January 2017, Day 8, Ichinojo v Chiyonokuni

After missing the entire September 2016 tournament due to injury, Ichinojo decided to slim down a bit to gain more mobility. In November it seemed like he was still adjusting to his (admittedly, only very slightly) smaller frame, but this tournament things are coming together. Granted, he’s still a huge dude and will never be as fleet-footed as a Sokokurai or Ishiura, but he looks less lumbering and has turned in an excellent 6-2 record over the first eight days of the tournament. Today he throws a huge right shoulder at the tachiai which would have flattened Chiyonokuni had the smaller man not dodged left and deflected the brunt of the blow. The Ichinojo of old would have been sprawled on the dirt at this point, unable to stop his forward momentum, but the new trim version turns on a dime and is ready to absorb Chiyonokuni’s ferocious tsuppari (slap) attack. After a few seconds of hand fighting, with Chiyonokuni unable to budge Ichinojo, Chiyonokuni turns up the gas and unleashes a blistering flurry at Ichinojo’s face. When Ichinojo tries to deflect the attack from underneath, Chiyonokuni pulls down at Ichinojo’s arms and wallops the side of his head from the right. But Ichinojo keeps his feet moving and doesn’t go down, cutting off the ring and keeping Chiyonokuni on his heels. Chiyonokuni’s last deflection of Ichinojo’s bulk comes too late, as his right heel has already stepped out of the ring. Ichinojo wins by oshidashi, or front push out.

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