The biggest stories heading into the 2009 Arnold
February 28, 2009
We count down the most intriguing storylines heading into the 2009 Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio on March 7th. Check them out:
|NO. 8 - ALL IN THE FAMILY
Marcus Haley, known as one of the best posers in the sport for his slick, entertaining routines, is determined to walk away with the Best Presentation Award this year. Of course, if you've ever seen Kai Greene do his 'thang onstage, you know Haley has a challenge on his hands. But Haley has further motivation which he feels will give him the extra edge: Melvin Anthony, the man who beat Greene to win this award last year is his cousin and there's nothing he wants more than to keep it in the family.
|NO. 7 - MOE BETTER?
Ever since Moe El Moussawi placed ahead of Silvio Samuel at the 2008 Ironman Pro (third to Samuel's fourth) the Moe vs. Silvio rivalry blew up big time. Silvio got his revenge by placing ahead of El Moussawi at the '08 Arnold (fifth vs. 11th), '08 Olympia (seventh vs. ninth) and the '09 Ironman Pro (first vs. second). But El Moussawi remains undaunted, stating that he was only at 80% for the Ironman and promises to beat Silvio at the upcoming Arnold. If he can improve his conditioning, he has the size and completeness to step ahead of El Matador and set the stage for even more fireworks later this year.
|NO. 6 - STILL A MENACE
With the Arnold Classic's history of favoring shape and symmetry over pure size, Dennis James' new streamlined look - which won him eighth at the 2008 Olympia - could end up being a menace to the new breed of competitors he will face in Columbus. You have to go all the way back to the year 2002 to see "The Menace" stand on the Arnold Classic stage, where he finished seventh, his lowest placing in three appearances (third in 2001, fourth in 2000). Never one to be muscled off the stage, if James can manage to get dry enough, his new look may serve him well against this lineup.
|NO. 5 - SILVIO RISING
Six, Seven, Five, Seven. Recognize those numbers? They are Samuel's or, more specifically, where Samuel has placed the last four times he has stood among the sport's best. Sixth at the 2007 Arnold, fifth at last year's edition and seventh in each of the last two Olympias. Bit by bit, Samuel keeps getting better. We know this: Samuel will be the most conditioned competitor in Columbus. Despite the size he gives up to the others at the top of the order, that could be enough to vault him into the top three here if one or two slip up.
|NO. 4 - HARD TO KEEP HIM DOWN
Considered one of the hardest of the hardcore, Branch Warren has won over a legion of fans with his never-say-die attitude and blue-collar work ethic. That blood and guts approach has served him well through numerous injuries, the most recent being a torn left triceps tendon that kept him out of last year's Olympia after he placed fourth at the '08 Arnold with what many many consider to be his best physique to date. By all reports, Warren has been training like a beast and is ready to rock the Arnold stage and walk away with more than just the Most Muscular trophy, which he won in 2006 and 2008. Coming in thick and grainy with added detail to his back could see him improve on his '08 performance.
|NO. 3 - WILL KAI BE READY?
Last year, Kai Green placed third here before winning the New York Pro and shutting it down for the remainder of the 2008 season due to a hernia operation. Greene was huge in the offseason, - tipping the scales at over 300 pounds - which prompted some to mention him as a legitimate threat to win in Columbus. But those some forget Greene's less-than-stellar aesthetics and recent accounts that point to Greene - who was reportedly in the 80s four weeks out - being behind in his preparation. If Greene doesn't come in shape, his aesthetic flaws will be even more glaring, and instead of contending for a title he could find himself battling for a spot at the bottom half of the top five.
|NO. 2 - FIGHT FOR NUMBER TWO
Nobody trains to come in second but with Victor Martinez as the overwhelming favorite, it's likely that Toney Freeman and Green - if both men hit their marks - will lock horns in an all-out throw down for second place. Greene holds a 1-0 record over Freeman courtesy of their only meeting onstage at the 2008 Arnold Classic (a much improved Greene in third and a subpar Freeman in seventh), but that was before Freeman regained - and improved upon - the form that saw him take the competitive circuit by storm in early 2007 when he won the Ironman Pro and finished third at the Arnold. Greene may have the edge in thickness, but if Freeman can dial it in, his superior structure and shape may be enough to move him to the near top ... particularly if Storyline Number Three holds up. If that's the case, the only thing standing between the X-Man - who was reportedly weighing in at a conditioned 287 pounds 10 days out - and the biggest achievement of his career is ...
|NO. 1 - A LEG TO POSE ON?
Going into the 2007 Olympia, Victor Martinez was one of the favorites to press defending champ Jay Cutler for top honors. Coming out of the show, a good many bodybuilding fans declared him the uncrowned Mr. O. No question, they believed, the title would be his.
But in January '08, Vic suffered a knee injury that would put him under the knife. He would not compete in either the Arnold or the O that year.
Now, after nearly a year and a half out of competition, Martinez will finally step back on a competitive stage. Were it not for the unfortunate injury, Vic would certainly be the odds-on favorite to take home the title. b But questions remain:
Recent photos have circulated the 'net showing an upper body that's the same old, same old; but, so far, no leg shots. Word is that his legs are up to snuff and that, come AC time, the Dominican Dominator will live up to his nickname.
Our bet is that while his legs might not be 100%, Vic wouldn't be competing if they weren't good enough to put him in contention for victory. Even with a lower body at 90%, Victor Martinez is among the very best bodybuilders in the world.
What do you think? Check out the Victor Martinez poll in the flexonline forums and weigh in on how you think Big Vic will look come March 7 - we want to know.