KO At The O

Team Weider experts tell you what they think will happen when the world’s best collide for the winner-take-all battle of the year. The countdown to the 2012 Mr. Olympia begins now!
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Flex Magazine's Olympia Contest Coverage

Reprinted from Flex Magazine September 2012.

The Sandow. In the sport of bodybuilding there is no higher honor. It’s our Vince Lombardi trophy, Stanley Cup, and Larry O’Brien Championship trophy all rolled into a 16-inch tall, 17-pound bronze statue modeled after the likeness of Friedrich Wilhelm Müller, aka, Eugen Sandow, the “Father of Modern Bodybuilding.” This year, like every year, the best in the world will try to do what only a handful of men before them have done over the past 47 Olympias: be the last man standing to hold the most treasured item in all of bodybuilding.

Prior to 2011, Phil Heath was one challenger among many, and all were chasing Jay Cutler. With his victory over Cutler last September, Heath became the 13th man to join the sport’s most exclusive club. Now everyone is chasing Heath and he wants to keep the membership tally right where it is. With the target looming on his back, all eyes are on the new champ as he faces off against Kai Greene, Branch Warren, Dennis Wolf, and other contenders in his first title defense. Of the 13 Mr. Olympias, nine have gone on to repeat. Will Heath be No. 10?

We’ve enlisted the aid of Team Weider’s very own Dennis James, Chad Nicholls, and Fakhri Mubarak for their expert analysis and predictions. At press time (roughly three months prior to the contest), questions swirl around two men: Jay Cutler and Victor Martinez. Cutler underwent surgery for a torn left biceps in February, and Martinez was released in April from a correctional facility for immigration charges dating back to last October. Although they have neither confirmed nor denied their Olympia plans and are at the heart of the “will he or won’t he” rumor talks, they are included in this preview along with the other athletes on the official list of qualified competitors from mrolympia.com. Here are the ones to watch at the 2012 Mr. Olympia.

 

Phil Heath

 

Date of Birth: Dec. 18, 1979

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 248 lbs

Olympia History: 2008, 3rd; 2009, 5th; 2010, 2nd; 2011, 1st

 

The reigning Mr. Olympia has a proven track record of making dramatic improvements from contest to contest—and with the exception of the 2009 Mr. Olympia (due to food poisoning), he has been spot-on in all 11 pro shows he’s entered. Added delt and quad mass, while keeping his waist tight, have erased the “too narrow” label that plagued him earlier in his career. At 248 pounds, he doesn’t have to worry about being outmuscled. His ace in the hole? Heath currently owns the best money shot in the sport: the rear double-biceps pose.

James

“All he has to do is match the condition he had
last year and it’s a done deal. What is there to improve? He doesn’t need more size. He’s got more detail than anybody, and he’s the hardest guy in the sport. When he hits a pose, everything pops. He is the champ, and I don’t see anybody that has an answer to this physique.”

Mubarak

“Phil is a beast both genetically and mentally.
He needs to win, and that is what propels him to be the best in the hardest sport in the world. We turned pro at the same show [2005 NPC USA], and I told him he would be Mr. Olympia one day. He gets nasty peeled and his round muscle bellies are like nobody else’s on that stage.”

Nicholls

“Last year, Phil was simply amazing. He’s in the driver’s seat, and this show is without a doubt, Phil’s to win or lose. For him to lose he would really have to slip up. We have seen him miss a step here or there, but he’d really have to fall on his face and I just don’t see it happening.”

 

Kai Greene

 

Date of Birth: Jul. 12, 1975

Height: 5’8”

Weight: 260 lbs

Olympia History: 2009, 4th; 2010, 7th; 2011, 3rd

 

Competing only in the Olympia this year and keeping his off-season body weight to 300 pounds (versus 320 pounds) could be just what Greene needs to present his all-time best. He shows remarkable detail in his lower body but is still a tad blurry in his upper half. He will need to focus on being drier than ever to move up this year. With his low-hanging lats and tremendous lower body, Greene is potentially the biggest threat to Heath in the rear-double biceps pose.

Mubarak

“The Predator loves bodybuilding and has endured a lot to get here. Kai has body parts that nobody else has. He doesn’t have a “V” back, he has a “W” back. It looks crazy when he turns to the rear. Kai’s only concern is his waist getting too wide. By the looks of it, he has gained control of it. He’s huge and he gets shredded! That’s the perfect combination for success.”

James

“Kai has been quiet and you never know what is going on with him. But Kai is the one guy who can stand next to Phil and, if Phil is not 100%, beat him. He’s got the size advantage, and I’m talking everywhere, even arms. But he’s got to bring the type of condition and detail that he had when he won the 2009 Arnold. If he does that and keeps the size he’s added since then, he has the potential to overpower Phil.”

Nicholls

“Last year, Phil was ‘Kai is the guy who can take his conditioning to a level we haven’t seen, or a level that no one in this lineup could match.’ But we haven’t seen it from him yet and I would be willing to bet we won’t see it this year. Even though he did well in his past two contests, it is still not close to what his physique is capable of. Without a drastic revamping of his game plan, we will either ‘see the same ol’ Kai’ or the worst Kai yet. Hopefully, I am wrong.”

 

Jay Cutler

 

Date of Birth: Aug. 3, 1973

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 270 lbs

Olympia History: 1999, 15th; 2000, 8th; 2001, 2nd; 2003-05, 2nd; 2006-07, 1st; 2008, 2nd; 2009-10, 1st; 2011, 2nd

 

With his wide structure and overall thickness, he will outmass everyone in the lineup, but his conditioning will have to
be at or better than his history-making performance in 2009, when he became the only competitor to win back the Sandow the year after losing it.

Mubarak

“If Jay decides to do the show, he will be up there battling it out for the top spot. He is wide as hell, and when he nails his conditioning, he’s just too freaky. I’ve always been a Jay fan since he turned pro and if he’s on, he’s the one guy who can take it to Phil.”

James

“I don’t see Jay doing it. He needs to be as good as he was in 2009, and I mean the entire package—size, fullness, and condition. That’s the only way he can pull off another win. But with the surgery and all the business ventures, I don’t think he has had the time to fully commit himself, and Jay will do it only if he’s training to win.”

Nicholls

“Jay is the one guy who has the ability to still take Phil out in this lineup—but I don’t believe we will see him onstage this year. I believe he will play it smart, take the year off, and put everything into one final attempt to make history. Jay is still capable of giving us his best package yet, but don’t think we will see that until 2013.”

 

Branch Warren

 

Date of Birth: Feb. 15, 1975

Height: 5’7”

Weight: 245 lbs

Olympia History: 2005, 8th; 2009, 2nd; 2010, 3rd

 

Warren, who missed the 2011 Olympia after tearing his left quad tendon last August, delivered on his promise to return to the stage at the Arnold Classic, where he scored his second Arnold win. Warren’s power-packed physique and bone-dry condition make him a front-runner and perennial fan favorite.

James

“Branch made an incredible comeback, basically sweeping the Arnold Classic this past March. He doesn’t have the separation and detail of some of the top guys, but I expect to see him in the thick of things. He brings a lot of fire to the stage, and he will definitely hear it from the fans.”

 

Mubarak

The beast from Texas! Branch has plenty of wow factor. When you talk about thickness, Branch is listed right on the top. His lower body was ahead of his upper body, but he has worked really hard to bring everything in line to become a true freak. When Branch comes in peeled and grainy, it’s lights-out for nearly everybody else.”

 

Nicholls

“In order for someone to beat Phil this year, it will be an athlete like Branch who can play to his own strengths. Branch will need to team freaky conditioning with crazy, hard graininess. I believe we will see Branch at 100%. It just really depends on what Phil looks like and how they stack up side by side.”

 

Dennis Wolf

 

Date of Birth: Oct. 30, 1978

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 275 lbs

Olympia History: 2006, DNP; 2007, 5th; 2009, DNP; 2010-11, 5th

 

The Big Bad Wolf is one of the tallest men onstage, and his combination of size and shape is always a hit, especially from the front. However, he will need to be just as outstanding in the side and rear poses.

James

“Dennis just needs to dial it in, and he will be a major force. He’s brought up his back, and his conditioning has been much more consistent. He makes everybody else look small from the front, especially in the first two poses, the front double-biceps and front-lat spread. He just opens up and looks like he gained 20 pounds in two seconds. That’s a terrific head start in the compulsory posing round.”

Nicholls

“Dennis has that combination of freaky size, fantastic structure, and height that draws attention. The last couple of shows, his conditioning has been good when he first steps onstage, but his downfall continues to be that he fades drastically throughout prejudging. With this lineup, he could definitely fall several spots if he cannot hold his conditioning—it’s the one kink in his armor.”

Mubarak

“What a physique! He has great lines, symmetry, and he’s big. Those traits make Dennis one of the best in the world. His only weakness is high lats. He is bringing them lower every year. Dennis has the potential to win every show he enters. I believe Dennis will be at his best this year.”

 

Evan Centopani

 

Date of Birth: April 7, 1982

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 265 lbs

Olympia History: Rookie

 

Centopani is a new breed of tall and wide body-
builders with excellent proportions. He achieves
 the grainy look reminiscent of Dorian Yates in the
’90s. He’s been consistent with his condition and MASS fullness but still needs a little more torso mass and overall polish to really make his mark.

James

“He has the size, symmetry, and beautiful shape to stand with the best, but he has not been able to nail his condition. He has thick skin, so he looks a little smoother than the guys with thinner skin. Maybe he needs a couple more contests to figure out his body. If he nails his conditioning, he could be very dangerous for anybody on that stage. But that’s a big if.”

Mubarak

“Evan is a hard worker and has always been in shape in all the shows he has done. He is a big dude who can still get bigger, and that is scary. He’s also a smart bodybuilder who understands nutrition and how to prep correctly. I believe he has the goods to crack the top six in his first Olympia.”

Nicholls

“I think Evan will do well for his first Olympia. But he will have to take his conditioning above and beyond what he has shown us. I was a bit disappointed with his 2012 Arnold showing [3rd] and didn’t see many improvements after he took an entire year off. Still, if he takes his conditioning to a crazy level, he can be a top-six guy.”

 

Victor Martinez

 

Date of Birth: July 29, 1973

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 255 lbs

Olympia History: 2004, 9th; 2005, 5th; 2006, 3rd; 2007, 2nd; 2009, 6th; 2010, 8th; 2011, 4th

Mubarak

“My man! Welcome home! We need Victor on stage. At one time, Ronnie Coleman predicted that Victor would be the next Mr. O. That means a lot coming from the eight-time Mr. Olympia, whom I consider to be the greatest of all-time. Victor is complete, he’s big, round, symmetrical, and when he’s peeled, he is close to unbeatable. I hope he has enough time to be at his best.”

James

“Victor has had his share of trials leading into the Olympia. Seven months is a long time to go without training and eating the way a bodybuilder needs to, but it could be a blessing in disguise. With so much time off, his body will soak up everything and his muscle memory will kick in, so there is potential for him to look better than ever.”

Nicholls

“Victor is one of the most gifted guys in this lineup. But with only a very short period of time to prep for this show—I just hope he doesn’t rush into competing. I’d much rather see him take the time off to make improvements so that when he steps back onstage, he is no less than 100%. I believe when it’s all said and done, Victor will wait until the 2013 Arnold to compete.”

 

Dexter Jackson

 

Date of Birth: July 25, 1969

Height: 5’6”

Weight: 235 lbs

Olympia History: 1999-2000 9th; 2001, 8th; 2002, 4th; 2003, 3rd; 2004, 4th; 2006, 4th; 2007, 3rd; 2008, 1st; 2009, 3rd; 2010, 4th; 2011, 6th

Jackson has been off from the trademark condition that earned him the 2008 Mr. Olympia and three Arnold Classic titles (2005–06, 2008).
 With detail and dryness his main weapons against larger opponents, he will need to return to the form that earned him the moniker the Blade.

James

“Dexter has been going a little backward the last couple of years. He’s at the age where his body just doesn’t respond as it used to. So he’s doing more cardio and dieting longer but not coming in as hard. He’s a veteran competitor and he’s still got a fantastic physique, but it will be very hard for him to hold his own against this younger generation for much longer.”

Mubarak

“A 100% Dexter is capable of beating anyone. Dexter has been around for a long time and has won all the big shows. The Blade is a future Hall of Fame bodybuilder because of his great shape, conditioning, small joints, and symmetry. He’s in his early 40s but still capable of kicking some younger butt.”

Nicholls

“Every time Dexter is counted out, he proves us wrong. Dexter will have to go away from focusing on size and come in 100% conditioned. Even if he sacrifices some muscle to get there, if he is shredded, he will be in the mix. But if he enters the lineup even a bit off, he’ll fall from the top six.”

 

Lionel Beyeke

 

Date of Birth: Sept. 10, 1980

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 255 lbs

Olympia History: Rookie

With excellent structure, shape
and full muscle bellies, Beyeke 
is the modern-day version of Flex Wheeler with the added dimension of imposing size. But in all five pro shows he has done, Beyeke has yet to present the kind of detail needed at the Olympia level.

James

“I like the way he’s been progressing. He doesn’t try to add crazy size, so he has kept his symmetry and lines, not to mention a tight waist. And he’s thinking ahead to the next contest because he stays in good condition all year long. He just needs a little more muscle maturity. If some of the veterans come in off, he could be a major factor. In another year or two, he will definitely be challenging for the title.”

Mubarak

“Lionel has a lot of potential. He is a big guy in a not-so-tall frame. He hasn’t been 100% yet, and even though he won the 2012 FLEX Pro, he wasn’t the hardest guy onstage. His size, shape, and small waist helped him at that show. To be able to crack the top six, Lionel needs to be
much harder, especially from the back.”

Nicholls

“Lionel’s key is conditioning. We haven’t seen him in shape yet. He has all the tools to be great, but he’s a mile away from showing us that. I think he is still a couple of years away from doing damage in an Olympia lineup.”

 

Johnnie Jackson

 

Date of Birth: Jan. 30, 1971

Height: 5’8”

Weight: 255 lbs

Olympia History: 2003, 11th; 2004, 14th; 2005, 11th; 2006, 13th; 2007, 9th; 2008, 12th; 2010, 11th; 2011, 13th

Jackson will need to show more leg mass and match or surpass the dryness he showed at the 2012 FIBO German Pro (his third pro victory) to finish in the top 10 in this, his ninth Olympia appearance.

James

“I work with Johnnie, and I’ve said for years that he has one of the best upper bodies in the sport—probably top three. In every single pose, he’s standing with the best. His side chest kills everybody from the waist up. It reminds me of Bertil Fox, just brutal mass from years of pounding heavy weights. If he could just add an inch-and-a- half on his outer-quad sweep, he would be fighting for the Sandow.”

Mubarak

“Johnnie is one of the strongest bodybuilders in the world and has the upper-body thick- ness to prove it. His lower body has always been his challenge. His quads are pretty good, but he lags a little behind in hamstrings and calves. An in-shape Johnnie has always been good enough to place high at any show, including here.”

Nicholls

“Johnnie has really done well this year and seems to have found the combination of size and conditioning that is being rewarded. In the Olympia lineup however, he will really have to push the conditioning further. In the past when he has done this, he has sacrificed overall leg size and this has always hurt him. Even if he brings his best conditioning ever, he still needs to balance it with fullness to stay in the game.”

 

Cedric McMillan

 

Date of Birth: Aug. 17, 1977

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 255 lbs

Olympia History: Rookie

Heaped with praise for the promise he showed after earning his pro card in 2009 at the NPC Nationals, McMillan, despite winning the 2011 Orlando Show of Champions, underperformed in his first two pro seasons. With his win at this year’s New York Pro, he is back on the Olympia radar. but he will have to take his condition to the next level to fulfill his potential.

Nicholls

“Cedric has been very inconsistent at his last few shows. Can he improve from his New York Pro victory? If he comes in with a bit more size and 15% improvements in conditioning, he could take out some of the top-named guys. He’s definitely got to prove himself at this show.”

Mubarak

“Cedric is a really good bodybuilder when he is on. He has great lines and his physique flows very well. This year at the New York Pro, he was the clear-cut winner. If he can nail his condition, he can break the top six. Cedric needs to add a little more size and he will be in that first callout at the O very soon.”

James

“This is what bodybuilding is all about. He has structure, proportion, symmetry, and, of course, size. We always say that if a tall guy can fill out his frame, it’s game over and Cedric has everything he needs to win every show he enters—but he has to nail it. I want to see him 10% harder than he was at the New York Pro. But he’s had issues with conditioning so we’ll just have to wait and see if he can deliver when it counts.”

 

Michael Kefalianos

Date of Birth: Aug. 16, 1970

Height: 5’6”

Weight: 231 lbs

Olympia History: Rookie

James

“Kefalianos edged out Johnnie Jackson to win the European Pro earlier this year but he will need to come in bigger and be just as sharp as he was earlier in the year if he is to crack the top 10 in this lineup.”

Mubarak

“This man has competed in several shows the past couple of years. He comes in hard and peeled. He is also a thick dude. He has full muscles but needs to be careful to control his waist, as he can’t afford to get any blockier.”

Nicholls

“Michael is always very sharp, and at the smaller shows, he is able to stay in the mix, but at the elite level, his physique flaws will stand out and no matter how shredded he is, it will hurt him. But there is no doubt he will be one of the best conditioned guys in the lineup.”

Ronny Rockel

Date of Birth: July 12, 1972

Height: 5’6”

Weight: 225 lbs

Olympia History: 2005, DNP; 2006, DNP; 2007, 11th; 2008, 14th; 2009, 7th; 2010, 6th; 2011, 9th

James

“He took this season off after qualifying last year, but that may not be the best strategy. Nobody is talking about him. It’s not like a Phil or Kai; those are heavy hitters who can get away with doing one show a year. Ronny is very complete, but against the mass monsters in this lineup, he’s gonna look a little lost.”

Mubarak

“Ronny 
has always had a great physique. He’s thick as a brick but needed
to tighten his condition to propel himself to the next level. He has been a top-tier bodybuilder for a few years now. He’s probably one of the best when it comes to symmetry. His only weakness is his height.”

Nicholls

“Ronny is a very balanced athlete, but, unfortunately, his conditioning has slipped over the past couple of years. For him to be
a factor, he’ll need to bring his conditioning back up to par with what we expect from him. If he brings it up, he could be a top-six contender, but if he is off, even 5%, it could place him out of the top 10.”

Bill Wilmore

Date of Birth: July 31, 1971

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 255 lbs

Olympia History: 2006-07 DNP; 2009 DNP

Wilmore has competed in the Olympia four times but has never placed. He’s got good torso thickness but lacks arm and leg mass. He will have to be at his most shredded to make a dent.

James

“He’s got good size,
 but he’s gonna have
a real hard time against this level of competition. You need everything
at this show, and I don’t see bill having the structure and shape to cause any of the top guys any problems.”

Mubarak

“A very crafty veteran. He won the 2012 Toronto pro over my client Jon Delarosa. Bill was big and conditioned. He has good muscle maturity that gets grainy when he is dry. Bill could crack the top 10.”

Nicholls

“Bill keeps getting the
job done so congrats on 
his win [2012 Toronto Pro Supershow]. He will have
a tough time with the caliber of athletes in the Olympia lineup—but should be proud to have made the trip.”

 

Final Picks:

James

  1. Phil Heath
  2. 
Kai Greene

  3. Dennis Wolf

  4. Jay Cutler*
  5. 
Branch Warren
  6. Victor Martinez*
  7. Evan Centopani
  8. Dexter Jackson
  9. Cedric McMillan
  10. Johnnie Jackson

*In the event Cutler and Martinez do not compete, competitors beneath them move up and Lionel Beyeke fills the ninth spot, with Ronny Rockel in 10th.

Nicholls (top five only)

  1. Phil Heath
  2. 
Branch Warren
  3. Dennis Wolf
  4. 
Kai Green

  5. Evan Centopani

*Nicholls has elected to omit Cutler and Martinez but maintains that he would place them in the top six if they were to compete.

Mubarak

  1. Phil Heath
  2. 
Jay Cutler
  3. 
3. Kai Greene
  4. 
Branch Warren
  5. Dennis Wolf

  6. Victor Martinez
  7. Evan Centopani
  8. Dexter Jackson
  9. Cedric McMillan
  10. Ronny Rockel

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