2008 MR. OLYMPIA ODDS AND ANALYSIS

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2008 Mr. Olympia Breakdown: The Vegas Line

September 15, 2008

by Allan Donnelly

FLEXONLINE.COM

Has it been a year already? Looks like it. It's the end of September and, in our world, we know what that means - it's time for the best bodybuilders in the world to converge on Las Vegas and put it all on the line for the 2008 Mr. Olympia. On September 26 and 27, 19 men will step on stage at the Orleans Arena and attempt to add their name to an elite list of 11 past champions that includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lee Haney, Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman. One of those men, two-time and reigning champ Jay Cutler, already has. In less than two weeks, we'll find out if Cutler will add to his legend, or if another will be made.

Starting today, beginning with the 2008 Olympia Breakdown and Part V of our Jay vs Dex Video Series, we'll begin our biggest and best online Olympia buildup ever - 11 days of pre-contest coverage of the biggest and best weekend bodybuilding has to offer. So buckle your seatbelts - it's gonna be a heck of a ride.

WHAT: 2008 Mr. Olympia
WHERE: The Orleans Arena, Las Vegas NV
WHEN: Friday, September 26 and Saturday, September 27
FOR TICKETS: Go here or call 888.234.2334

FIND OUT ALL THE INFORMATION ABOUT OLYMPIA WEEKEND HERE!

SEE THE 2007 OLYMPIA GALLERIES HERE!!

>> JAY CUTLER

AGE: 34

HEIGHT: 5'9"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 270-275 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2007, 1st

OPENING LINE: 1-3

THE SHORT OF IT: After listening to the naysayers for a year now - those who said Cutler's 2007 Olympia win was undeserved - the man is on a mission. After years of chasing Ronnie Coleman, Cutler is now chasing Coleman's ghost or, more specifically, attempting to do what Coleman did in 2003, after a controversial win the year before: Blow away the competition and, from the moment he sets foot on the Olympia stage, leave no doubt in anyone's mind as to who will walk away with the Sandow. No pressure, Jay.

>>DEXTER JACKSON


AGE: 38

HEIGHT: 5'6"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 235-240 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2007, 3rd

OPENING LINE: 2-1

THE SHORT OF IT: After years of seeing the same Dexter Jackson, The Blade finally took it to the next level this March, adding five pounds of muscle to win the Arnold Classic in his best-ever form. We've seen the guest posing pictures - but nothing else, as the ever-secretive Jackson wouldn't train in anything but a MuscleTech NFL-style jersey for a FLEX photo shoot two weeks ago - and we're convinced: Jackson will be better than ever at the O. Jackson knows this may be his best opportunity for bodybuilding immortality. Aside from Cutler, no one wants it more.

>>PHIL HEATH


AGE: 28

HEIGHT: 5'9"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 235-240 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: Rookie

OPENING LINE: 4-1

THE SHORT OF IT: Is he really an Olympia rookie? Really? After qualifying, and bypassing, the Olympia his first two years in the professional ranks, The Gift readies for his long-awaited debut at the show of shows. Take everything you know about Olympia rookies - paying your dues, happy to be here, et cetera, et cetera - and throw it out the window. We know he'll be shredded, but the $175,000 question is: Will he learn from the past and come in bigger and fuller than he did when winning the Ironman and finishing as the runner-up to Jackson at the Arnold? If he does, he will be hot on Jackson's heels, and Heath's Olympia debut will be one to remember.

>>DENNIS WOLF

AGE: 29

HEIGHT: 5'11"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 260-270 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2007, 5th

OPENING LINE: 4-1

THE SHORT OF IT: He's coming. As one anonymous Olympia competitor has said, Wolf is going to scare some people backstage. Unseen on a competitive bodybuilding stage since he finished fifth at last year's Olympia, Wolf comes to Vegas with a year to grow under his belt, and that alone is a scary thought. One of the biggest competitors on in the contest, Wolf has two show-stopping poses - the best most muscular in the sport today, and one of the best front lat spreads. But two poses will not win an Olympia, so how high Wolf climbs will be determined by how much he has improved his lower half, hamstrings in particular.

>>MELVIN ANTHONY JR.

AGE: 38

HEIGHT: 5'8"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 245-250 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2007, 6th

OPENING LINE: 8-1

THE SHORT OF IT: Gunning for the No. 5 spot, and climbing. Anthony's performance at last weekend's Atlantic City Pro solidified his status as a favorite to crack the top five. If he can stay on course, there's no reason Anthony's conditioning can't improve for the Olympia. If it does, one of the more aesthetic bodybuilders in the pro ranks could push Heath and Wolf and make a run at a top-three placing.

>>SILVIO SAMUEL


AGE: 33

HEIGHT: 5'7"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 220-225 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2007, 7th

OPENING LINE: 10-1

THE SHORT OF IT: We know. It's only been a little over two months since Samuel last competed, when he won the Houston Pro on July 4th. But two months between contests is an eternity for Samuel. We expect him to be razor-sharp, as always, and with some improvement to his back El Matador will make a run at the top five.

>>TONEY FREEMAN

AGE: 42

HEIGHT: 6'2"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 270-280 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2007, 14th

OPENING LINE: 12-1

THE SHORT OF IT: A week ago, no one outside the Big Four had more momentum heading to the Orleans Arena after the X-Man notched a pair of August wins in Tampa and Dallas. Now, after placing fourth in Atlantic City, Freeman once again finds himself on the outside looking in. He'll have to improve on his conditioning and keep the fullness he displayed in Dallas in order to crack the top five here. With two weeks to go, don't bet against him.

>>GUSTAVO BADELL


AGE: 35

HEIGHT: 5'8"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 250-255 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2007, 8th

OPENING LINE: 15-1

THE SHORT OF IT: He has the pedigree - two top-three finishes, in 2004 and 2005 - but Badell has slipped in recent years and has allowed some to steal his thunder when the lights are brightest. We know he'll have the upper-body size and thickness to stand next to anyone, but Badell will have to improve on his conditioning and bring up his legs - a tough combination to improve - from where he was earlier in the year if he wants to make some noise at this party and make the final posedown.

>>JOHNNIE JACKSON


AGE: 37

HEIGHT: 5'8"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 255 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2007, 9th

OPENING LINE: 18-1

THE SHORT OF IT: As he has in each of the past two years, Jackson is peaking at the right time. He ironed out the kinks in the earlier shows, and it took a spot-on Melvin Anthony to prevent Jackson from winning his third straight Atlantic City Pro last weekend. Still, if Jackson can hold or improve his conditioning and maintain the fullness he displayed in New Jersey, another top-10 finish is a virtual lock. The only question will be who he passes to climb even further in the order.

>>DENNIS JAMES


AGE: 37

HEIGHT: 5'8"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 245 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2006, 9th

OPENING LINE: 18-1

THE SHORT OF IT: James successfully turned back the clock earlier this summer, sporting a trimmed-down waistline and conditioned physique to go with his densely-muscled upper body. That helped him finish second to Freeman in both Tampa and Dallas. Here, The Menace will look to extend his streak of consecutive top-10 Olympia finishes to seven and prove he still deserves to be mentioned among the elite.

>>MO ELMOUSSAOUI

AGE: 35

HEIGHT: 5'10"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 235-240 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: Rookie

OPENING LINE: 25-1

THE SHORT OF IT: The early surprise of the season, Elmoussaoui announced his presence as a name to watch by placing fourth when the season kicked at the 2008 Ironman. He slipped a little at the Arnold, but if the New Zealand native can match his conditioning from the Ironman he could sneak up on some people and shake things up in the top 10.

>>DARREM CHARLES

AGE: 40

HEIGHT: 5'9"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 230-235 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2007, 12th

OPENING LINE: 25-1

THE SHORT OF IT: The consummate professional, Charles slipped up in his first three outings of the year, in Houston, Tampa and Dallas. But he rebounded in Atlantic City and regained the form that saw him win eight contests since 2002. The Olympia has never been very kind to Charles - his highest finish was 7th in 2003 - but the man who has competed in the most Olympias since 2002 is out to prove he's still Mr. Consistency.

>>KEVIN ENGLISH


AGE: 34

HEIGHT: 5'4"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 205 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: Rookie

OPENING LINE: 30-1

THE SHORT OF IT: English's lone outing in 2008 was a successful one. In one weekend, he won both the 202-pound class and finished as the runner-up to Kai Greene at the New York Pro. English outclassed Olympia qualifiers David Henry and Craig Richardson in that show, and that should give him the inside track here if he can match what he brought to New York in May. A top-10 finish is asking a lot, but it's almost a no-brainer that we'll see English in the top 15.

>>DAVID HENRY


AGE: 33

HEIGHT: 5'5"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 200 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2007, 10th

OPENING LINE: 35-1

THE SHORT OF IT: The Giant Killer lived up to his name last year, when he notched a career-best 10th-place finish. This year, Henry's status as the best of the smaller bodybuilders has been put to the test, most recently at the New York Pro in May, when he lost the inaugural 202-pound class to English. Henry wasn't at his best there, but he came closer to it when he won the 202-pound class in Tampa and placed third behind Freeman and James in the open class. He'll have to be at his best-ever if he hopes to land inside the top 10 for the second straight year.

>>RONNY ROCKEL

AGE: 36

HEIGHT: 5'6"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 225-230 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2007, 11th

OPENING LINE: 40-1

THE SHORT OF IT: The German import can look like a world-beater at times from the front, but something always seems to be missing - specifically conditioning - when Rockel turns around. He carries a lot of muscle on his frame, but Rockel will have to be much sharper in the back shots, and in the hamstrings in particular, if he hopes to improve on last year's 11th-place finish.

>>CRAIG RICHARDSON


AGE: 34

HEIGHT: 5'7

CONTEST WEIGHT: 220 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2005, DNP

OPENING LINE: 45-1

THE SHORT OF IT: Richardson continued his recent climb up the ranks with a solid at the New York Pro in May, finishing fifth. But he took a step back this past weekend in Atlantic City, and for the first time in recent memory lacked the sharpness he typically displays. Richardson's Achilles heel has always been back shots, and it's unlikely that will change here. With that in mind, he'll have to return to form condition-wise in order to fulfill his potential and place in the top 15.

>>LEO INGRAM


AGE: 39

HEIGHT: 5'9"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 253 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: Rookie

OPENING LINE: 75-1

THE SHORT OF IT: The good news: Ingram, a third-year pro, qualified for the Olympia by placing third in Houston in July. He carries a lot of muscle, and finally nailed his conditioning in Houston to put it all on display. The bad news: At 39 yeas old, he's an Olympia rookie. Traditionally, the O has never been kind to first-timers, so placing in the top 15 would qualify as a successful outing.

>>FOUAD ABIAD


AGE: 29

HEIGHT: 5'10"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 245 pounds

LAST O-PPEARANCE: Rookie

OPENING LINE: 75-1

THE SHORT OF IT: Another first-timer, the second-year pro has steadily improved since competing in his first professional contest almost exactly a year ago. The 29-year-old packs on an impressive amount of quality muscle at his age, and his battles with James and Freeman in Tampa and Dallas have helped him mature. But the Olympia is an entirely new ballgame, and Abiad is another who should consider a top-15 placing - something not even Wolf was unable to do as a first-timer - a successful one.

>>SERGEY SHELESTOV


AGE: 37

HEIGHT: 5'11"

CONTEST WEIGHT: 260-265 pound

LAST O-PPEARANCE: 2007, DNP

OPENING LINE: 75-1

THE SHORT OF IT: Conditioning, conditioning, conditioning. Shelestov qualified by placing fourth at the New Zealand Pro. The Russian is another who packs on a serious amount of muscle, and displays some of the thickest and impressive hamstrings in the pro ranks. If he can show up in condition, Shelestov is a potential top-10 guy. If he doesn't, he'll once again find himself a spectator during the posing routines at the Saturday night finals.

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