January 2018, Day 15, Endo v Tochinoshin

Forgoing his usual belt grip, Tochinoshin controls Endo’s torso with a left-side arm lock and a right arm deep under Endo’s armpit. Endo has a hold on Tochinoshin’s belt but can’t move the big Georgian, who trudges forward with ox-like strength until Endo is out of the ring. Endo finishes the tournament with a 9-6 record, and Tochinoshin, who clinched his first-ever top-division championship yesterday, pads his record to an unbelievable 14-1. Congrats again to Tochinoshin, the first mid-ranked wrestler to win the tournament in six years.

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January 2018, Day 15, Shohozan v Abi

After a false-start where Abi fails to get his hands down in time, Shohozan gives him a serious glare that nearly sends him off the dohyo with its intensity. But the restart sees Shohozan get out-Shohozanned, as Abi takes the win with a great display of dexterity and footwork. Both men should be happy with their results this tournament, Shohozan at 9-6 and Abi an excellent 10-5.

January 2018, Day 15, Kotoyuku v Ishiura

One thing you miss in these quick highlight videos is the pace of live sumo. The ritual, the pageantry, the building tension. The mind games. This slightly longer clip of Kotoyuki and Ishiura facing off before their bout and going through a couple of false starts gives you more of a taste of the real thing. The four or five minutes of build-up that lead to a 2-second bout give so much flavor to the 2 seconds, make it so much more impactful, it’s a vital part of sumo that I love. As for this bout, Kotoyuki drops his eighth loss for a make-koshi, and Ishiura finishes the tournament at 9-6.

January 2018, Day 15, Kyokutaisei v Nishikigi

Kyokutaisei, wrestling from the top position of the second-tier Juryo division, finishes the January tounament with an 8-7 record, so it’s likely that we’ll see his debut as a top-division Makuuchi wrestler in March. But then he’ll be facing Makuuchi-level competition every day, and it remains to be seen if he’s ready. Nishikigi needs this win today to keep his top-division rank, so he digs deep and fights back from the edge of the ring to push out Kyokutaisei and finish 8-7 as well.

January 2018, Day 14, Kakuryu v Takayasu

There’s some speculation that something is physically wrong with Yokozuna Kakuryu, but it’s honestly hard to tell against the fury of Takayasu. The Ozeki is a churning hive of activity, like thousands of bees clumped together into a 360lb dynamo. Kakuryu tries his best, though, a last-gasp push on Takayasu’s throat serving merely to anger the bees further. Takayasu launches Kakuryu off the dohyo for his eleventh win. All of this is academic however, as Tochinoshin has already clinched the championship.

January 2018, Day 14, Goeido v Mitakeumi

Goeido gets his kachi-koshi on Day 14, several days later than he would have liked. Finally returning to form, he gets a good launch at the tachiai and puts his head underneath Mitakeumi’s chin. Mitakeumi gets lifted up and backwards and doesn’t have enough of a grip on Goeido’s left arm to defend. Both will enter the final day at 8-6.

January 2018, Day 14, Takarafuji v Ichinojo

Ichinojo goes back on beast mode after his loss to Tochinoshin yesterday, rolling Takarafuji with a good shitatedashinage (pulling underarm throw). Takarafuji falls to 7-7, and Ichinojo improves to 9-5.