Retired sumo star Asashoryu might be serious about mixed martial arts, after all.
An official with World Victory Road says Asashoryu has started an MMA team for athletes from his native country of Mongolia, according to the Nightmare of Battle. World Victory Road runs Sengoku Raiden Championships, one of Japan"s two leading MMA brands along with K-1"s Dream organization.
Dream and Sengoku have been open about their interest in Asashoryu as soon as he announced his retirement from sumo in February, following his latest controversial episode in a career rife with them.
Sumo athletes generally have not done well in MMA competition, but none as talented or accomplished as Asashoryu, who was just the third non-Japanese in sumo"s long history to become a yokozuna, the sport"s highest rank. A surprisingly quick and agile 330-pounder, he ranks third on the all-time list for tournament wins at the top level of sumo.
Also during the World Victory Road press conference, flashy veteran Akihiro Gono confirmed that he is trying to drop to lightweight. He spent years as a 183-pounder before cutting to 170 when he joined the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2007. He stayed at welterweight after Sengoku picked him up in 2009, following his release from UFC.
Gono is scheduled to make his lightweight debut Aug. 22 at Sengoku 14.