The Aki carnage continues, as we lost two more competitors at the start of day 8. We now know that Yokozuna Kakuryu withdrew due to injury to his medial collateral ligament (MCL) which is the connective tissued that runs through the center of the knee and connects the thigh bone to the lower leg. We hope it’s not serious. We also had Myogiryu pull out of the tournament with an injury to his right calf muscle. We have written extensively on sumo’s injury and training problems in the top division, but old institutions are slow to change. We hope that Myogiryu can bounce back soon.
This leaves Ozeki Goeido as the top ranked man in the tournament, with the badly injured Tochinoshin holding up the #2 slot. I am sure that injured Ozeki Takayasu is cursing his misfortune right now.
In the yusho race, it has been greatly simplified for the moment, both Okinoumi and Meisei won, leaving them as exclusive #1 and #2 while the rest of the 1 loss crowd added a second loss today. It appears that the scheduling team are done giving Okinoumi easy opponents, starting on day 9 with the somewhat questionable Ryuden. Readers should note that Okinoumi is a high-skill veteran that is more than up to the task of beating more or less anyone still in competition at this point. It’s his yusho to lose now. Be prepared for a possible Cinderella story in the making.
Tokushoryu defeats Ishiura – Tokushoryu read Ishiura’s intent to henka, and played it perfectly, capping it with a dismissive look of disgust at his opponent. Ishiura falls out of the group within range of Okinoumi.
Tsurugisho defeats Tochiozan – It’s odd to say that Tochiozan lost due to balance and footwork, but Tsurugisho performed an excellent push and pull combo at the tachiai to lay the veteran down on the clay. Tochiozan is in dire need of a rally before he finds himself on boat down to Juryo.
Kagayaki defeats Toyonoshima – Toyonoshima drove for and secured the inside position at the tachiai, but his body and foot position was poor, while Kagayaki kept his hips over the arches of his feet, and his shoulders square. A shrug and a push and Toyonoshima went reeling for the bales.
Shohozan defeats Takagenji – Shohozan took initiative, then gave it to Takagenji who could not keep himself balanced. Takagenji has had his ups and downs, but he’s been a mess this September, and with good cause.
Daishoho defeats Azumaryu – I am going to guess that Daishoho has finally found his sumo again, and is starting to fight like he wants to. Azumaryu had a soft, almost non-existent tachiai, and although he tried to load a throw against Daishoho, he could not complete and Daishoho escorted him out.
Nishikigi defeats Enho – Nishikigi successfully blocked Enho’s attempt to go in and under, and left the fire-pixie switching the plan B. But Nishikigi, to his credit, continues to shift and attack at Enho’s center-mass. One of the better “Beat Enho” matches in a while, Nishikigi used a simple and effective plan to win.
Yutakayama defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki showed some great strength and timing today, although Yutakayama won the tachiai, Kotoyuki drove for and got the inside position for his thrusting attack. Kotoyuki’s gambit forced Yutakayama back, but Kotoyuki did not survive Yutakayama’s pivot at the tawara to rescue the match.
Okinoumi defeats Onosho – Onosho took the fight to the yusho race leader, but Okinoumi keep the distance close enough that Onosho could neither maneuver with much effect, nor push with much force. Having boxed Onosho, Okinoumi used his body to ram Onosho back and out. Okinoumi has, in the past, faced a few really ugly health problems, and I marvel at his performance thus far. Tomorrow he starts climbing the torikumi, facing Ryuden in a test of how far the man from Shimane is going to take this.
Sadanoumi defeats Kotoshogiku – It looked like Kotoshogiku was not quite sure what he was going to do at the tachiai. Hit and shift? But Sadanoumi took away any room he had to recover by attacking furiously and keeping the former Ozeki from getting his feet set for defense.
Meisei defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko had only one brief burst of offense, but the match was really all Meisei, who picks up the white star and remains 1 behind Okinoumi.
Shimanoumi defeats Terutsuyoshi – I have to applaud Terutsuyoshi’s effort here, his sumo was strong and powerful, but he managed to get just a bit too far forward as he tried to put his whole weight on Shimanoumi’s belly to force him out. Shimanoumi had the skill to swing Terutsuyoshi around for the loss.
Ryuden defeats Daieisho – Yep, its about time for Ryuden to rally. Daieisho made him work for it, and his thrusting attack was well executed, but ultimately off balance. Ryuden gave ground and used the tawara to pivot the off-balance Daieisho to rescue the win. Although Ryuden has long legs, he tends to keep a very low, wide stance that tends to frustrate his opponents (as it did today).
Asanoyama defeats Aoiyama – I got happy when Aoiyama opened up with the big V-Twin thrusting attack at the tachiai. I thought, “Yeah, here we go, Aoiyama is back into his sumo”. But Big Dan seems to be a bit hurt, and Asanoyama is that good. An attempt by Aoiyama to pull Asanoyama down left him chest to chest with the Natsu yusho winner, and that was all it took. Aoiyama put up some resistance, but quickly realized he was done, went soft and prevented any injury.
Hokutofuji defeats Abi – Hokutofuji chances out of the silver mawashi, and just like that his sumo seems to spring back. This is one of the things I really love about Hokutofuji: you can beat his upper body bloody, but his lower body seems to be an independent creature, moving forward relentlessly no matter how much damage his face and chest sustain. Abi lands blows like summer rain, but nothing stops Hokutofuji’s advance. I want to see Hokutofuji vs Okinoumi in week 2, should it please the Great Sumo Cat.
Endo defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu looked like he was out for blood today, that was some forceful sumo applied with conviction. Endo took it all in and kept fighting for his opportunity, and when it came he made Chiyotairyu taste the clay.
Takakeisho defeats Mitakeumi – Some fans wonder what happened to Mitakeumi today, but did you see it? The “Wave Action Tsuppari” attack at last. The first massive double arm shove landed before Mitakeumi could finish his tachiai. Then again and again. There was really nothing for it at that point. Takakeisho’s one moment of weakness was an attempt to slap down Mitakeumi, but man from Nagano could not exploit that brief opening. 4 More to go, please hurry. Sumo is terribly short of workable Ozeki right now.
Tomokaze defeats Goeido – I guess this is what we get from Tomokaze now? Yes he is winning, but as we have seen over and over again, the guys who are always pulling eventually get figured out. I guess he can and should enjoy it while it lasts. I was hoping for a contender.
Tochinoshin defeats Shodai – Tochinoshin had the good fortune of landing a right hand mawashi grip, and never let go. This drastically reduced the amount of chaos Shodai could generate, and I think was the key to his win. As with his prior matches, the damage to that heavily bandaged knee prevents him form his normally enormous forward strength. If he can make his 8, I am going to consider it a petty miracle. But he has just enough room to probably do it.