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2017 Mr. Olympia Predictions - Men's Open Bodybuilding

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2017 MR. OLYMPIA PREDICTIONS
By: BRANDEN LIEZERT

Olympia preview brought to you by Rivalus

 

OPEN MEN'S BODYBUILDING

1. Phil “The Gift” Heath

The past year has seen more hype build around potential usurpers to the bodybuilding throne than in the past several years before it. Ramy, Curry, Big Mac – the list goes on. Let me ask you this, “When was the last time someone made leaps and bounds in a 12-month span to finally knock off one of the best bodybuilders to ever step on stage?” It was 2011, when Phil Heath unveiled a hugely progressed physique on the Vegas stage and beat one of the greatest of all time, Jay Cutler.

To me, Ramy being better will simply not be enough. He has a long way to go in terms of condition until it comes anywhere close to matching King Heath. Curry is still undersized compared to “The Gift” and Cedric just doesn’t have the density or overwhelming thickness that Heath possesses.

Perennial favourites will at least make it a bit interesting, but if they haven’t beat Heath to this point – they won’t magically on Saturday night. Rhoden’s back is too shallow and thin, Dexter doesn’t have the size and Ramy just will not be sharp enough.

I’ve said it for a long time (check back to last year’s predictions), Heath is one of the three best bodybuilders to ever grace a stage. It’s human nature to want change and try and put the ones atop the heap down a peg, but it’s much more rewarding and comfortable to appreciate the greatness before you. Heath wins 7.

2. Shawn “Flexatron” Rhoden

From about 2011 until 2016, Rhoden’s physique was my favourite in the entire IFBB men’s open bodybuilding ranks. Flaring quads, capped deltoids, a tiny waist with an outstanding v-taper. In 2017, Rhoden’s waist did seem a little blown-out. In all likelihood, it was just from a bit of an overshot when it came to his carb-up. However, it did take away from the classical lines, proportionality and aesthetics Flexatron was known for.

Beyond that, the fact of the matter is that Rhoden just doesn’t compare well at all to Heath from the back. In comparison, his back is shallow and his hamstrings just aren’t as thick or detailed as Heath’s. Rhoden is always a threat to a podium position, but I personally thought 2012 and 2013 versions of Rhoden were the closest to beating Heath and ever since his physique has looked a little “crowded” and less aesthetic. In any case, a Rhoden as good as last year is almost guaranteed a second-place finish.

3. Dexter “The Blade” Jackson

The ageless wonder Dexter Jackson was competing in the Mr. Olympia ten years before Shawn Rhoden turned pro. This will be his (own) record-breaking 18th Mr. Olympia contest. He is the epitome of consistency and longevity. If you were to assess The Blade’s physique, you’d be hard pressed to find a weakness. The winningest bodybuilder in history shows no clear signs of slowing down, though I do suspect if he is to fall below the top-three at this year’s big dance he will announce his retirement.

Jackson easily could’ve been second-place last year. Even with my bias to Rhoden, I had Dexter solidly in second and honestly, I thought he pushed Heath as hard as anyone had since 2013. You can expect Dexter to bring razor-sharp conditioning and work the crowd into a top-three position. If his lights-out shots (most-muscular, back double bicep and rear lat spread) are on par with vintage Blade, he might even give Heath a bit of a challenge and end up in second.

 

4. Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay

The hype of the 2017 Mr. Olympia competition lays in one name and it’s Mamdouh Elssbiay. Everyone and their mother is expecting, predicting, reporting and guaranteeing Big Ramy will be at his best ever this year and will take the throne from Phil Heath. But why?

Well, common theme is that he’s taking it seriously this year. He’s not playing games. He’s finally coming to win. So… what, he wasn’t before? He was only giving it 90%? To me, the pressure is on – but nothing else changes. It’s not just this year, it’s all of the previous years that Ramy was taking it seriously and giving it all. I tend to go by resume and previous recent showings when it comes to bodybuilding. Here’s the facts: Ramy has yet to come into the O with great conditioning (forget “perfect” conditioning), he’s yet to beat any of the three listed before him in Las Vegas and he’s nowhere near as aesthetic, proportionate or symmetrical as Heath, Rhoden or Jackson.

He’s still young and he is still capable of making leaps and bounds with his physique, but that isn’t what he needs. He does not need ANY more muscle. He needs to come into the Super Bowl of bodybuilding in inside-out condition. It’s been shown that his overwhelming size is not enough alone to take the crown. If we see an eviscerated version of Elssbiay, he could challenge Heath – that’s entirely possible. However, the odds based on previous showings are against him showing up absolutely diced. Much more likely that we see Ramy finish 3rd-5th instead of winner or runner-up, in my opinion.

5. William “The Conqueror” Bonac

Bonac is a ball of densely packed muscle. For those of those that were yapping about how he should suck down to 212, what about now? A top-five finish at last year’s Olympia should be enough to change your mind, but here’s a little extra nugget – Bonac was 4th after prejudging last year. That’s right, the five and a half foot tall Neil Hill disciple was ahead of the 100-pound larger Ramy after the first round of judging last year.

The simple fact is Bonac doesn’t have the frame to add enough muscle to challenge Heath this year, but you can bank on Bonac having striated glutes, triceps, lats… everything on stage. Bonac was the most improved bodybuilder from 2015 to 2016 and if he could keep the momentum rolling into 2017 we might see him best Ramy at prejudging and finals this go around.

6. Roelly “The Beast” Winklaar

Winklaar has had his ups and downs in his career, but with his new added size it seems he will have many more ups than downs in his future. Winklaar has superb bodybparts, but they just don’t seem to match up with each other aesthetically. His huge arms overshadow his back and chest. Even in is back, his overwhelmingly large traps distract from his lats and erectors. He’s been much better at controlling his midsection in the past couple of years, but that’s always something that has been documented in the past for docking him a place or two.

Winklaar could bring it all together and possibly get into the top four spots, but if he’s not sharp he will be on the outside looking in for the first callout. There’s too many people that will be prepping tooth-and-nail to get into that elusive first callout that will gladly take Roelly’s place away from him.

7. Cedric “Big Mac” McMillan

“Big Mac” was the winner of the 2017 Arnold Classic Ohio. After doing everything he could’ve possibly done except win at the Arnold Classic in previous years, “Big Mac” finally took home top honours past the late Dallas McCarver. Cedric was a crowd favourite for many years in Columbus, partially from his very jovial and friendly personality and partially due to his absolutely classical golden-era lines and proportions.

For many years, the Olympia has been known to reward size, density and conditioning moreso than the Arnold Classic. McMillan doesn’t can’t match Heath in the above critera, but he does beat almost everyone above him when it comes to presentation, stage presence, proportionality and symmetry. The ceiling for McMillan is probably fifth-place, but like Roelly he could see himself plumment to the bottom-end of the top-ten if he isn’t in great condition.

8. Josh Lenartowicz

It was only a couple of weeks ago when Lanartowicz lost one of his best friends and wasn’t certain about himself competing at the Mr. Olympia competition. Lenartowicz burst onto the scene in late 2015 and followed up the momentum with great showings in early 2016 that eventually translated to a 9th-place finish in Las Vegas.

Josh just recently won the 2017 IFBB Tampa Pro where he really wasn’t challenged. He has a lot of extremely dense muscle and has shown to be very capable of combining that with jaw-dropping condition. Josh likely still has some time to pass before he’s a top-callout guy at the greatest bodybuilding show on earth, but if a few people slip up ahead of him he could find himself amongst the other five best bodybuilders in the world.

9. Victor “The Dominican Dominator” Martinez

Martinez has been knocked down more times than anyone else in this show, but he always finds a way to battle back. He’s rebuilt his physique to be a threat to win any show outside of the AC Ohio or the Mr. Olympia and is easily one of the most resilient competitors to ever don a pair of posing trunks.

Martinez will be a factor in the second callout, but I cannot foresee any circumstances where he works his way into the first. I think it’s much more likely Martinez is outside the top-ten than inside the top-six.

10. Nathan “The Prophecy” De Asha

Make no mistake about it, De Asha was by far the most overlooked competitor in the 2017 Mr. Olympia competition last year. De Asha combined a lot of mass with a tiny waist and great conditioning. According to his social media posts from his account and his team, he looks to have packed on a considerable amount of muscle and is definitely in show-ready conditioning. In some camps, they make the choice to create mystique and cover up the last few weeks of a show, but De Asha is clearly full of confidence and is displaying his physique even up to five days out. Look for De Asha to battle his way into a middle spot in the second callout.

11. Brandon “The Prodigy” Curry

Curry has improved tremendously in the past 12 months. A win in New Zealand was the showcase for his progression as Curry took the title with a double-digit gain of stage-conditioned poundage. Curry has always had the lines to make him an future threat at the highest levels of bodybuilding. To me, he is still a tiny bit “top-heavy” and still must improve his chest to be truly proportionate. Having said that, Curry will likely be battling with De Asha to get into a middle spot in the second-callout.

12. Gerald Williams

Williams has been a bit of a breakout athlete this year. However, to casual bodybuilding fans he’s still a relative unknown. So, I’ll get you up to speed. Williams is the best example of “size isn’t everything” outside of the bedroom. He’s got a very finely sewn physique compete with flaring quads and lats, a super small and shredded midsection and a decent amount of density on a physique that can’t possibly weigh more than 235 pounds. Gerald qualified for this year’s O by winning the California Pro beating out Sasan Heirati in an absolute battle. Look for Gerald to work his way up through either callout (second or third) that he gets into.

13. Maxx Charles

Maxx teamed up with a new coach (Johnny Casalena) at the start of 2017 and he has brought a very improved physique to stages this year. He finished 3rd at the Arnold to start his season off and recently played runner-up to Josh Lenartowicz’s win in Tampa. You can attribute this to added leg size and a ste forward in conditioning. This new version of Charles can be a threat in the second callout if he brings next-level conditioning that he is still lacking.

14. Lionel Beyeke

The best example of inconsistency in the lineup, Beyeke had a lot of momentum behind him coming into the Arnold Classic Ohio this past year. However, it was the old Beyeke that showed up in Columbus. He sported soft glutes, watery hamstrings and a severe lack of “pop” to his muscles on the stage and was justly awarded a disappointing fourth-place.

Beyeke has the very legitimate potential to knab a top-six spot in Vegas, but given his track record it’s just nearly impossible to confidently say that’s going to happen. What is very possible? He shows up, makes us all upset at his lacked of fulfilled potential and winds up battling to stay in the top-ten and fails with his very deep lineup.

15. Johnnie O. Jackson

JOJ is a veteran of the Olympia stage and a tried-and-true professional of the IFBB. Well known for his other-worldly back development, JOJ got the best of Jon De La Rosa in Toronto this year in a close decision. Jackson is well aware he’s not going to upset the masses and catapult to the top of the field, but he can give a few competitors some trouble in the lower callouts. Johnnie’s upper body may carry him into a second callout position, but I find it more likely that he is a favourable comparison in the third callout.

16. Michael Lockett

Lockett brings nearly unbelievable conditioning every single time he competes. To me, he still has a lot of muscular improvements to make before he is a threat at this level. He also has a bit of a size discrepancy from left to right when comes to his legs, especially in the quads. Lockett might sneak into the second callout with conditioning, but with anything less than his outstanding usual full, dry and ripped looked – he’ll be relegated to the third callout.

Lukas Osladil

Osladil is a relative unknown, but now has twice qualified for the Mr. Olympia competition by winning a pro show. He will be one of the most conditioned bodybuilders in Las Vegas this weekend, but just is lacking too many things to beat a threat to the crown. Osladil might be able to best a few competitors, but more than likely you’’ note his conditioning instead of his placing come next week.

Jeff Beckham

Beckham is another one of my favourite bodybuilders on the scene. He always brings it for his finals routine, unfortunately we won’t see it this time out. Beckham has great quads and arms, a good back and a fairly small waist. Sometimes he has trouble controlling his midsection, but his real problem is a significantly shallower chest than any other body part. Beckham is aware he won’t be battling it out with Rhoden, Heath, Jackson, etc. However, Beckham in 100% shape could land 13th-15th.