The Muscletime Team unanimously picked Victor Martinez to win the 2008 Arnold Classic prior to a knee injury taking him out of the contest. Without Victor in the line up, there is a lot of room for someone to make some noise! We bold make our predictions for the 2008 Arnold Classic:
1. Kai Greene – We saw Kai Greene win his first professional bodybuilding contest last year at the 2007 Colorado Pro Show where he qualified for his first Mr. Olympia appearance. Kai elected to skip the Olympia and focus on adding additional muscle size for the 2008 season. We saw him bulk up throughout the summer reaching 300 lbs in the off season; at the 2007 Europa Pro show and 2007 Olympia weekend, he was maintaining well above 280 lbs.
Kai’s posing ability is a huge bonus. He is arguably one of the best posers in the history of professional bodybuilding; if you have not seen his posing routines, they are “out of this world.” And unlike many competitors, Kai does not use the same routine year in, year out; he often has a completely new routine for every show.
The key for Kai at the Arnold Classic is to achieve the same unreal conditioning he had onstage in 2007 but bring in a physique with additional muscle mass. If he competes really shredded, he can win the show if Dexter Jackson and Phil Heath are not “spot on”!
2. Dexter Jackson – Dexter is Mr. Consistency; he is always in great condition but the year-to-year improvements have been minor especially when compared to many of the up and coming bodybuilders that have joined the pro ranks. Dexter was clearly overlooked at the 2007 Olympia when all the discussion revolved around whether Jay Cutler, Victor Martinez or Dennis Wolf really deserved to win the show.
Unfortunately, consistently presenting one of the best physiques on stage is not enough for Dexter. Fans (and judges) are looking to be impressed with noticeable gains and progress from previous years. If Dexter fails to improve upon the 2007 version of Dexter Jackson, Phil Heath or Kai Greene will likely place ahead of him especially if they show significant improvements from 2007.
3. Phil Heath – We think Phil Heath is the most feared bodybuilder to take the stage at Columbus. The video and photos of Phil Heath reveal some impressive precontest size evoking images of comic book hero muscularity and proportions. But the big question is whether or not he can come in really hard? He needs to dial it in 100% this time.
Although Phil has qualified for the past two Olympias, he has chosen to skip both the 2006 and 2007 Mr. Olympia contests. We feel this was a mistake given his limited contest experience at the professional level. He has only competed once in the past 18 months and his presentation at the 2007 Arnold Classic disappointed. He has yet to match his conditioning that he achieved at the 2006 Shawn Ray Colorado Pro show.
But if Phil is able to step on stage with an additional 10-15 lbs of muscle and match or exceed his conditioning a la 2006 Colorado, he will be hard to
4. Silvio Samuel – The judges really like Silvio. He is always in condition but his decision to compete in practically ever pro show during the 2007 season probably prevented him from making the same dramatic improvements as fellow competitors who have not competed as frequently. Silvio is always in shape and his physique shows a unique hardness and thickness likely resulting from his Olympic lifting base established early in his career.
Silvio will be in the top 6 again but we do not expect to see dramatic improvements from 2007.
5. Melvin Anthony – Melvin has proven to be a good competitor lately with top 6 placing at the Olympia. Just a little improvement from his Olympia conditioning could bump Melvin up to the top three but that will only happen if some of the competitors above falter.
6. Gustavo Badell – Gustavo is incredibly focused and one of the more disciplined bodybuilders in the sport. He planned his shows for the 2008 pro season immediately after the 2007 Mr. Olympia. He allowed 5 months preparation for the 2008 Iron Man Pro and the 2008 Arnold Classic with another 5 months to prepare for the fall shows on the 2008 pro schedule including the Mr. Olympia.
Gustavo needs to return to the rock hard condition of 2004 and 2005 Olympia showings. If he does he could be top 3 but if his conditioning isn’t on par with the competitors above, it will be difficult to place higher.
7. Desmond Miller – We’ve seen Desmond frequently at the MET-Rx booth at the past several shows, but it has been a long time since we’ve seen him on stage. But when we saw him onstage last spring, particularly at the 2007 Keystone Classic in Pennsylvania, he was impressive. He has some of the best legs in bodybuilding; the big question for Desmond is whether he was able to make significant improvements to his upper body to match the spectacular muscular development in his legs. He could be a big surprise this year – it remains to be seen!
8. Ronny Rockel – Great physique! But he needs to come in really hard to place higher. Even that may not be enough if others are spot on.
9. Johnnie Jackson – Johnnie packed on some impressive muscle mass and thickness during the 2007 pro season with improved sweep to his legs. Johnnie has not always been consistent in his presentation. Will he be rock hard? Johnnie is still making big improvements every year. The only challenge we see for Johnnie is his consistency – which Johnnie Jackson will show up at the Arnold?
10. Toney Freeman – Toney Freeman was great last year at the 2007 Iron Man and the 2007 Arnold. But he did poorly at the 2007 Mr. Olympia. Was the 2007 Olympia a fluke due to illness? Could his prime competitive years be behind him? The first few shows of 2008 will likely provide the answer.
11. David Henry – Dave was 10th at the 2007 Mr. Olympia. He needs to be in shape for a top 10 placing in Columbus too. This is a deep field of competitors.
12. Branch Warren – Branch has not able to show the same condition that was on display when he won the 2005 Charlotte Pro and the 2005 Europa Pro. It has been a very long time since we’ve seen Branch at his most impressive. He needs to go back to the conditioning of 2005 and forget about size for now.
13. Deshaun Grimes – This is Deshaun’s debut appearance at a pro bodybuilding competition. He won the heavyweight division at the 2007 NPC USA championship to earn his pro card but losing out on the overall to Ben White. He is not quite ready to compete with experienced pros just yet. However, it is good to gain experience at the pro level.
14. Adorthus Cherry – Like Deshaun Grimes, this is Adorthus’ first pro show; and similarly he earned his pro card at the 2007 NPC Nationals by winning the Heavyweight division but missing out on the overall victory to Evan Centopani. The pro bodybuilding experience is a valuable lesson but being competitive on stage will require several months, years of consistent training to compete at this level.
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