Dave Meltzer reports in the Wrestling Observer (subscription only):
FEG promoter Sadaharu Tanigawa announced that the company's target to land a major star for the annual New Year's Eve Dynamite! show is Asashoryu, the Mongolian sumo legend who was the biggest star in that sport when he was forced to retire in February after allegations he beat up a man outside a night club.
Asashoryu, 30, has been the biggest star in sumo for more than seven years, and an all-time great in the sport. He won a total of 25 tournaments during his career, third on the all-time list. He comes from a wrestling family. His older brother, Sumiyabazar Dolgolsuren, wrestled and lost to Kurt Angle in the 1996 Olympics and also competed in the 2000 Olympics, and did both MMA and pro wrestling in Japan. Another brother wrestled full-time for New Japan for several years as Blue Wolf. While it's a different era, when Sumiyabazar Dolgolsuren faced Bob Sapp in an MMA match on March 13, 2004, it did a 33.2 rating and 36 million viewers, and was at the time the single most watched MMA match in history. The draw was Sapp facing Asashoryu's brother. Sapp won that match, and he would be the perfect celebrity opponent should they sign Asashoryu, a small superheavyweight who is 6-feet tall and in sumo ranged from 285 to 325 pounds, but would be considerably lighter as a fighter. An even bigger potential opponent would be Satoshi Ishii, who not only attended but played a part in Asashoryu's retirement ceremony on 10/3 at Sumo Hall on a show Asashoryu promoted himself.
However, Tanigawa talked this week about matching Ishii with Jerome LeBanner. FEG's New Year's Eve idea was Ishii vs. Peter Aerts, K-1's most famous legend, although now 40 and past his prime. But with Aerts qualifying for the K-1 World Grand Prix finals on 12/11, that was out of the question. LeBanner was in a fight on the 10/2 World Grand Prix final 16 show in Seoul, South Korea, against Kyotaro. The judges ruled what was an exciting fight a draw, which by tournament rules, meant they would go into a fourth overtime round. LeBanner was gassed in the third round, acted appalled when the decision was read, and walked off. There has been no talk of punishment for LeBanner, which shows the difference as in the U.S. something like that wouldn't be tolerated. Tanigawa indicated the match wish Ishii would be under kickboxing rules, as Ishii is looking to challenge himself, which given his very limited standup training, he'd likely not do well. Under MMA rules, it would be a more intriguing fight.
This is a very tantalizing possibility, but I don't expect it to come to fruition any more than I did when Asashoryu formed an MMA team and placed a fighter in Sengoku.
It's just hard to believe that FEG can come up with the cash it would take to get Asahoryu in the ring. But I can guarantee you this -- Asahoryu vs Ishii on New Year's Eve would draw blockbuster ratings in Japan.
Sergio Non pointed out the terrible track record of previous sumo in MMA:
Asashoryu may want to consider how his predecessors have fared. Competitors with sumo experience have a poor record in MMA, including Chad "Akebono" Rowan (0-4), Henry "Sentoryu" Miller (6-9), Tadao Yasuda (2-4), Alan Karaev (2-3), Emmanuel Yarborough (1-2) and Teila Tuli (0-1).
But of that group, only Akebono reached the yokozuna level. Asashoryu seems to be much quicker and more explosive than Akebono, who was accused of winning solely on size rather than talent or technique.
But like Sergio says, Asashoryu was a better sumo and as I blogged before, Asashoryu has a back ground in Mongolian wrestling and an excellent build for MMA.
Asashoryu vs Ishii would be a fairly evenly match fight between two promising neophytes. I can't help myself, I'm getting my hopes up.