|Muscletime Predictions for the 2008 Mr. Olympia|
|Written by Muscletime|
|Thursday, 11 September 2008 08:58|
The reigning two-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler revealed his vulnerability at the 2007 Mr. Olympia when he narrowly defeated runner up Victor Martinez in a questionable and controversial judging decision. This set the stage for a highly anticipated "rematch" between Jay and Victor at the 2008 Mr. Olympia. Unfortunately, this did not materialize when Victor Martinez suffered a devastating knee injury that forced him to sit out the entire year. Two additional world class bodybuilders have subsequently withdrawn from the 2008 lineup after suffering injuries of their own. Branch Warren (with a torn tricep) and Kai Greene (with a hernia) were legitimate top six contenders. The withdrawal of top bodybuilders from the 2008 Olympia has not made Jay Cutler's goal of retaining the Olympia crown any easier.
Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler faces the greatest challenge of his bodybuilding career at the 2008 Mr. Olympia. He faces several obstacles embodied by Dennis Wolf, Dexter Jackson, and Phil Heath in his quest for a third consecutive Olympia victory.
The Muscletime Team previews the 2008 Mr. Olympia with our predictions. We are unanimous in our agreement that Jay Cutler is the favorite to win the 2008 contest. But we are divided on who we think represents the greatest threat to Jay Cutler's Olympia supremacy in the annual showdown of the greatest physiques in bodybuilding.
Will Jay's Olympia Reign Come to an End?
Will Dexter Ever Win a Sandow?
Will Dennis Win Over the Judges This Time?
Can Phil Continue to Live Up to the Hype?
1. Jay Cutler
The 2008 Olympia will be his most challenging Olympia to date for current Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler. While Ronnie Coleman was a foreboding obstacle to Jay’s ultimate ascension to the Olympia throne, Cutler must overcome, not one, but three impediments standing between him and the title of the world’s top bodybuilder at the 2008 Mr. Olympia.
Jay Cutler is clearly the favorite to repeat for a third consecutive Mr. Olympia. The 2008 Olympia is likely the last one for the reigning two-time Mr. Olympia. Knowing this, I think Jay has given everything he has and put forth 100% effort in this year’s preparation to win one more Sandow against what I think will be the best Dexter Jackson we have ever seen.
2. Dexter Jackson
Dexter Jackson will be in his best shape ever and will come very close to winning and may even deserve to win. But even then, will they give it to Dexter? The man has never missed his peak on contest day in a professional career that has spanned almost a decade.
3. Dennis Wolf
Dennis Wolf is the people’s champion and the uncrowned Mr. Olympia going into the 2008 Mr. Olympia. He could potentially be this year’s champion; but I still feel that this will not be the year that the judges bestow upon him the recognition afforded to a Mr. Olympia champion. Regardless of his placing at the Olympia, he will be the "big shocker" of this year’s Olympia. It will be a shocking upset if he defeats Jay Cutler to win the 2008 contest and it will also be shocking if he does not beat Cutler!
After the Olympia is over, all the discussion will revolve around the massive giant known as Dennis Wolf.
4. Phil Heath
Phil Heath brings the best genetics that the sport of bodybuilding has seen in a very long time. But even with the awesome genetic advantages and amazing talent bestowed upon the Gift, I feel he will get lost among the great bodybuilders on the Olympia stage. He will not live up the the hype that has seemingly magically taken him from bodybuilding obscurity to the top of the sport in a few short years.
Jay Cutler, Dexter Jackson, and Dennis Wolf will derail the phenomenon known as the gift. Of course, Phil Heath remains a top contender for the title. Nevertheless, I feel that he will do no better than fourth place this year.
5. Toney Freeman
Toney Freeman the X-Man has returned; he is back in shape. Based on his victories at the 2008 Tampa Pro and 2008 Europa Pro, I easily place him in the top five at this year’s Olympia.
At age 42, Toney Freeman is as good as ever. This makes me feel pretty good given that I am 45 myself. He is a solid fifth place at the 2008 Mr. Olympia!
6. Silvio Samuel
I have never seen Silvio Samuel out of shape. I am almost convinced that Silvio simply does not know how to get out of shape; this knowledge has somehow eluded Mr. Samuel. The always superbly conditioned physique of Silvio Samuel make him a worthy top six Olympia finisher.
7. Gustavo Badell
Gustavo Badell is going to be disappointed again with his Olympia placing. He will be extremely unhappy at his failure to crack the top six this year; but I simply do not feel he will be hard enough to accomplish this. At his all time best, he would have done this easily even with the great bodybuilders competing at the 2008 Mr. Olympia.
But Badell is not at his best.
8. Melvin Anthony
Melvin Anthony possesses one of the nicest physiques out there. His masterful ability to display his physique to the fullest is a talent that eludes many good bodybuilders. Athletes at many pro shows, in spite of all their success in the sport, sell themselves short by never learning how to display their physique properly. If Melvin does not distinguish himself from everyone else with his physique, he certainly is in a class by himself with presentation.
Melvin should be highly conditioned this year. It will be very close between Melvin Anthony, Silvio Samuel and Gustavo Badell. But I do not think he will crack the top six this year. Personally, I would want Melvin’s physique if I could choose.
9. David Henry
David Henry will make short bodybuilders around the world very proud. David could easily be a Mr. Olympia with only a few more inches; his height is probably the only thing holding him back.
But another top ten finish is a huge achievement for David.
10. Dennis James
Dennis James could be 10th place; he could also be fifth place or anywhere in between. The big question is which version of Dennis James will show up in Vegas for the 2008 Olympia?
James is very inconsistent. Consequently, his placing is the most difficult to predict. Dennis James erratic conditioning on stage at the Olympia make him a very interesting competitor to follow; I can’t wait to see what happens as far as Dennis is concerned.
1. Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler was off the mark in his conditioning at the 2007 Mr. Olympia, more so than at any other time in his career. He was nonetheless victorious; but he did not deserve to win.
This year will be a different story. I believe Cutler will win the 2008 Mr. Olympia in a couple of weeks. This may be, in part, wishful thinking on my part because I feel Cutler is a great Mr. Olympia for the sport of bodybuilding. I have doubts about whether his physique will have the necessary rock hard condition to decisively win the contest. I certainly hope so.
The Jay Cutler of 2006 will win without a doubt. The Jay Cutler of 2007 will not.
The IFBB would not risk further jeopardizing their credibility with another major judging scandal reminiscent of the 2007 Mr. Olympia controversy. Would they?
2. Dennis Wolf
If Dennis Wolf is 5% harder than he was at last year’s Olympia, he could very well upset Jay Cutler and win the Olympia in 2008. I do not know if he is capable of doing that. He already achieved a great physique last year. I placed him third behind Victor Martinez and Dexter Jackson. However, he must sharpen his conditioning a little more in order to win the big one. There is no doubt that he will be in good shape and HUGE. But will he have the extra hard conditioning that is necessary to win?
His advantage in overall size and structure will be sufficient to edge out Phil Heath and Dexter Jackson. His tremendous fan support will surely give pause to the Olympia judges.
Dennis Wolf is clearly the next "big thing" in bodybuilding.
3. Phil Heath
The 2008 Iron Man Pro champion will place in the top three, an admirable achievement in the sport. He might even beat Dexter Jackson this time around. It is likely that Phil Heath could have even defeated Dexter at the 2008 Arnold Classic if he maintained the same conditioning achieved at the Iron Man Pro two weeks earlier. If he matches or exceeds his Iron Man conditioning and is totally shredded at the Olympia, it will be an epic battle between Phil and Dexter.
4. Dexter Jackson
Dexter Jackson is always in shape. He is entering the Olympia with incredible momentum from his impressive Arnold Classic victory earlier this year. There is no doubt that Dexter will place in one of the top four spots. He looks bigger than ever right now.
If Dexter Jackson is ever to win a Mr. Olympia title, it will be on September 27, 2008. Dexter probably recognizes that this is his best chance to win the Sandow. But if he earns it and deserves, will they give it to him?
Jackson’s physique (and his career) deserve an Olympia title.
5. Melvin Anthony
There will be a major battle for the last two spots in the final top six competitors. It will be a difficult judging decision between Melvin Anthony, Toney Freeman, Gustavo Badell and Silvio Samuel.
I believe Melvin Anthony will still be good enough to edge out the others; his remarkable posing ability will help him as well. Melvin has historically been able to deliver during the Olympia. It is likely that he will do so at least once more at the 2008 Olympia.
6. Toney Freeman
The judges will score Toney Freeman very close to Melvin Anthony especially if his conditioning is comparable to what he displayed in Tampa a few weeks ago. I believe Toney Freeman will arrive on stage in excellent shape; he will not be quite as good as he was at the 2007 Iron Man Pro but close to his all-time best. And this is quite impressive for a big frame like Toney’s on the Olympia stage.
7. Silvio Samuel
Silvio Samuel will be good enough for the top ten again this year. Unfortunately, I do not see him placing any higher than the 7th place finish he received in 2007. This will undoubtedly be disappointing to Silvio; he competed in many few shows during the 2008 competitive year with the specific objective of improving for the Mr. Olympia. His decision to compete in fewer shows this year was a good one even though his placings do not improve.
8. Gustavo Badell
The 2008 Iron Man pro runner-up Gustavo Badell was a major contender at the 2004 and 2005 Olympias. However, in subsequent years, he failed to deliver the same package. For some reason, Badell has never approximated the same impressive combination of size and condition again. Now, his waist is thicker and he fails to deliver the same crazy hardness that made him famous.
9. Dennis James
Big Dennis James could possibly place in the top ten at the Olympia this year. He impressed me with the new smaller Dennis James light package he brought to the Tampa Pro and Europa Pro shows this year.
10. David Henry
David Henry is another possible top ten candidate. He was very good when he won the 202 & Under Class at the 2008 Tampa Pro show.
Notes on Other Contestants
Ronny Rockel - I see amazing upside potential for Ronny Rockel. He has a great physique and awesome muscle shape but he lacks the ability to get his condition together at the crucial moment – contest time. He could be a legitimate top six contender at any Olympia if he could only improve slightly (10% harder condition) from his Australia Pro show victory in 2006. I am beginning to have serious doubts that Ronny will ever achieve his potential and compete in really shredded condition.
Craig Richardson – Craig Richardson looked very good in Houston but I do not see him placing in the Olympia top ten. Richardson has competed on the pro circuit for several years now. He seems to be making great improvements this year, so he could surprise me at the Olympia
Moe Elmoussawi – Moe Elmoussawi was one of the biggest surprises of the 2007 Iron Man Pro show. If he arrives in Vegas in that type of condition, he could possibly break the top ten. It could happen...
Sergey Shelestov – Sergey Shelestov has qualified again for the Olympia. Fortunately for other Olympia contestants, Shelestov has never really achieved seriously ripped conditioning. If he ever does, watch out. It could be a rude awakening for a lot of athletes who are taking their placings for granted. Hope springs eternal. We had that dream before with Mustafa Mohammad. Sometimes it happens. Most of the time, it does not.
Leo Ingram – Leo Ingram is a wonderful new addition to the Olympia lineup in 2008. He has had great size and great conditioning this year. His structural disadvantages will keep him from placing near the top ten.
Fouad Abiad – Newcomer Fouad Abiad, who came out of nowhere to claim an Olympia qualification, was considering NOT competing in the Mr. Olympia. Sometimes, you must question the decisions made by some of the new pros. An injury could end a career.
How could anyone pass on the opportunity to compete on the Olympia stage?
1. Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler admittedly made mistakes in his precontest preparation for the 2007 Mr. Olympia that could have cost him the contest. In the immediate aftermath of the 2007 contest, the general consensus was that Cutler did not deserve the victory; although many noteworthy personalities later distanced themselves from such statements in an effort to return to Cutler’s good graces.
Jay Cutler will NOT make the same mistake twice; he will be one of the best conditioned and most massive athletes on stage. Cutler will avoid, at all costs, the awkwardness of post-Olympia interviews where he found himself on the defensive explaining to everyone why he won. The close call in 2007 provided the spark to fuel a monomaniacal pursuit of an "undisputed" 2008 Mr. Olympia title.
But will his incredible size and conditioning be sufficient to beat the top contenders for the Sandow? If Phil Heath, Dennis Wolf, and Dexter Jackson all arrive in Vegas significantly improved, does Jay Cutler still deserve to win?
Based on physique alone, the answer is probably no! But Jay Cutler has been one of the best Mr. Olympias for the sport of bodybuilding and has literally written the book on how to succeed financially as a professional bodybuilder. Given that IFBB judging has rarely been based solely on the IFBB judging criteria, these extraneous factors will guarantee Jay Cutler a third consecutive Mr. Olympia. I don’t think he will be denied.
2. Phil Heath
Phil Heath has had unparalleled success in bodybuilding for such a young and promising bodybuilder. After bypassing last year’s Olympia, he impressed everyone with his new and improved physique on display at the Iron Man and the Arnold Classic. But he still lost to Dexter Jackson.
This will be the show where Heath finally beats Dexter Jackson! Dexter Jackson has always had an incredible physique as a pro bodybuilder, but his improvements from year-to-year have ranged from infinitesimally small to non-existent. On the other hand, Phil Heath’s physique has improved by leaps and bounds in each of his year of his pro career. Phil Heath clearly will establish himself as a top bodybuilder of the future by knocking off Dexter.
3. Dennis Wolf
Many fans believed that Dennis Wolf should have won the 2007 Mr. Olympia. This seems like a ridiculous position to maintain given that Wolf was fifth place at that contest. Surprising only to those who did not watch the contest, the debate over whether Wolf should have placed ahead of Cutler and Victor Martinez was intensely serious. And his physique at the contest made it impossible to dismiss these arguments outright; the 2007 Mr. Olympia firmly established Dennis Wolf as a legitimate contender for the 2008 Mr. Olympia title.
More telling than the debate on Dennis Wolf as the uncrowned 2007 Mr. Olympia was the complete absence of a debate over whether he should have placed ahead of Dexter Jackson (and Ronnie Coleman).
I do not feel this will be Dennis’ year to take the title, but he will likely knock off Dexter Jackson for the first time.
4. Dexter Jackson
Is it possible that Dexter could provide the major upset of the Olympia? He was bigger than ever in the offseason "Dexter sightings" this year.
Dexter Jackson has consistently presented one of the most aesthetic and conditioned physiques in pro bodybuilding contests over the past decade. Yet, he has regularly been overshadowed by other bodybuilders at the "big show" also known as the Mr. Olympia. Unfortunately for Dexter, this may be a trend that continues at the 2008 Mr. Olympia. He has succeeded financially in the sport and has been victorious at other pro shows, but bodybuilding’s ultimate prize has always eluded him.
It is unfortunate that a storybook ending does not appear to be in the cards for such a gifted and deserving bodybuilder. How can the sport of bodybuilding fail to acknowledge one of the most aesthetically-pleasing bodybuilders in history on bodybuilding’s biggest stage? He will undoubtedly keep Shawn Ray company on the list of great bodybuilders never to win the Olympia if he does not win this year.
5. Silvio Samuel
Silvio Samuel made the decision to compete in only a few pro shows this year after competing in practically every pro show in 2007. It remains to be seen if the less frequent competition schedule has given him the opportunity to make significant improvements to his physique. We witnessed Silvio Samuel in great shape at the 2008 Houston Pro show. But did he display improvements sufficient to foreshadow a higher placing than his seventh place finish in 2007?
He may move up to the top five but only if Gustavo Badell fails to impress the judges and if Toney Freeman does not continue to improve from his appearances at the Tampa Pro Show and Europa Super Show.
6. Gustavo Badell
Gustavo Badell is stuck between fifth and sixth place. I can not see him placing higher in the current lineup barring some unforeseen precontest catastrophes in the preparations of the Olympia competitors ahead of him. It would be nice to see Gustavo return to the Olympia physique of years past where he was a top contender. I hope those days are not behind him.
7. Toney Freeman
While I would like to place Toney Freeman higher especially after the amazing comeback with impressive consecutive victories in Tampa and Dallas, my expectations have been moderated by Freeman’s inconsistency and failure to approach the conditioning he achieved in the spring of 2007. The 2008 Tampa Pro and Europa Pro champion lacked the sharpness that first qualified him for the Olympia. The physique he displayed at the 2007 Iron Man Pro was a legitimate top five Olympia-caliber physique. Anything less than that will not earn Toney a higher placing at this year’s Olympia contest.
8. Johnnie Jackson
Johnnie Jackson has been very quiet this year. In previous years, he has taken home his share of pro victories. He clearly has his work cut out for him. Jackson’s best placing (5th) coming at the very first show on the 2008 IFBB calendar – the Iron Man Pro in February – where he qualified for this year’s Olympia. Most of the Olympia athletes he is competing against have place ahead of Jackson in recent contests.
But there have been subtle signs to suggest Johnnie will surprise everyone when he steps on stage in Las Vegas for the Olympia. Jackson’s rushed precontest preparations for the 2008 Europa Pro show proved a successful step placing him on track to peak at the Olympia September. Only a few weeks prior to the Europa, Jackson was in full off-season mode setting world records in a national powerlifting meet.
Johnnie has been working harder and more intensely than ever getting ready the 2008 Mr. Olympia. In spite of the precontest demands he is placing on his body, Jackson’s mood is more positive and confident than I’ve seen before previous shows. His happiness is due in no small part to the upcoming birth of a daughter in December/January. Far from becoming complacent, it’s provided Johnnie with the extra motivation to succeed in the sport of bodybuilding and provide for his family.
9. Dennis James
Dennis James made his return to competitive bodybuilding in Tampa a few weeks ago after an extended hiatus. He was literally a shadow of his former self, arriving with a purposely smaller physique. But this was a very good thing! He looked much better at the lower bodyweight according to practically every account.
The judges rewarded James as the first runner-up to Toney Freeman at both the 2008 Tampa Pro and 2008 Europa pro shows and deservedly so. Yet, James was extremely disappointed, to say the least, with his placing. Freeman did not display the requisite Olympia-caliber sharpness and conditioning at these shows and neither did Dennis James.
Dennis James (and Toney Freeman as well) could very well place a few spots higher than listed. But I am reluctant to make such predictions given the unpredictability of their conditioning.
10. David Henry
David Henry has always and consistently been in top shape when he steps on a bodybuilding stage, much like Dexter Jackson and Silvio Samuel. That is, up until earlier this year when he competed in Los Angeles at the Iron Man. For the first time, he was off – really off. But I think Dave has proved that that was an aberration. His subsequent appearances, particularly at the Tampa Pro, revealed he is back. I think Dave Henry will break the top 10 at the Olympia again this year.