|Date||12 August 2012|
|Location||ExCeL, Newham, London (North Arena 2)|
|Participants||17 from 17 countries|
|Format||Single elimination tournament. Competitors losing to the finalists entered repechage tournament for bronze medals.|
Reza Yazdani of Iran was the reigning World Champion in men’s heavyweight freestyle wrestling, but he had also found success as a light-heavyweight earlier in his career, with two World Championship bronze medals (2006 and 2007) and an Asian Games title from 2006. He had switched to heavyweight in 2010 and again won a gold medal in the Asian Games, as well as at that year’s Asian Championships. Yazdani was a favorite, but he was expected to be challenged by Abdusalam Gadisov who, as the 2012 European Champion, represented the strong Russian presence in this event, as Russian wrestlers had won the past two Olympics. These two were the favorites and, when they were drawn into the same bracket, the question of who would challenge for gold remained an elusive one.
Yazdani and Gadisov met in the 1/8th finals, where Yazdani emerged victorious and moved on to the semi-finals, where he experienced intense pain from an old knee injury in the first period fight against Valeriy Andriitsev of Ukraine and had to be taken out of the arena in a wheelchair. Andriitsev was the runner-up at the most recent European Championships and met Jake Varner of the United States in the gold medal match, who was a bronze medalist from the 2011 World Championships. The two were ferocious, but evenly-matched, in the final but Varner was able to score just one point in each period to earn the Olympic crown.
The first bronze medal bout was contested between Kurban Kurbanov of Uzbekistan, 2011 Asian Champion, runner-up at the 2010 Asian Games, and bronze medalist at the 2007 World Championships, and Giorgi Gogshelidze of Georgia, a former competitor for Russia who was a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, 2001 World Champion, and 2008 European Champion among a host of other accolades. Kurbanov managed to push Gogshelidze out of the ring in the first period to win it, but the Georgian got his revenge by scoring four unanswered points in the first minute of the second round. In the final period, Gogshelidze continued to be dominant and evoked little response from the Uzbek, winning the bronze medal with a score of 2-0. The battle for the final podium spot would ostensibly have been between Yazdani and the winner of repêchage round two but, with the Iranian injured, the true deciding match was the repêchage, fought between Rustam Iskandari of Tajikistan, a rookie, and Xetaq Qazyumov of Azerbaijan, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, 2010 World Champion, 2009 world runner-up, and thrice European Champion (2009-2011). Qazyumov was the overwhelming favorite and did not disappoint; although Iskandari scored the first point, he was not able to repeat it, losing 1-3 and 0-3 to give the Azerbaijani his second Olympic bronze.
Winner of each match advanced to round two. Losers to eventual finalists advanced to repêchage round one.
|Match #1||Giorgi Gogshelidze||GEO||Bye|
|Match #2||Saleh Emara||EGY||Bye|
|Match #3||Nicolai Ceban||MDA||Bye|
|Match #4||Sinivie Boltic||NGR||Bye|
|Match #5||Khetag Pliev||CAN||Bye|
|Match #6||Javier Cortina||CUB||Bye|
|Match #7||Jake Varner||USA||Bye|
|Match #8||Kurban Kurbanov||UZB||Bye|
|Match #9||Valeriy Andriitsev||UKR||Bye|
|Match #10||Rustam Iskandari||TJK||Bye|
|Match #11||Xetaq Qazyumov||AZE||Bye|
|Match #12||Ruslan Sheikhau||BLR||Bye|
|Match #13||Reza Yazdani||IRI||Bye|
|Match #14||Abdusalam Gadisov||RUS||Taymuraz Tigiyev||KAZ||Decision (2 - 1)|
|Match #15||Magomed Musayev||KGZ||Serhat Balcı||TUR||Decision (3 - 1)|
|Match #16||Takao Isokawa||JPN||Nathaniel Tuamoheloa||ASA||Injury (–)|
Winner of each match advanced to quarter-finals. Losers to eventual finalists advanced to repêchage round one.
|Match #1||Giorgi Gogshelidze||GEO||Saleh Emara||EGY||Walkover|
|Match #2||Nicolai Ceban||MDA||Sinivie Boltic||NGR||Decision (2 - 1)|
|Match #3||Khetag Pliev||CAN||Javier Cortina||CUB||Decision (3 - 4)|
|Match #4||Jake Varner||USA||Kurban Kurbanov||UZB||Decision (2 - 1)|
|Match #5||Valeriy Andriitsev||UKR||Rustam Iskandari||TJK||Decision (6 - 1)|
|Match #6||Xetaq Qazyumov||AZE||Ruslan Sheikhau||BLR||Decision by shutout (2 - 0)|
|Match #7||Reza Yazdani||IRI||Abdusalam Gadisov||RUS||Decision (6 - 4)|
|Match #8||Magomed Musayev||KGZ||Takao Isokawa||JPN||Decision (3 - 1)|
Winner of each match advanced to semi-finals. Losers to eventual finalists advanced to repêchage round two.
|Match #1||Giorgi Gogshelidze||GEO||Nicolai Ceban||MDA||Decision by shutout (2 - 0)|
|Match #2||Jake Varner||USA||Khetag Pliev||CAN||Decision by shutout (2 - 0)|
|Match #3||Valeriy Andriitsev||UKR||Xetaq Qazyumov||AZE||Decision (5 - 2)|
|Match #4||Reza Yazdani||IRI||Magomed Musayev||KGZ||Decision (6 - 2)|
Winner of each match advanced to final. Losers advanced to repêchage final.
|Match #1||Jake Varner||USA||Giorgi Gogshelidze||GEO||Decision (2 - 2)|
|Match #2||Valeriy Andriitsev||UKR||Reza Yazdani||IRI||Injury (1:17)|
Winner of each match advanced to repêchage round two.
|Match #1||Kurban Kurbanov||UZB||Bye|
|Match #2||Rustam Iskandari||TJK||Bye|
Winner of each match advanced to repêchage final.
|Match #1||Kurban Kurbanov||UZB||Khetag Pliev||CAN||Decision (5 - 1)|
|Match #2||Xetaq Qazyumov||AZE||Rustam Iskandari||TJK||Decision (6 - 1)|
|Match #1||Giorgi Gogshelidze||GEO||Kurban Kurbanov||UZB||Decision (6 - 1)|
|Match #2||Xetaq Qazyumov||AZE||Reza Yazdani||IRI||Injury (–)|
|Match 1/2||Jake Varner||USA||Valeriy Andriitsev||UKR||Decision by shutout (2 - 0)|