March 2018, Day 15, Mitakeumi v Goeido

Sekiwake Mitakeumi finishes the tournament with a disappointing record of 7-8, with his final day performance against Ozeki Goeido being one of the few bright spots. The two are fairly evenly matched in size and strength, and Mitakeumi has to keep his feet moving to match Goeido’s energy in this bout. Goeido uses a left-handed overarm grip to muscle Mitakeumi towards the edge of the ring, but when he loses that grip he’s forced to retreat. Mitakeumi sticks to him like natto on rice and crushes the Ozeki under his weight to win by abisetaoshi (backward force down). Goeido ends up with a 9-6 record.

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March 2018, Day 14, Takayasu v Mitakeumi

Oh, what a great bout. How in the world does Takayasu escape? Fantastic display of agility and strength by both men. Mitakeumi falls hard to his eighth loss, guaranteeing demotion next tournament. Takayasu continues another excellent tournament, improving to 11-3.

March 2018, Day 13, Mitakeumi v Hokutofuji

Mitakeumi shouldn’t have this much trouble with Hokutofuji, but here we are. The bout ends up very entertaining as a result, a rambling affair that weaves back and forth all across the dohyo. Hokutofuji survives a good left-handed sukuinage (beltless arm throw) attempt at the edge, and returns the favor with a dangerous push on Mitakeumi’s arm that sets up a strong throat shove, putting Mitakeumi on his heels. With victory in his sights, Hokutofuji lunges forward just as Mitakeumi escapes to the side, pushing down on Hokutofuji’s shoulders and driving him into the dirt. Big relief for Mitakeumi who avoids his eighth loss, improving to 6-7. Hokutofuji also finishes the day at 6-7.

March 2018, Day 12, Mitakeumi v Shodai

This was literally the only throwing technique in the entire top division today, and it’s beautiful. Mitakeumi looks good at the start, getting a right-handed overarm grip while clamping down on the other side on Shodai’s right arm. But Shodai reaches in for a left-handed underarm grip of his own, and it’s deep on the far side of Mitakeumi’s mawashi knot. Mitakeumi turns to throw Shodai, but his arm trails behind him without applying much force, and his grip on the belt isn’t secure enough to really move Shodai’s hips. Shodai uses his stronger belt grip to keep from falling over. Now it looks like Shodai’s got the advantage, with his left arm high under Mitakeumi’s armpit, hurting Mitakeumi’s posture and keeping that overarm grip relatively harmless. And then, the picture-perfect underarm throw. Stepping in front of Mitakeumi’s right foot with his left, Shodai plants his foot and uses his thigh as a fulcrum, putting all his force into that underarm grip and tossing Mitakeumi onto his back. Slow. Clap. Mitakeumi is now one loss away from his make-koshi at 5-7, while Shodai pulls even at 6-6.

March 2018, Day 11, Mitakeumi v Chiyomaru

Mitakeumi’s initial charge takes Chiyomaru to the edge of the ring, but Chiyomaru circles around, grabbing Mitakeumi by the face before getting an underarm grip on Mitakeumi’s belt. The two end up in the center of the ring, exactly 180ยบ from where they started, and hang out for a while. Mitakeumi is leaning on Chiyomaru’s arm, but he doesn’t really clamp down with an arm lock or try to reverse inside, so when Chiyomaru cinches up and starts walking, Mitakeumi’s got no defense. Not a bout Mitakeumi should lose, in my opinion. Both men finish the day at 5-6.

March 2018, Day 10, Mitakeumi v Shohozan

It’s an even bout at first, both men striking well but not overextending, until Shohozan yoinks sideways and gets a hand on Mitakeumi’s belt. Mitakeumi circles back around to the center of the ring, but in the scramble Shohozan finds a really deep left-handed grip all the way on the other side of the mawashi knot. With his right arm over Shohozan’s shoulder, and his torso too elevated, Mitakeumi can’t defend when Shohozan throws him down at the edge. 5-5 for Mitakeumi, 6-4 for Shohozan.

March 2018, Day 9, Mitakeumi v Kotoshogiku

Mitakeumi thinks he knows what Kotoshogiku’s trying. He thinks he knows because Kotoshogiku almost always tries the exact same thing. So when Mitakeumi has his heels on the tawara, with Kotoshogiku bumping up against him, he thinks he has to push back as hard as he can to keep from getting pushed out. And he’s not wrong. But he’s also completely taken off guard by Kotoshogiku’s sudden reversal, which turns his forward lean against him and sees him slung to the ground by sukuinage (beltless arm throw). Surprise!