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The 2010 Mr. Olympia is almost here and I feel that this is a good chance to go over the contenders and discuss this contest with a preview of what is to come. I will list the bodybuilders in order of their placings at the 2009 Mr. Olympia and include comments about their past performances, strengths and weaknesses as professional bodybuilders, and my prediction as to where I see them placing at the big show this year.
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2009 Mr. Olympia - RESULTS!
WINNER: JAY CUTLER *
2. Branch Warren *
3: Dexter Jackson *
4. Kai Greene *
5. Phil Heath *
6. Victor Martinez
7. Ronny Rockel
8. Toney Freeman
9. Hidetada Yamagishi 山岸秀匡 *
10. Moe El Moussawi
11. Melvin Anthony
11. Silvio Samuel Saviour
13. Gustavo Badell
14. Dennis James
15. Markus Ruhl
- Troy Alves
- Darrem Charles
- Ahmad Haidar
- Michalis Kefalianos Μιχάλης Κεφαλιανός
- Martin Kjellstrom
- Joel Stubbs
- Bill Wilmore
- Dennis Wolf
WINNER: Jose Raymond *
2. David Henry *
3. Luc Molines
4. Tim Martin
5. Wendell Floyd
6. Gaetano Cisternino
7. Frederic Sauvage
8. Jeff "Box" Long
9. Abiu Feliz
10. Anthony Finocchiaro
11. Emro Karadjuzovic
*Note: Top six in each weight class qualified for the 2010 Mr. Olympia contest.
Now I will make detailed comments below for each bodybuilder:
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1st: Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler surprised a lot of people last year by reclaiming his title as Mr. Olympia champion. I attended the 2007 Mr. Olympia contest and Jay was considerably off yet still managed to win the contest which I felt was not a fair decision, especially given his stiff competition which included Victor Martinez, Dexter Jackson, and Dennis Wolf. In 2008, I felt that Jay had improved but was still not at the high level that he had displayed in other contests such as his original Mr. Olympia win in 2006. Then last year Jay stepped up to the table with a package of size and conditioning that I had never seen before. I felt that it was his best performance ever although some others would say that his 2001 Mr. Olympia runner up showing was his best. Even if it was not his best performance ever it was certainly his best performance in recent memory with only the 2006 Mr. Olympia being comparable for Jay. I felt that Jay was in a position to retire on top if that is what he wanted to do but he has decided to come back and compete again. Although Jay has been around in the bodybuilding scene for what seems to be forever - with his first contest in the NPC scene being the 1993 Teen Nationals where he won his weight class but lost the overall to Branch Warren - the fact of the matter is that Jay is still relatively young [or at the very least, not old] from a bodybuilding vantage point. Jay only turned 37 last month [August of 2010] and it is true that a lot of bodybuilders peak in their late thirties, some would include Ronnie Coleman in this category who dominated the competition at the 2003 Mr. Olympia contest at 287 pounds at the age of 39 and the next year at age 40 went on to look bigger than ever at over 300 pounds at the Grand Prix in England. I see no reason why Jay cannot maintain his previously best conditioning that he displayed at the 2009 Mr. Olympia although it may be difficult for him to improve on that because that in itself was a massive improvement over his 2008 form.
My thoughts are that all that Jay has to do to win the 2010 Mr. Olympia contest is to replicate his form from 2009. No improvements are necessary. He simply has to duplicate the size and conditioning he brought to the table last year with the assistance of coach Hany Rambod and he will win again. I felt that it would have taken a minimum of one year and as long as three years for his nearest competition to catch up in terms of size in order to defeat Jay. I think that the absolute best case scenario is that his nearest competition has done that and will be able to win. Even if this is the case, most Mr. Olympia winners can only lose by truly being knocked out. If it is close, historical judging precedent tells us that the incumbent Mr. Olympia will win again. In this case, there is one possible way that I can see Jay not winning and that is if he comes in off. As great as Jay is, if he shows up again in his 2007 Mr. Olympia form [where I did not feel he deserved to beat Victor Martinez] then there is the very real possibility that Jay does not win. So the combination of Jay showing up off and his nearest competition [Kai Greene and Phil Heath] coming in in the best shape they have shown thus far would make it possible for Jay to not win this contest. That said, if Jay comes into this contest in top shape, I believe he will win and I do not think that any of the other guys will have made enough in the way of improvements to prevent this from happening.
2nd: Branch Warren
Branch Warren is an excellent bodybuilder and at this point in time, based on rankings, a legitimate top three bodybuilder worldwide. However, this is in part due to the fact that last year, both Kai Greene and Phil Heath came in off. With Dexter Jackson over 40 at this point, I think it is quite possible that Branch's ranking ahead of Dexter is here to stay, however I am less likely to state that I think he is legitimately ahead of Kai Greene and Phil Heath assuming that all three show up in shape. Thus far, Branch has not beaten Jay Cutler, so Jay is legitimately ahead of Branch. I would say that based on that reasoning, that puts Branch at top four in the world, assuming that all four bodybuilders show up in their best ever shape and that no one else surprises us which is quite possible. I think that Branch is a fantastic bodybuilder who trains very hard, so much so that I am surprised that he has not obtained any injuries as a result of doing so.
Making predictions can be difficult, so I try to base my predictions on the scenario that everyone shows up in their best ever shape at the time of the contest, assuming I think such a thing is possible. For example, I am unsure as to whether or not Dennis Wolf can replicate his 2007 form due to injuries that he has sustained [hernia surgery] and I am unsure as to whether or not Dexter Jackson can replicate his best ever form due to his age [he is now over 40 and has been competing consistently for years]. More on both of those two bodybuilders below. As for Branch Warren, while he trains in a brutal fashion and seems to have sustained an injury to his right lat, I still think he has what it takes to place fourth at this contest assuming that every bodybuilder shows up in their best ever shape. If one or more of the top three [Jay Cutler, Kai Greene/Phil Heath] does not show up in their best ever shape, Branch has the chance of climbing up the ranks again. Branch could even win the whole show if all three of the aforementioned bodybuilders were off and Branch shows up in his best ever form and additionally assuming no further surprises. Of course these are a lot of "what ifs" so I do not expect those things to necessarily happen, but I do think Branch will fall in the top 4-6 basically no matter what, unless he comes in very off or unless his lat injury [or what appears to be one at least] is worse than I initially predicted. Branch was seen in some guest posings and pictures recently and was looking to be absolutely dry and shredded. He is working with George Farah on his conditioning and it is possible that he has peaked to early, or it is possible that what we saw is a glimpse of what we will see by the day of the contest and if so, Branch is very likely to rank extremely well at this show and maintain his status as one of the best bodybuilders in the world. Some may not like Branch's physique due to the sheer volume of mass that he holds, but this is still bodybuilding and Branch is without question of the best and freakiest bodybuilders out there right now and is for the most part, consistent at bringing great conditioning to the table. At 35 years old, and assuming he is free from injury, Branch likely still has some more time left.
3rd: Dexter Jackson
Dexter Jackson has been one of the best bodybuilders in the world for a very long time now. At 41 years old, it is only a matter of time before he slows down. Very few bodybuilders can maintain their best ever condition and size as they age and especially with many years of competing behind them. I think that Dexter is a bodybuilder who is absolutely still one of the best bodybuilders in the world at 40+, but to maintain what he brought to the stage in the past for so long is simply something bordering on impossible. I do not mean to rule Dexter out, but every physical activity has a window and I don't think bodybuilding is an exception. Typically, Dexter Jackson would beat Branch Warren even with both showing up at their best ever. Branch brought his best to the stage in 2009 but Dexter did not. If Dexter was off I would say that he would be able to improve and once again surpass Branch, but I am concerned that age played a factor in Dexter's conditioning not being as good as it normally is. If this is the case, then I will go on record to state that Branch in his best conditioning [assuming he brings it] will beat Dexter. If on the other hand, Dexter was simply off [which is VERY rare for him], then I think it is possible he can beat Branch if he comes back in with his best form. He is working with Charles Glass this year to bring a high level of both size and conditioning to the 2010 Mr. Olympia contest and if this works out for him, he may be able to improve on his third place finish last year, possibly even winning it. Assuming that everyone shows up at their best and that age truly did have an effect on Dexter's physique, I would place him as low as fifth. Thus somewhere in the top five is where I predict Dexter will land depending on which of the above factors come into play. I have not seen any "weeks out" photos of Dexter so it is impossible for me to know for sure, so I can only base this prediction on the other information available to me. Top five is of course guaranteed unless Dexter shows up basically missing an arm or a leg, and I still think Dexter can win it if some of his closest competition is off.
4th: Kai Greene
Kai Greene is absolutely one of the best bodybuilders in the world at this point in time. With four pro wins so far that is impossible to refute. Really all it comes down to is whether or not Kai brings conditioning to the show as he definitely has the thickness to compete and place near the top. I felt that Phil Heath deserved to win the 2010 Arnold because Phil's conditioning was amazing, and in general, I would say that Phil is better than Kai. But what can't be denied by people no matter which of the two they prefer, is that both bodybuilders are very close. I just felt that Phil's conditioning was better at the 2010 Arnold and that it should have been enough to have him win the show where Kai looked very good as well, but was not as ripped as Phil.
I think the reason why Kai beat Phil was because Kai was bigger from the back and I think it is safe to say that if we look back in the history of bodybuilding, contests are certainly won or lost from the back. For example, Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, and Ronnie Coleman all had one thing in common, which is that they had the best backs on the stage. While there may have been some debate as to whether they looked the best from the front, there was absolutely no debate that I have ever heard that they did not look the best from the back. Even going back further in the history of bodybuilding we can see that Samir Bannout beat Bertil Fox as well as others at the 1983 Mr. Olympia contest and most definitely had the best back at that contest as well. In the case of Kai Greene, he definitely has a better back than Phil Heath, at least measured in terms of thickness and width. I would argue that Phil's back was more shredded and that this was apparent in the rear double biceps pose but that in the rear lat spread pose, Kai definitely won due to his deep thickness and width. Because contests are very often won based on the strength of the back, I think that is why Kai won the 2010 Arnold, at least in the minds of the judges, and that this characteristic may very well see him beating Phil Heath again this year as I do not see it being very likely that Phil's back thickness has caught up to Kai's back thickness at this point in time. However, if Kai shows up a little off and Phil repeats his 2010 Arnold conditioning, Phil will place ahead of Kai and also Branch Warren and Dexter Jackson in my opinion. If such a scenario arises I do not see anyone beating Phil except for Jay Cutler, and even then, only if he brings his best conditioning possible. If Phil is off again as he was at least year's prejudging as a result of getting food poisoning, it is quite possible that he will place as "low" as fifth again this year. This is another time where I think it is likely that Phil will end up in the top five somewhere and if I had to narrow that down a little further I would say top 2-4 depending on how good everyone else looks. I would say that based on the past decisions of the judging that Phil would place third to Jay Cutler and Kai Greene assuming that all three show up in great shape. I think that Phil at his best does beat Branch Warren at his best and that Dexter Jackson used to be able to beat Phil Heath with both at their best but lately I am not too sure as Dexter is getting older as I mentioned above and therefore I have a more difficult time predicting how he will place depending on whether or not that is a factor affecting his placings.
5th: Phil Heath
No matter what way you cut it, Phil Heath is a legitimate top five bodybuilder in the world. Meaning that under basically any scenario, he will place in the top five. I see no exception to this as even if Phil shows up a bit off, he is still most likely to place in the top five and possibly much higher than that. Phil should have in his mind that top five is basically a guarantee and if he wants to set a goal for himself, it should be to see exactly how far up that top five ladder he can make it.
I see Phil's two biggest threats as Jay Cutler and Kai Greene. Jay has Phil on size at the moment and I think he will for a while yet because it takes years to develop the level of mass that Jay has and I don't see Phil acquiring that level of size for at least 1-3+ years and even then I am not sure if Phil's frame will be able to handle the level of mass that Jay has as Jay has a naturally wider frame and is thus able to carry more mass. As for Kai, he is also bigger than Phil and I think that the same thing applies about Kai that I just said of Jay, in relation to Heath, i.e., it will take some catching up to do for Phil to match Kai on size at least in terms of size from the back which tends to be more important in bodybuilding competitions. I think that if Phil brings great conditioning to the table and if both Jay Cutler and Kai Greene show up off that Kai can win the whole show. If on the other hand, Jay and Kai both show up in great shape, I think the best placing Phil will get is third. This of course depending on the types of improvements Phil has made in the past year, and one thing about Phil that I have come to expect is that he continues to improve and impress!
At worst, I would give Phil Heath fifth place again and only if he shows up off, where a better-conditioned Branch Warren and Dexter Jackson would be able to edge him out. It was said that Phil Heath had food poisoning last year and that is the type of thing that you can't predict. One thing to note about Phil is that he seems to improve more than virtually any other pro bodybuilder. I honestly believe that from the day he turned pro in 2005 up until his performance at the 2010 Mr. Olympia contest, Phil had improved every step of the way, despite coming in off at some shows. If Phil has improved yet again since the 2010 Arnold, it is quite possible that he can push Jay and Kai further than anyone would expect him to. With that said, I don't think that Phil is some sort of miracle worker, and as I said building muscle tissue does take years, so I think landing somewhere in the top 3-5 is realistic for Phil. However, if I was the judge I would extend this to somewhere in the top 2-5. Although I do acknowledge that Phil's back is not at the level of Kai's in terms of thickness, I still think that Phil is the better overall bodybuilder when Phil shows up in his best ever shape, and it's pretty hard to deny that he did exactly that in 2010 at the Arnold. Phil is newly signed with MuscleTech and is also the youngest top contender in the show. I predict very good things for Phil and if he did win the entire contest, it would not surprise me. Of course, anyone can come in off at the show and if both Jay and Kai do, I think the show belongs to Phil. Realistically, I think my review above is accurate but again, anything could happen on the day of the contest.
6th: Victor Martinez
Victor Martinez is sort of a dark horse at this contest and it is difficult for me to predict where he will place. If he came into this contest as he looked in 2007 I would really wonder if he could upset everyone [and everything that I have said above] and win the whole show. I think that Victor has the size and the structure to be a Mr. Olympia champion and if he can bring in his size with great conditioning as we have seen of him in the past, then he can do very well. I think it really comes down to conditioning, and if Victor shows up as shredded as he can get, he will place very well and the sky is truly the limit for him in such a case. If on the other hand, he does not bring great conditioning to the table, I think that he will probably round out the top 6-8. Last year he had a lot of personal issues to deal with including the tragic death of his sister, and I can only hope that this year he does not have the same types of challenges facing him in addition to the normal challenges of preparing for bodybuilding competition. Victor does have the potential to be Mr. Olympia, but he would have to bring his best form into the contest in order for that to happen. Victor is difficult for me to place exactly, but I think he will be no less than 8th place under any possible circumstance, even if he comes in very off. If the opposite scenario takes place and he is at his best, he can quite possible win the whole show.
7th: Ronny Rockel
Ronny placed 7th at the Olympia last year. Since 1990 only two other bodybuilders under 5'6 have placed better [Lee Priest and Mohammed Benaziza]. He went on to place 6th at the 2010 Arnold Classic although I think most would agree that placing 7th at the Mr. Olympia is more impressive than placing 6th at the Arnold. Ronny is not as tall as those who placed ahead of him and that is why it will be difficult for him to improve his placing very much. Although I think he can possibly increase a placement or two at some point in the future depending on how his competition comes in. The reality is, as big and as dry as Ronny is, he is up against bodybuilders who are also big and dry but outweigh him by upwards of 40 pounds or more due to height. As a result, they will definitely give him a run for his money and likely relegate him outside of the top six. Based on the "weeks out" photos that have been circulating the internet which I have seen, I would place him in the top 8 this year and a 7th place finish is certainly a possibility. I do not see it as very likely that he improves on that performance this year, mainly due to the fact that it is a pretty tough lineup and even if the six bodybuilders listed above came in off, it is still likely in my mind that Rockel would place 7th and even then, only if he comes into the show in top form. But this is not to be negative about Rockel - Being the 7th best bodybuilder in the world is truly an incredible accomplishment, and to beat many competitors who are taller than him is also something which demonstrates the level that Rockel is at.
8th: Toney Freeman
Toney Freeman is the tallest bodybuilder who is competing this year. At 6'2 he has both size and height. He is also 44 years old making him the oldest competitor of the lineup! He placed 8th last year but was around 12 pounds heavier than he was in 2008 where he placed 5th. As soon as Toney said he was heavier in a 2009 interview than he was in 2008, I did not think he would place as well. The way I see it, any bodybuilder who is at the Mr. Olympia level does not need to add any more muscle to their frame. All that really matters is that they bring in the muscle that they have in great condition and they will place as well as their genetics allow. My prediction came true and Toney dropped to 8th place. Toney seems to be able to compete a lot yet still consistently brings a great physique to the stage. One example to the contrary that I can think of would be the 2007 Mr. Olympia contest where he placed 14th. Toney has already competed three times in 2010 placing no less than 5th and that was at the 2010 Arnold Classic which is the most competitive bodybuilding competition in the world after the Mr. Olympia. I have to say that this year's lineup is very difficult and I imagine Toney will place between 6-8 depending on how Victor Martinez and Ronny Rockel do. I think it will be very difficult for Toney to break that top five again, but it is possible, but realistically, I do not see him placing higher than top 6, although no lower than top 10 [unless he is off] and most likely somewhere between places 6-8. He is an amazing bodybuilder who at the age of 44 does not seem to be slowing down at all.
9th: Hidetada Yamagishi 山岸秀匡 *
Hidetada Yamagishi is a very good bodybuilder and will most likely round out the top 10 somewhere. I would normally predict that Hidetada would place between 7-10 somewhere. It is difficult to judge, but I try to make predictions based on the information that I have available to me. However, he did place 7th at the 2010 Tampa Bay Pro. This leads me to believe that he is more likely to place around 9-13 at this contest. It really depends on what Hide is going through right now and whether or not he is facing a setback such as an injury. I am not completely sure of what challenges he is facing so I cannot say whether or not he will be at his best. I saw his "weeks out" pictures from three weeks pre-contest and I do not think he is quite up to the level that he had been in the past. As a result I would be more inclined to believe that he will place just around the top 10, either just making it in, or just barely out. If he shows up at his best, he stands to place as high as 7th, but I do not see him placing higher than 7th at this point in time.
Overall, I felt that this contest was a nice insight into the quality of some of the competitors who will be at the 2010 Mr. Olympia contest this year in Las Vegas. I did not feel that it was as fairly judged as the Tampa Bay Pro last week but I did basically agree with the top three which is the main thing because those are the most important placings as they determine who will qualify for the Olympia from this contest. Although some would argue the top three was not correct, I do not see the three being particularly controversial. Other placings of some bodybuilders I did not agree with but the lower the placing, the less important judging is as less is riding on lower placings than on higher ones. Although I would like to see fair judging as often as possible, bodybuilding is a subjective matter and so it would be impossible to please everyone and opinions will vary. I felt that the 202 class was even more incorrectly judged than the open class and there are certainly some changes which I would have made had I been the judge, the most concerning to me being the low placing awarded to Frederic Sauvage. I do think that the top three was a little better judged, with at least the top two [Jose Raymond and David Henry] deserving to be in the top three. Only the third placing is one where I would debate somewhat and this is relevant because only the top three placings get a qualification to the Mr. Olympia so if a bodybuilder does not make the top three who feels that he deserved to, I can see why that would make him upset. In any case, I look forward to seeing the bodybuilders at this contest in Las Vegas and hopefully I will be able to interview a number of them to talk about the world of bodybuilding and their future plans.
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