Asashoryu, the resident bad boy of the sumo world, announced his retirement from Japan's national sport on Thursday. This announcement comes right on the heels of a convincing victory at the January grand tournament, his 25th championship. The retirement follows allegations of a drunken brawl during a night on the town in Tokyo.
Rumors have surfaced that the sumo-tori is being courted by some of the prominent Japanese MMA organizations, where he would be a huge draw due to his reputation both in and out of competition. I can't help feel like it would be another "freak-show" attraction if he did enter MMA competition, similar to the use of other celebrities and athletes such as Jose Canseco and Herschel Walker. Still, at only 29 years old, Asashoryu is still very young for a fighter, and could feasibly become a legitimate competitor if he trains for it. As a big fan of the wrestler, I must admit that I've always hoped he would step into the cage eventually.
What would he need to make it? Cardio would be the first thing to work on. Other sumo-tori who tried MMA (Chad "Akebono" Rowan, Emmanuel Yarborough, and others) quickly found themselves gassed after the first few minutes of stalking down their opponents. This is because sumo matches are short bouts of explosive energy, not the long wars that MMA matches tend to be. If Asashoryu can bring his endurance up to speed, he'll at least have gotten himself a real chance at victory, should he decide to give the sport a shot.