Gaeshi.
Saeid Mollaei, on the other hand, is probably one of the most under-appreciated judoka in the world. He has both a World bronze medal and a Grand Slam gold medal under his belt.
He hails from Iran, which is not exactly a hotbed for judo, but has still produced some great judoka. The most celebrated of these would be Arash Miresmaeili. A spectacular -66kg fighter with two World titles and two World bronze medals. Mollaei looks to be approaching a similar career in his own right. His style is quite fascinating to me, in almost every context. It would not surprise me to hear that he did a significant amount of wrestling in his past: when you watch him approach for kumikata, his stance is quite incredibly low. It’s such an exaggerated position that I believe he’s doing it in order to limit his opponent’s gripping options. His stance is left: he loves to work from the clinch. He has a crazy double-sleeve Kata Guruma/Suplex that indicates that he trained at a pretty high level in wrestling, or at minimum has been heavily influenced by wrestling. He also has a very interesting way of preventing the Bow and Arrow choke when attempting a same-side Drop Seoi Nage, see the in depth analysis video posted below. Thanks for reading and watching, and I hope you enjoy!
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