The story of the day isn't about who will compete in the 2013 Arnold Classic, rather it's who is NOT competing in it. We won't see reigning Mr Olympia Phil Heath, former Mr Olympia Jay Cutler, Kai Greene, Branch Warren, Evan Centopani, Victor Martinez or Shawn Rhoden on stage this March.
Both Phil Heath and Jay Cutler are going to go 'mano a mano' with Kai Greene at the 2013 Mr Olympia. They have their game faces on and their game plans all laid out. So we can safely cross these gentlemen off the 2013 Arnold Classic list.
Branch Warren, who sustained a quad injury in 2011, came back with true grit and determination to win the 2012 Arnold Classic, beating out Dennis Wolf and Evan Centopani. However, Warren barely made the top 5 at the 2012 Olympia. Warren just recently announced he is opting out of the 2013 Arnold Classic. In my opinion, it's a good decision. Branch Warren needs to take off a long hiatus from the gym, rest and come back to the Olympia. Even then, I see him only placing 6th or 5th.
Evan Centopani recently announced he's not competing in the 2013 Arnold Classic. He placed 3rd at the 2012 Arnold but only placed 8th at the 2012 Mr Olympia. Evan lost his edge between the Arnold and the Olympia. In this video clip, he explains what he plans to do in order to get that edge back and part of the plan is not to compete in the Arnold.
One of my favorites, Victor Martinez, will be competing on his old stomping grounds at the 2013 New York Pro. It will be his first competition in a few years. He's been gaining size and strength over the past 6 months. In my personal conversation with him, Martinez has worked out the bugs and the demons and anticipates being in the mix, once qualified, for the 2013 Mr Olympia.
Flex Athlete and friend Shawn Rhoden just announced he will not be competing in the 2013 Arnold Classic in this announcement article. Rhoden competed eight times in 2012, to include having taken 6 weeks off for a hernia surgery. Rhoden placed 3rd at the 2012 Mr Olympia with a sharp and chiseled physique. However, he also knows the big boys were off last year. So if he wants to stay in the mix, Rhoden needs to add some size between now and the 2013 Mr Olympia.
So who's left? Dennis Wolf, Ben Pakulski, Dexter Jackson, Lionel Beyeke, Brandon Curry, Fouad Abiad, Michael Kefalianos, Ben White, Toney Freeman, Ben White, Roelly Winklaar, Hidetada Yamagishi, Johnnie Jackson, Essa Obiad and Fred Smalls are just a few names off the top of my head.
It could be Dexter Jackson's to have. He's outgunned everyone on this list at one time or another. But having just competed in the Masters Olympia, there's only a few weeks of rest before getting back on the wagon. With that said, I don't think Dexter can take it if Pakulski, Fouad, Freeman or Beyeke come in big and sharp.
My prediction? Ben Pakulski will be your new 2013 Arnold Classic Champion.
What are your thoughts?