ARNOLD CLASSIC RECAP

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March 5th, 2007

Who hit the mark and who missed it at last weekend’s Arnold Classic

FLEXONLINE.COM

It's been four days since all the placings were passed out at the Arnold Classic, and the dust has finally settled on all the happenings from ASC Weekend. Today, we review some of the participants who hit the mark and some who missed the mark, along with some of the more memorable quotes from one of the biggest weekends in bodybuilding.

If you weren't able to make it, don't worry - hundreds of expo pics and expo video starring Dennis James are on the way tomorrow.

HIT THE MARK

DEXTER JACKSON
Simply put, the best Dexter Jackson we've ever seen. With a new generation -- led by Phil Heath and Dennis Wolf -- nipping at his heels, the 39-year-old Jackson knew he couldn't stand pat. The major complaint against Jackson coming in to this show was the fact that, in recent years, it was the same version of Dexter Jackson every time he set foot on stage. Enter the 2008 version of Dexter Jackson. Jackson was reportedly five to seven pounds bigger (we'll say closer to four or five), and it showed -- but not in his conditioning, which was better than we've seen it in his last few outings. Had Victor Martinez been healthy, it's debatable whether even he would have been able to stop the Jackson express from winning his third Arnold Classic.

KAI GREENE
Questions surrounded the enigma that is Kai Greene entering this show. Greene hadn't competed since bursting on the scene in the spring of 2007, a season which he capped off by winning the 2007 Colorado Pro. Greene was reportedly coming in to the Arnold 20 pounds heavier, a report that opened a lot of eyes but also brought a host of critics claiming his condition would suffer. And while he wasn't as sharp as he was in Colorado, he was bigger, and that combination vaulted him into third ahead of established veterans like Melvin Anthony, Gustavo Badell and Toney Freeman. Competing on the biggest stage of his career, Greene rose to the occasion, and displayed none of the pre-show jitters that can affect a first-timer's performance at the Arnold.

BRANCH WARREN
Thick, shredded and as serious as a heart attack, Branch returned to the form that saw him place second at the Arnold Classic in 2005. After a series of sub-par finishes -- not withstanding his controversial win at the 2007 New York Pro -- Warren took the rest of the year off, skipping last year's Olympia, The time off served him well, as Warren made a case for the top five as soon as he stepped onstage and drove the crowd into a frenzy. Leading up to this contest, Warren had been written off by critics -- the writer of this piece included. But Warren forced all of those critics to eat their words, as The People's Champ cemented himself as a legitimate threat to crack the top five at this year's Olympia.

YAXENI ORIQUEN
Welcome to the Elite Columbus Club, Yaxeni. Population: 3. Oriquen became only the third competitor - joining Flex Wheeler and four-time Ms. Figure International champ Susie Curry - in the 20-year history of the Arnold Classic to win four titles by winning her fourth Ms. International crown (2002-2003, 2005, 2008).

GINA ALIOTTI
At the tender age of 23, Aliotti vaulted herself into the upper echelon of the sport by winning her first Figure International. The win was the fourth of Aliotti's young career, and her second in her last three outings Aliotti possesses a complete physique in a sport where a number of competitors tend to lack in one area or another -- specifically in terms of a lack of quad and hamstring development -- and her potent combination of aesthetics, muscularity and beauty likely will make her the standard for pro figure competitions in the very near future.

JENNIFER GATES
Runner-up at a contest the caliber of the Figure International is always an impressive outing -- even more so when you consider the competitor who earns that distinction has been a professional for less than a year. Gates, who won the 2007 NPC Junior Nationals last June, has already won one pro show -- the Motor City Pro -- and placed in the top five (fourth) at the Olympia. Along with Aliotti, she is leading the charge for the new wave of figure competitors.

KIM KLEIN
The Fitness International is fast becoming Klein's personal playground. Klein won her second consecutive crown, and now all that separates Klein from becoming the standard in fitness is unseating reigning champ Adela Garcia from the Olympia throne. Klein finished second to Garcia a year ago, and is now setting her sights on the Orleans Arena on September 26.

IFBB JUDGES
It's like the job of an NFL referee -- nobody notices when they do a good job, but they are the first ones to get blamed when something goes wrong. Here, the judges set a remarkable precedent by penalizing reigning Ms. International champ Iris Kyle because of a series of abscesses on Kyle's body. Kyle, the winner of the three of the past four Olympias and three of the last four Ms. Internationals, was dropped to seventh in the order, the first time she has placed out of the top five since the 1999 Ms. International. Message received.

MISSED THE MARK


MELVIN ANTHONY
Anthony entered the Arnold as a legitimate threat to take home the $130,000 first-place check. As promised, Anthony took the stage 10 pounds bigger than he was at the 2007 Olympia, where he placed sixth, at 245 pounds. He missed the mark conditioning-wise though, and Anthony was forced to watch the first four callouts and his hopes for an ASC win vanish before his eyes.

TONEY FREEMAN
Where have you gone X-Man? Freeman's seventh-place finish in a field this competitive would hardly be a letdown for almost any other competitor, but it was for him. Freeman placed third at this contest a year ago, part of his torrid start to the 2007 season that saw him notch two wins and establish himself as one of the top five bodybuilders in the world. After that, though, the Freeman freefall began with a 13th place finish at the Olympia and continued with an eighth-place finish at the Ironman two weeks ago, a contest he won in 2007. Freeman was better at the Arnold -- tighter and fuller than he was two weeks ago -- but he still lacked the conditioning necessary to crack the top six. Freeman has gone on record in saying that he gets better with every show, and that was the case at the Arnold last weekend. If he continues to improve -- and if he makes good on his promise to compete in every show, save one, in 2008 -- we could see the X mark the spot once again.

DESHAUN GRIMES, ADORTHUS CHERRY
We know, they're rookies. And we know, it was likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these first-year pros, and they were happy to just share the stage with the best of the best. But both showed up in horrendous condition, something that should never happen at a show like the Arnold Classic. Simply put, both did a disservice to the fans and to fellow competitors who were excluded from earning an invite to the competition by showing up in the condition they did.

IRIS KYLE
See above. Something that simply can not be tolerated from a competitor who's competitive history makes her - whether she realizes it or not - an ambassador for the sport.

THEY SAID IT
Memorable quotes from Arnold Classic Weekend

“Sorry Peter, I'm still working on the editorial. I brought it with me in the briefcase. I'm definitely going to get it to you this weekend.” -- California Governor and FLEX columnist Arnold Schwarzenegger to FLEX Group Editorial Direction Peter McGough backstage at the Arnold Classic, concerning the tardiness of Schwarzenegger's latest column

"Her shoulders and her glutes just weren’t right." – IFBB Judge Steve Weinberger on Iris Kyle, who fell to seventh in the final placings

“This is the best I’ve seen him. He had size, muscle separation and great stage presence. What can you say about his symmetry? Just flawless.” – IFBB Judge John Tuman on Dexter Jackson

“I had Branch over Kai. I thought Branch made a lot of improvement in his body, his skin conditioning was much better, his color was probably the best I’ve seen it. But that’s why we have 11 judges up there making that call.” – IFBB Judge Lee Thompson on the 3rd and 4th place finishers

“I don’t think there was a problem I just think that this is the best that Dexter has ever been. He is beatable, but not tonight.” – Phil Heath on why he finished second at the Arnold Classic

“Next year, as much muscle as he put on from last year’s Arnold to this year’s Arnold, if he puts on the same amount of muscle mass with the same conditioning, then Dexter better worry.” – Tuman on Phil Heath

"Melvin might be mentally beat here. He's pissed." - Chris Cormier on Melvin Anthony after Anthony wasn't called out until the fifth callout of the prejudging

“Two man show? It’s never a two-man show.” – Melvin Anthony backstage at the prejudging, when asked if the Arnold Classic was shaping up to be a two-man battle between Dexter Jackson and Phil Heath

“We got MuscleTech supplements now.” – Arnold Classic champion Dexter Jackson, after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed surprise at Jackson claiming he only trained for one hour a day

“I didn’t really get to my peak time till got to about 40, 41. I maybe fell off a little bit when I was 43, maybe.” – Ronnie Coleman, when asked if being 40 years old meant Toney Freeman’s best days are behind him

"He just has to put that size back on and continue on that path. Last time I saw him he was smaller and softer, so he looks like he is bouncing back.” - Weinberger on Toney Freeman

“Thank you so much, Mr. Lorimer. I’ve always wanted to enter your show.” –Kai Greene to FLEX Group Editorial Director Peter McGough, after McGough congratulated Greene on his third-place finish

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