Sole leader and No. 15 maegashira Atamifuji suffered his second defeat at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday, his lead shrinking to just one win over 12th-day winners ozeki Takakeisho and No. 7 rank-and-filer Takayasu.
Atamifuji (10-2) stayed calm and stood his ground under a barrage of shoves from Daieisho (8-4), but was unable to react to a sharp pull-down from the sekiwake and fell to the clay at Ryogoku Kokugikan where the one-time Emperor's Cup winner secured a winning record at the 15-day meet.
It has been a breakthrough tournament for Atamifuji in only his second meet at the elite makuuchi division after the 21-year-old went 4-11 on his top-tier debut November and fought the following four meets back in the second-tier juryo.
Ozeki Takakeisho (9-3) was at his solid best as he pushed new sekiwake Kotonowaka (6-6) around and out of the raised ring. The victory has set up an intriguing head-to-head encounter with Atamifuji for Friday, when the pair will face each other for the first time.
No. 7 Takayasu (9-3) also stayed in contention by the skin of his teeth. With a foot on the straw bales, the former ozeki slapped down komusubi Nishikigi (5-7) to snap his two-match losing run.
No. 16 Tsurugisho (8-4) was beaten by No. 4 Ura (6-6), with the stocky trickster getting a firm left underarm belt hold to floor his bigger opponent with a hooking inner thigh throw at the edge.
Demotion-threatened "kadoban" ozeki Kirishima (7-5) remained a win away from securing his place at sumo's second highest rank after failing to fend off a grappling counter by sekiwake Wakamotoharu (7-5), his late beltless throw failing to bear fruit.
New ozeki Hoshoryu (6-6) evened his mark with his third straight win after withstanding shoves to the throat as well as a late pull-down attempt from No. 5 Gonoyama (7-5) in a push-out defeat.
No. 2 Abi, No. 6 Onosho, No. 10 Kinbozan and No. 11s Mitakeumi and Hokuseiho all improved to 8-4.