No. 5 maegashira Midorifuji overcame trickster Ura on Monday to keep his perfect record and retain the outright lead after nine days of action at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

The diminutive Midorifuji (9-0) faced a difficult opponent in the shape of No. 8 stocky rank-and-filer Ura (5-4), who initially looked comfortable containing the smaller tournament leader at Edion Arena Osaka.

Midorifuji (L) beats Ura on the ninth day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on March 20, 2023, at Edion Arena Osaka, western Japan. (Kyodo)

But Midorifuji did not back off, and his pressure forced Ura to attempt a pull-down, allowing Midorifuji to swiftly drive forward before winning emphatically with a push-down.

The tournament is without a wrestler from the top two ranks, yokozuna and ozeki, for the first time since the start of Japan's Showa era in 1926.

Midorifuji's Isegahama stablemate, lone yokozuna Terunofuji, remains sidelined following knee surgery last October, while ozeki Takakeisho pulled out on Saturday with a left knee injury.

Komusubi Daieisho (8-1) stayed a win back of Midorifuji, reeling off his trademark shoves to thrust down hapless No. 1 veteran Tamawashi (1-8) to secure a winning record.

Komusubi Kotonowaka was one of three wrestlers to improve to 7-2, patiently fending off lively attacks from former ozeki Shodai (6-3) before pushing down the No. 1 maegashira.

No. 6 Endo and No. 7 Takayasu also won their bouts to stay in the title race, but top-tier makuuchi debutant and No. 14 Kinbozan (6-3) suffered a defeat.

Three sekiwake, now the highest-ranked wrestlers for the meet, all won as Hoshoryu and Kiribayama improved to 6-3 and Wakatakakage 4-5.