It’s that time of the year again. The time when the most muscular, jacked, diced, shredded, and conditioned bodybuilders step on stage in their underwear to earn the bragging right to be called the best bodybuilder in the world for a year.
The 2022 Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend is upon us. Although there are 11 divisions at the Olympia Weekend, Mr. Olympia Men’s Open division is the show’s main attraction. The Open division’s pre-judging is scheduled for Dec. 16 and will happen at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino (Zappos Theater). The finals will go down the next day at the same venue. The pre-judging starts at 6 pm, while the decider will begin at 7 pm.
With 36 elite bodybuilders competing at the 58th edition of the biggest bodybuilding show in the industry, bodybuilding experts and fans alike are expecting the 2022 Mr. Olympia to be the most exciting we have seen in a long time.
The Mr. Olympia showdown is not just a two-day affair. Contrary to what fans think, the offseason for pro bodybuilders who compete at the Olympia is not a vacation. You hardly see them chilling at a beach in Hawaii or downing piña coladas in Puerto Rico.
Mr. Olympia contestants push hard in the gym and kitchen in the off-season to bring their best package to the Super Bowl of bodybuilding. And as the show nears, we see these athletes get their big and thick elbows out.
The two-time Mr. Olympia winner Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay is the reigning Mr. Olympia champ. While the Egyptian bodybuilder will be going in for a three-peat, he will be expecting a fierce fight from other Mr. Olympia aspirants.
2022 Mr. Olympia Predictions
2022 Olympia has a diverse roster. It has veterans like two Mr. Olympia champs, Arnold Classic champs, and even debutants eyeing the top prize in their first attempt.
Without any further ado, here are our top six for the 2022 Mr. Olympia:
6. Hunter Labrada
The Labrada scion qualified for the 2022 Olympia by placing fourth at the 2021 Olympia. The 2020 Tampa Pro champ decided to take the 2022 competitive season off to improve his physique and bring a better package to the Olympia.
Although he did not compete in 2022, Labrada wowed fans with his physique every time he stepped on stage to guest pose. Labrada’s recent Instagram posts prove he is in the best shape of his life. He has gained size while improving his proportions — narrow waist, wide shoulders, and bigger legs.
We see Labrada drop two places not because his physique is not up to the mark but because the competition at the top is so dense this time around.
5. Derek Lunsford
Now, this could raise some eyebrows. Lunsford is the reigning 212 Olympia champ. However, he will not defend his throne at the 2022 Olympia and will instead switch to the Open division.
However, speculations about the 2021 212 Olympia champ jumping over to the Open division were ripe before the official announcement from the Olympia management.
Lunsford stepped on stage at the 2022 Pittsburgh Pro as a surprise guest poser after Big Ramy was missing in action. It’d be safe to say that he gave the Open division competitors Brandon Curry, Nick Walker, and Labrada a run for their money. Can he repeat it on the 2022 Olympia stage? Many experts believe so.
Judging by his recent YouTube videos and Instagram photos, Lunsford is undoubtedly his biggest and most shredded self. He could even upset a few guys above him on this list if they leave the door open for him.
4. Nick Walker
Walker is one of the most dominant competitors in the present pro-bodybuilding scene. He earned his 2021 Olympia qualification by winning the 2021 NY Pro and later conquered the 2021 Arnold Classic. He finished fifth in his rookie year at the Olympia.
Like Labrada, Walker took off the 2022 competitive bodybuilding season to focus on the Olympia. “The Mutant” recently patched up with his long-time coach Matt Jansen, which could improve his placing at the biggest bodybuilding show in the sport.
Experts believe that his new-gained size, muscle maturity, and thickness will not only help him improve his previous year’s performance but can also be enough to unseat Big Ramy if he doesn’t nail his conditioning.
Walker’s recent social media updates show that “The Mutant” already has his game face on. He can be a threat to the podium finishers if he times his peak right.
3. Brandon Curry
In typical Curry style, he has not put out many Olympia prep updates. However, the little he has shared is enough to prove that he is not leaving any stone unturned to push for his second Olympia title.
If Curry can dethrone Big Ramy at the 2022 Olympia, he’ll become the second man after four-time Mr. Olympia champ Jay Cutler to win back the Sandow trophy after losing it.
Furthermore, if Curry prevails over his competition at the 2022 Olympia, he’ll become the first man in the history of the sport to win the Arnold and Olympia in the same year twice.
2. Hadi Choopan
Choopan’s physique updates in recent YouTube videos and Instagram posts earn him second place on our list. He finished third at the 2019 Olympia, fell to fourth at the 2020 Olympia, and regained his lost place to finish third at the 2021 Olympia.
Known for his razor-sharp conditioning, Choopan has been a top contender for a long time. However, experts believe that the Iranian bodybuilder could not bring his best to the stage as he always faced difficulty getting into America. In 2021, he was allowed into the USA a couple of days before the Olympia.
Bodybuilding fans are expecting “The Persian Wolf” to disrupt the Olympia line-up at the 2022 Olympia showdown as he stepped foot on American soil a month in advance. Choopan has been training with his coach Hany Rambod, who is priming him for the best Olympia of his career.
The Persian Wolf will be waiting for the reigning Olympia champ to slip so he can hoist his maiden Sandow trophy.
1. Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay
After going off the radar after his 2021 Olympia win, Big Ramy started posting on social media again a few months before the 2022 Olympia. Nonetheless, the physique he showed off after returning caught many fans, other Olympia competitors, and bodybuilding veterans off guard.
Big Ramy’s physique in his recent Instagram updates shows that he has the muscle mass, size, conditioning, thickness, symmetry, and balance to become the ninth man in the show’s history to win the Olympia title for the third time.
The Sandow trophy is notorious for being loyal to its holder. It is evident by the fact that the Olympia throne has only traded hands 16 times in the show’s 57-year history. Experts believe that you cannot win the Olympia title by beating the reigning champ by a thin margin. The challenger needs to crush the sitting champ to seize the throne. However, as seen in his latest Instagram updates, Big Ramy’s present physique shows that he might be headed to his third Olympia title.
Given the packed line-up, we will see many upsets and surprises at the 2022 Olympia. However, one thing is for sure, the top six, 10, and even 15 will have the fans’ jaws drop when they step on stage.
A confession — We had a hard time picking the top six for the 2022 Mr. Olympia. We can only imagine the difficulty of the task at hand of judges who’ll be scoring the contestants. You definitely don’t want to be in their shoes come Dec. 15.
Since the Mr. Olympia Men’s Open division roster is stacked this year, we had to leave some big names off the list. The four bodybuilders listed below conclude our top 10 predictions for the 2022 Olympia:
William Bonac is a two-time Arnold Classic champ (2018 and 2020). Per Big Ramy’s coach Chad Nicholls, Bonac could defeat the reigning Olympia champs if he brings enough ‘freaky compact muscle’. Bonac is having an incredible 2022 season. He won the 2022 Boston Pro and finished second behind Curry at the 2022 Arnold Classic. The Dutch bodybuilder’s fans will want to see him use this momentum to unseat the reigning champ for his maiden Olympia title.
Michal Krizo is one of the newest members of the IFBB Pro League. He earned his pro card at the 2022 Amateur Olympia Italy and qualified for his maiden Olympia by winning the 2022 EVLS Prague Pro. Due to his monster size, muscle density, and impeccable conditioning, he could be a threat to the top six at the Olympia.
Chinedu Andrew Obiekea, popularly known as Andrew Jacked, has fast entered the upper echelons of pro bodybuilding. The 2022 Arnold Classic UK and 2022 Texas Pro winner’s conditioning, size, symmetry, and balance make him a dark horse in the 2022 Olympia race.
Like fellow competitors Krizo and Andrew Jacked, Blessing Awodibu will make his Olympia debut at the 2022 Olympia Weekend. Awodibu took the pro bodybuilding circuit by storm by winning the 2022 NY Pro and 2022 Indy Pro. “The Boogieman’s” WWE-style trash-talking makes him a crowd favorite, and fans will be on the edge of their seats to watch him go up against archrivals Walker, Krizo, and Iain Valliere.
How We Picked — 2022 Olympia Winner Prediction Criteria
Given below are the criteria we used to arrive at our top six for the 2022 Olympia:
1. Physique Updates
We are one week out of the 2022 Mr. Olympia at the time of writing, and thanks to social media, we have a fair idea of what the athletes will look like on stage.
Per the IFBB rules, Men’s Open division bodybuilders are judged based on their muscle mass, symmetry, quality, and balance. We used the same benchmarks to rate all 2022 Mr. Olympia contenders.
2. Fan Favorites
There is a reason why some pro bodybuilders are fan favorites while others aren’t. The wisdom of crowds works its magic to determine the best bodybuilders in the business.
Furthermore, the Olympia management and judges hand out a People’s Choice Award at every Olympia to honor the most popular bodybuilder. Choopan has been winning this award for the last two years.
3. Previous Performance
Although previous performance is not indicative of future success in pro bodybuilding, recent success shows that a bodybuilder has momentum behind him.
2022 Mr. Olympia Qualified Contestants
Per the official Olympia website, here are the 36 qualified athletes for the 2022 Mr. Olympia:
- Nick Walker (USA)
- Nathan De Asha (UK)
- Mamdouh Elssbiay (Egypt)
- Brandon Curry (USA)
- Hadi Choopan (Iran)
- Hunter Labrada (USA)
- Shaun Clarida (USA)
- Regan Grimes (Canada)
- Samson Dauda (UK)
- Rafael Brandao (Brazil)
- Angel Calderon Frias (Spain)
- Joel Thomas (USA)
- William Bonac (Netherlands)
- Blessing Awodibu (Ireland)
- Charles Griffen (USA)
- Mohamed Shabaan (Egypt)
- Hassan Mostafa (Egypt)
- Mohammad Alnsoor (Jordan)
- Vitor Boff (Brazil)
- Andrea Presti (Italy)
- Iain Valliere (Canada)
- Antoine Vaillant (Canada)
- Akim Williams (USA)
- Chinedu Andrew Obiekea [Andrew Jacked] (USA)
- Vladyslav Sukhoruchko (Ukraine)
- Derek Lunsford (USA)
- Patrick Johnson (Denmark)
- Tonio Burton (USA)
- James Hollingshead (UK)
- Michal Krizanek (Slovakia)
- Leandro Peres (Brazil)
- Theo Leguerrier (France)
- Behrooz Tabani Abarghani (Iran)
- Justin Rodriguez (USA)
- Andrea Muzi (Italy)
- Steve Kuclo (USA)
Are you confused about how these athletes qualified for the 2022 Olympia? Read our detailed guide on how the 2022 Olympia Qualification System (OQS) works.
Bodybuilders That Will Not Compete at the 2022 Olympia
Despite qualifying for the 2022 Olympia, some bodybuilders will not be competing for the coveted Sandow trophy.
2020 212 Olympia champ Shaun Claria qualified for the 2022 Olympia Men’s Open division by winning the 2021 Legion Sports Fest Pro. However, after much speculation, Claria clarified that he’ll compete in the 212 division to recapture his 212 Olympia throne.
Nathan De Asha is out of the 2022 Olympia after suffering a second biceps tear in the same year. Regan Grimes will be watching the fight for the Olympia throne from the sidelines, and Steve Kuclo, who qualified for the Olympia on points, will put his Olympia ambitions on the back burner as he wants to start a family.
2022 Mr. Olympia Schedule
- 12/16/2022 — Mr. Olympia Pre-Judging starts at 6:00 p.m.
- 12/17/2022 — Mr. Olympia Finals start at 7:00 p.m.
Mr. Olympia Winners
You can check the full Mr. Olympia history here!
|2021||Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay||Orlando, FL|
|2020||Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay||Orlando, FL|
|2019||Brandon Curry||Las Vegas, NV|
|2018||Shawn Rhoden||Las Vegas, NV|
|2017||Phil Heath||Las Vegas, NV|
|2016||Phil Heath||Las Vegas, NV|
|2015||Phil Heath||Las Vegas, NV|
|2014||Phil Heath||Las Vegas, NV|
|2013||Phil Heath||Las Vegas, NV|
|2012||Phil Heath||Las Vegas, NV|
|2011||Phil Heath||Las Vegas, NV|
|2010||Jay Cutler||Las Vegas, NV|
|2009||Jay Cutler||Las Vegas, NV|
|2008||Dexter Jackson||Las Vegas, NV|
|2007||Jay Cutler||Las Vegas, NV|
|2006||Jay Cutler||Las Vegas, NV|
|2005||Ronnie Coleman||Las Vegas, NV|
|2004||Ronnie Coleman||Las Vegas, NV|
|2003||Ronnie Coleman||Las Vegas, NV|
|2002||Ronnie Coleman||Las Vegas, NV|
|2001||Ronnie Coleman||Las Vegas, NV|
|2000||Ronnie Coleman||Las Vegas, NV|
|1999||Ronnie Coleman||Las Vegas, NV|
|1998||Ronnie Coleman||New York, NY|
|1997||Dorian Yates||Los Angeles, CA|
|1996||Dorian Yates||Chicago, IL|
|1995||Dorian Yates||Atlanta, GA|
|1994||Dorian Yates||Atlanta, GA|
|1993||Dorian Yates||Atlanta, GA|
|1992||Dorian Yates||Helsinki, Finland|
|1991||Lee Haney||Orlando, FL|
|1990||Lee Haney||Chicago, IL|
|1989||Lee Haney||Rimini, Italy|
|1988||Lee Haney||Los Angeles, CA|
|1987||Lee Haney||Gothenburg, Sweden|
|1986||Lee Haney||Columbus, OH|
|1985||Lee Haney||Brussels, Belgium|
|1984||Lee Haney||New York, NY|
|1983||Samir Bannout||Munich, Germany|
|1982||Chris Dickerson||London, England|
|1981||Franco Columbu||Columbus, OH|
|1980||Arnold Schwarzenegger||Sydney, Australia|
|1979||Frank Zane||Columbus, OH|
|1978||Frank Zane||Columbus, OH|
|1977||Frank Zane||Columbus, OH|
|1976||Franco Columbu||Columbus, OH|
|1975||Arnold Schwarzenegger||Pretoria, South Africa|
|1974||Arnold Schwarzenegger||New York, NY|
|1973||Arnold Schwarzenegger||New York, NY|
|1972||Arnold Schwarzenegger||Essen, Germany|
|1971||Arnold Schwarzenegger||Paris France|
|1970||Arnold Schwarzenegger||New York, NY|
|1969||Sergio Oliva||New York, NY|
|1968||Sergio Oliva||New York, NY|
|1967||Sergio Oliva||New York, NY|
|1966||Larry Scott||New York, NY|
|1965||Larry Scott||New York, NY|
Besides a stacked roster and show-packed event, bodybuilding fans are excited for the 2022 Olympia as it is returning to its home in Las Vegas, NV, after two years.
Athletes and fans alike will be on the edge of their seats throughout the Olympia Weekend. Will Big Ramy match the records of bodybuilding legends Frank Zane and Sergio Oliva by winning his third Olympia title, or will we get a 17th Mr. Olympia winner? Only time will tell.
If you cannot make it to Las Vegas for the Olympia Weekend, you can catch the live action on the Olympia Productions website on pay-per-view for a pre-order price of $59.99. Alternatively, you can tune in to Fitness Volt for the latest 2022 Olympia updates and coverage.