Sumo wrestling is one of Japan’s most famous cultural traditions. It’s blown up in the last few years with more and more foreign athletes joining their ranks. But even though it’s a very respected martial tradition, very few MMA fighters have a background in the art.
That’s not surprising considering the size of these men. They weigh an average of 330lbs and consume a staggering 20,000 calories a day. So it shouldn’t be surprising that UFC heavyweights couldn’t beat them at their own game. Enter Curtis Blaydes and Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson who gave it a good shot.
Check out the highlights from the UFC fighters’ entry into the sport. They won’t be winning any championships anytime soon, that’s for sure. Those outfits definitely aren’t very flattering either. Johnson was more worried about his Johnson than he was about losing to Blaydes.
Blaydes and Johnson took part in the SubStars grappling event. Actual Sumo wrestlers Takeshi Imatani and Ryuichi Yamamoto joined them in a round-robin contest. With all four men wearing the traditional Mawashi – the iconic belt – it made for great viewing for all in attendance.
In short, the rules are simple. Both wrestlers crouch and then charge when the gyoji (referee) signals. The winner is the one who manages to throw the other out of the ring or to the ground first. Bouts only last for a single round and usually end in seconds. There are no weight divisions either. While size definitely helps, superior technique can also win you a match.
The two UFC fighters competed against Imatani and Yamamoto first. Imatani weighs in at 245lbs. That’s pretty standard for an MMA heavyweight but Blaydes still struggled against him and eventually lost. After Daniel Cormier, Blaydes is one of the best heavyweight grapplers in MMA today.
Johnson faced Yamamoto next. The Japanese wrestler is an astounding 600lbs. He totally overwhelmed ‘Rumble’ who is not a small man either. He picked up the former light-heavyweight contender and put him down outside the cage. It was an awesome display of strength and power. When Blaydes took on Yamamoto, he ended up with the Japanese on top of him. Rather him than us.
But the highlight of the night for most was when the two UFC fighters faced off. Johnson was worried about his man parts slipping out all night and continuously adjusted his Mawashi. Blaydes looked more focused as he assumed the ready position. Then he used a slick technique to put Rumble on the floor.
Considering Sumo wrestlers live for an average of 60-65 years, we don’t think many UFC fighters will be quitting MMA anytime soon. They must also abide by a lot of rules. The Sumo governing body forbids wrestlers to drive. In fact, most of them are too big to get behind the wheel of a car. In order to gain weight, they skip breakfast and eat a large stew for lunch, with beer, followed by a nap.
It’s also extremely hierarchal. Younger wrestlers in a stable must do chores while the more established stars (sekitori) can focus on resting or dealing with their fan clubs. They also sleep in communal dormitories while the sekitori get their own rooms. Liver problems, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure are all common.