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Ex-ozeki Baruto awaits mixed martial arts debut

Kyodo

Former ozeki Baruto will turn professional as a mixed martial artist and join the Rizin Fighting Federation, Rizin announced on Thursday.

The Estonian-born Baruto, whose real name is Kaido Hoovelson, is set to make his Rizin debut at Saitama Super Arena at the end of this year.

“I love mixed martial arts,” the 30-year-old Baruto told a news conference in Tokyo. “I want to be the strongest fighter in the world.”

A former nightclub bouncer known for his quirky sense of humor, Baruto lost his ozeki rank at the end of 2012 after injury problems and retired from sumo in September 2013.

He has been training since then and says he has shed 25 kg.

“I’m in good shape,” he said with a grin.