Kisenosato suffered a devastating third consecutive defeat at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday, leaving him in a continual downward spiral and four wins behind undefeated yokozuna Kakuryu.
Kakuryu is tied at 5-0 with three others, including sekiwake Mitakeumi, in the early lead in his bid for his first championship since the 2016 November meet.
Kisenosato (1-4) and Kakuryu are both making their comebacks from injury after missing all or part of the past four tournaments. However, they suffered mixed fates on the fifth day of the 15-day meet at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Kisenosato fell to Yoshikaze (2-3) in the day’s final bout. The second-ranked maegashira displayed his dominance throughout, as he chased the grand champion off of the raised ring for his second straight yokozuna kill.
“Everything about the match was good,” said Yoshikaze, who defeated yokozuna Hakuho on Wednesday. “I tried to do whatever I could.”
Kakuryu, who is gunning for his fourth Emperor’s Cup, dispatched No. 3 Chiyotairyu (0-5) by pushing him out of the ring without giving his opponent room to breathe in a lopsided affair.
Hakuho pulled out of the meet due to toe injuries he sustained during Wednesday’s bout.
His scheduled opponent, second-ranked maegashira Kotoshogiku won by default, and will face Kakuryu in Friday’s final bout.
Georgian Tochinoshin defeated Ozeki Goeido (4-1) to maintain his spotless record. The third-ranked maegashira, who beat ozeki Takayasu the previous day, manhandled the Sakaigawa stable wrestler and ushered him out of the dohyo.
Fan-favorite Mitakeumi also maintained his lead in the tourney when he held onto the mawashi of fellow sekiwake Tamawashi (2-3) and forced his opponent backwards out of the raised ring.
Ozeki Takayasu (4-1) rebounded to beat Hokutofuji (1-4) in a slap fest and pushed the top-ranked maegashira out to earn his first win in four meetings.
No. 10 Aminishiki (1-4) continued to struggle in Tokyo.
He gifted seventh-ranked Chiyonokuni (1-4) his first win of the meet. Aminishiki bulldozed into the 27-year-old, but the younger wrestler twisted him down to the raised ring.