Arnold Classic rundown
Some of the many things that Columbus, Ohio is known for. However for all us meatheads and meatheadettes, we know it for one thing.
The Arnold Classic weekend.
The 2012 Arnold Classic is very interesting this year. One reason is for that is defending champion from the Arnold Classic 2011 champion Branch Warren suffered an injury before last years Mr.Olympia contest. The quadricep injury took him out of competition for the Olympia, but he is coming back to defend his title.
Another reason for an interesting Arnold is the IFBB qualifications for the Olympia has changed. If you remember in years prior, the top five qualified for the show. This year that is not the case as only the top three qualify at an already tough show. This should bring out the best in everyone who steps onstage this year.
With that being said, lets look at the list of competitors.
Fouad Abiad: After competing at last weekends Flex Pro and showing improvements, he managed a solid third place. Although I feel he was the winner based on what he brought to the table, he is not without flaw. Although he has improved his arms, they are still lagging a bit and his shape is not the most pleasing to the eye. The strengths that he has is his ability to come in great condition. He is not afraid to work to get a top placing. His back has great muscularity with a visible "Christmas Tree" also with a great side triceps pose. I look forward to seeing what he brings to the stage.
Gustavo Badell: "The Freakin Rican" makes his comeback. Gustavo is no stranger to this stage and has done very well on this stage netting a third place in 2005. We havent seen much f him due to family obligations and quite frankly, I dont feel very comfortable giving him an assessment and he hasn't been seen in awhile in contest shape. So I'm going to pass on Gustavo and wish him good luck in his comeback.
Lionel Beyeke: Lionel is impressive. His shape is great and has made improvements since last years New York Pro culminating in what is so far his only pro victory at the 2012 Flex Pro. There is really no weak body part on Lionel either so that makes him a much bigger threat. What I want to see from Lionel is improved and really sick conditioning in Columbus. I do think he is pacing himself (as many others are doing) for this show. If he comes in crazy condition and still stays full, he will be very, very dangerous.
Matthias Botthof: Last years Arnold amateur winner is coming to the pro stage. Bottom line, he is not ready. A smaller show would've done him much better to compete at a smaller show instead of coming into a den of lions. He has a boatload of potential and pleasing shape, so he has strengths. It will just take time to get them to come to fruition.
Eduardo Correa: The supposed screwjob of the Flex Pro was Eduardo's placing. His placing is not indicative of what was displayed onstage by him last week, as the general sentiment online was that he was the winner. For a small guy, he packs a lot of dense, and shredded muscle. He easily had the best condition of the show last week and I'm still scratching my head over 5th for him. However, he knows what he needs to do and he will be in the mix for the top 5 spot.
Brandon Curry: I'm impressed with this guy. He is a prettier version of Lionel Beyeke in my eyes. The man known as "The Podigy" and "Soul Brother #1" has a classic physique, but has been marred with subpar conditioning and lagging legs. However with some work he did in 2011 with the help of Neil "Yoda" Hill he gained an 8th place finish at the 2011 Mr. Olympia. I would like to see Brandon shredded with the improvements he's made in size. His legs are a work in progress, but I feel he has the structure to throw a monkey wrench in peoples plans at the show.
Dexter Jackson: Current Masters Pro World champion, Mr.Olympia and former Arnold Classic champ is coming to Columbus seeking his 4th Arnold Classic. Dexter was not going to do this show initially, but decided he may as well throw his hat into the ring. Dex is not someone you take lightly onstage. He can still get hard as nails and has a very refined physique and Dex at 90% is still a formidable Dex.
Michael Kefalianos: Lots of muscle with a pretty decent frame. He is complete and carries great conditioning onstage. He took the stage at the Arnold classic Europe, but only netted an eighth place at that show. I'm not sure how well he will fare on this stage with much deeper competition.
Ben Pakulski:The new age Paul Demayo is coming to Columbus with a second place finish under his belt from the Flex Pro along with an improved physique from last years Arnold. Ben is another big guy with a great frame and has very little problem displaying it well. His arms still look a little out of proportion and his back is still a work in progress, but his legs dominate from every angle and his front lat spread shows a dedication to the "Iron Game"
Shawn Rhoden: Flexatron came in last week much fuller than he did at the Mr. Olympia but he sacrificed conditioning for hit. Shawn's frame is great and can do well if he keeps his size and adds in some very strong conditioning. He is developed pretty well, although he could put some more muscle on his back and it will only help him move up the ranks. Great physique all the way around.
Branch Warren: The defending champ is coming off a quad injury, but has been working his tail off to get back to winning form and it shows. He's still in Metroflex Gym in Arlington banging it out with Brian Dobson and hopefully we wont see too much of a difference in his quads. Branch will never style points in show. He's a tank that will just murder you with a combination of size, density and new detail every time we see him compete. I will not go so far as to say that as the defending champ, it's his show to lose, but I will say that he will be very tough to stand next to.
Ben White: Ben "The Showstopper" White has a great frame and we have seen his potential on the USA stage. Problem is that he hasnt come close to that again. He needs to come in big, full and hard to get the job done.
Dennis Wolf: Dennis has been making steady improvements since he has branched out on his and takes the reigns of his own precontest prep. He has a classical frame and is pretty graceful for a big man onstage. He is very well tapered and has phenomenal back development. He could win the whole thing to be quite honest.
Evan Centopani: Evan hasn't been onstage since last years Arnold and it looked to have paid great dividends. The videos on muscular Development show improvement in all areas of his physique. The one thing that can hurt Evan is that he needs to stay full while being in good condition. His structure leaves a little to be desired, but thats fine because he can out muscle people.
I think this entire field is very deep, unfortunately we wont be able to see Victor Martinez onstage at this one due to legal issue, but this show is very competitive. I would not want to be a judge at this show.
Thanks for reading!