People adore Ura because of the kind of thing that happened in his match with Takakeisho today. A moment where things like physics and the natural world take a break and you gets a raw moment of “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” sumo. It does not happen every day, or even every basho, but if you look for it, there are Ura highlight reels on YouTube that just got another segment from today’s fight.
The yusho race is largely unchanged, with the schedulers waiting to gets Takanosho in the final three days. I expect that he will get at least one loss, and there will be a chance for both Terunofuji, and maybe Ura too, to try for the cup in the last two days. While I love the fact that speed demon Sadanoumi is in that same 9-3 bunch, I think they are going to brush him off shortly to bring the race down to 2 or 3 people.
Ryuden defeats Oho – Ryuden gets an immediate hazu-oshi from the tachiai. It only lasts a moment, but it’s enough to raise Oho up, and even though Ryuden breaks content, Oho never resets lower. From there its Ryuden on the attack until Oho steps out on the west side. That’s win number 8 for Ryuden, he is kachi-koshi for Natsu, and we may get to see him in the top division again in July if he can manage another win in Juryo.
Kagayaki defeats Chiyotairyu – You know its an odd day when bulky locomotive Chiyotairyu attempts a henka. It works about as well as you might expect, and gives Kagayaki a bit of an offensive advantage. Kagayaki looked to be dialed into his sumo, which I think comes with being at 7 losses as the last man on the banzuke. He delivered a couple of combos center-mass, and sent Chiyotairyu tumbling out. Kagayaki improves to 5-7.
Aoiyama defeats Azumaryu – Solid, simple and fundamentals based sumo from Aoiyama. He got his hands inside and delivered a sequence of pushes to Azumaryu’s chest. The first one broke his balance, the following ones send him back and out. That’s win number 8 for Aoiyama, and he is kachi-koshi for May at 8=4.
Meisei defeats Chiyoshoma – Meisei had a bit of an early launch, but the gyoji did not call it, so the match proceeded. The two grappled at the center of the ring, and it was immediately apparent that Meisei had come equipped with a very loose mawashi today. As Chiyoshoma was working hard toward some kind of belt throw, the mawashi proved to distract him from his sumo, and Meisei moved him back and out as Chiyoshoma was struggling to improve his grip. Meisei finishes the day 6-6.
Okinoumi defeats Yutakayama – For the opening moments of the fight, it was a very evenly balanced pushing match. But For some reason Yutakayama attempted to break contact, and dropped his defense. Okinoumi charged ahead, pushing Yutakayama back and out, improving to 6-6.
Kotoshoho defeats Midorifuji – Impressive speed from Kotoshoho today. He quickly grabs Midorifuji at the tachiai, runs him back and crushes him out at the tawara. Midorifuji tried a rescue throw at the bales, but it was going nowhere. Both end the day in the middle of the funnel at 6-6.
Tochinoshin defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu starts strong, but he can’t keep Tochinoshin moving. Paused chest to chest near the middle of the ring, Tochinoshin finds his left hand outside grip, and from there it’s three quick steps to the bales, and Tochinoshin’s 8th win to end the day 8-4 and kachi-koshi for Natsu.
Sadanoumi defeats Shimanoumi – Sadanoumi continues his dominance over Shimanoumi, getting low and inside, then proceeding to drive him immediately out. Sadanoumi improves to 9-3.
Kotokuzan defeats Terutsuyoshi – Kotokuzan finally picks up his second win of the basho. He did it by keeping Terutsuyoshi off of his mawashi, and then chasing him around the ring. The last in a series of blows sent Terutsuyoshi out, improving Kotokuzan to 2-10, and delivering Terutsuyoshi his 8th loss. He is make-koshi for Natsu.
Nishikigi defeats Kotoeko – For the first time in their sumo careers, Nishikigi has been able to beat Kotoeko. The secret to Nishikigi’s sumo today was patience, and working towards a left hand outside grip. Once he was able to get that grip, it was quick work to finish Kotoeko with an uwatenage. Nishikigi finishes the day at 6-6.
Takanosho defeats Ichiyamamoto – Tehre was a small chance that Ichiyamamoto could have scrambled the leaderboard for us, but given their huge rank difference, there was never much chance. Points to Ichiyamamoto for a pull attempt at the tachiai that got Takanosho off balance, but the yusho race leader was able to keep his feet enough to drive Ichiyamamoto out first. Takanosho improves to 10-2 and remains in sole possession of the lead.
Endo defeats Hokutofuji – No grip attempt from Endo today to start the match, he takes Hokutofuji on in a thrusting battle. The two exchange pulling attacks, with Endo’s having some effect. He gets behind Hokutofuji and runs him out from behind to improve to 5-7.
Wakamotoharu defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama attempted some kind of flying pull down henka at the tachiai. It failed spectacularly. Kiribayama did manage to get a left hand inside grip, and was able to stay in the match and fighting. This unfolded into a protracted yotsu battle, with neither man able to gain enough advantage to do much more that struggle for a better grip. It was Kiribayama who tired first, and Wakamotoharu took his opening, driving Kiribayama out to improve to 8-4, and complete his kachi-koshi for Natsu.
Takayasu defeats Takarafuji – Takayasu nearly lost this match by making the critical mistake of focusing his attacks on Takarafuji’s non-existent neck. Takarafuji made him pay, driving him back and nearly over the tawara (a healthy Takarafuji would have dispatched Takayasu at this point). But Takayasu was able to arrest his slide, and tossed Takarafuji to the clay, improving to 4-8.
Hoshoryu defeats Kotonowaka – Hoshoryu got the inside route and attacked Kotonowaka center-mass. Showing excellent foot placement, and good body position, Hoshoryu attacked from underneath, and there was nothing Kotonowaka could do but move back, and eventually out. Hoshoryu improves to 7-5.
Daieisho defeats Tamawashi – Sadly Tamawashi has faded from being part of the leader group to now being the middle of the funnel. Daieisho gets a solid hit at the tachiai, and steps to the side for Tamawashi’s counter strike. That’s win number 8 for Daieisho, and he improves to 8-4 and is kachi-koshi for Natsu.
Shodai defeats Tobizaru – An oblique attack by Tobizaru at the tachiai was well executed, and got Shodai to the edge of the ring in a hurry. But Tobizaru’s finishing move was partially deflected by Shodai, and they stepped out together. It was monoii time. The replay showed Shodai touching first, but the shimpan called for a redo. Second match, its all Shodai, who pushes Tobizaru out to improve to 5-7.
Abi defeats Mitakeumi – Abi-zumo made fast work of Mitakeumi today, landing his initial strike against Mitakeumi’s neck. From there Abi powered forward, and Mitakeumi could not break away. Abi improves to 6-6.
Ura defeats Takakeisho – Ura used his forearm as a defensive shield against Takakeisho’s opening thrust, and it worked. But Takakeisho was on the attack, and Ura could only try to keep his feet and stay in the ring. As Takakeisho pushed him over the bales, one of those strange Ura moments took place. Suddenly gravity eased up, momentum took a break, and Ura executed a circular fall in mid-air, getting just enough purchase to push Takakeisho out from behind. Of course there was a monoii, as everyone within a 100 mile radius wondered what the hell just happened. No, it really did happen that way, and Ura takes the win to advance to 9-3, and Takakeisho heads to the tunnel to watch the replay and figure out “how”.
Terunofuji defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage gave the Yokozuna a strong fight, but eventually Terunofuji got his double arm lock set up. Sure Wakatakakage had morozashi, but could not do anything about it. Terunofuji took his time and eventually lifted Wakatakakage for another kimedashi win. Terunofuji stays one win behind Takanosho at 9-3.