Rank-and-file grappler Daieisho sprang an upset against outright leader Terunofuji at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Monday, handing the Mongolian-born powerhouse his first loss as a yokozuna.

The newly promoted yokozuna dropped to 8-1 after failing to establish his favored belt grip and being forced out by No. 4 maegashira Daieisho in the final bout on Day 9 at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Former sekiwake Daieisho (6-3) fought desperately to protect his belt at the jump before shoving the stunned title favorite off balance and over the edge.

“I never would have had a chance if I allowed Terunofuji to get a belt grip, so that was the one thing I wanted to prevent,” said Daieisho, the surprise winner of this year’s January tournament.

“I don’t remember that much, but I was able to go forward, fighting and attacking without a break.”

Despite the defeat, Terunofuji maintained a one-win buffer after his closest rival on the leaderboard coming into Day 9, No. 10 Myogiryu (7-2), was pushed out by No. 6 Onosho (7-2). The result saw the pair join three other rank-and-filers in a tie for second at 7-2.

The sole yokozuna in the absence of Hakuho — whose entire stable has been kept out of the 15-day tournament under COVID-19 safety rules — Terunofuji will face No. 6 Ura on Day 10.

His bid for a fifth Emperor’s Cup has been aided by subpar performances among the wrestlers directly beneath him in the three sanyaku ranks.

The strongest sanyaku performer through Day 8, sekiwake Mitakeumi (6-3), may have fallen out of the title race after taking his third loss against No. 2 Kiribayama (6-3).

Avoiding the brunt of Mitakeumi’s charge, the promotion-seeking maegashira spun him around and shoved him out from behind.

Demotion-threatened kadoban ozeki Takakeisho improved to 5-4 in a bruising battle with komusubi Takayasu (3-6).

The pair exchanged heavy blows in the middle before Takakeisho drove the former ozeki over the edge.

The result continued a turnaround for Takakeisho, who pulled out of the July meet with a neck injury and started the current tournament with three straight losses.

Ozeki Shodai improved to 6-3 after coming perilously close to an upset loss against No. 5 Chiyoshoma (1-8).

The maegashira took Shodai to the edge with a stiff arm, but the ozeki held firm with his feet on top of the straw and rallied back for a victory by pushout.

New sekiwake Meisei improved to 4-5 by beating No. 4 Tamawashi (3-6), absorbing the Mongolian maegashira’s opening blast and thrusting him out.

Struggling komusubi Ichinojo (3-6) faces an uphill to secure the winning record needed to keep his rank. The giant Mongolian was forced out by No. 1 Takanosho (5-4), who is bidding for promotion back to sanyaku.

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