The 2023 Arnold Classic took place last weekend and crowned seven champions. While recapping the Men’s Open contest, event commentator Bob Cicherillo defended the judging and said Nick Walker deserved to finish third behind Andrew Jacked.
This year’s Arnold Classic competition set the tone for the rest of the 2023 bodybuilding schedule. At the event, the Men’s Open division saw three names assert themselves as title contenders: Andrew Jacked, Nick Walker, and Samson Dauda. They battled in the prejudging and finals to determine who would claim the second-most coveted prize in bodybuilding.
Considering the different body types displayed on stage, judges were in for a difficult night of comparisons. Despite his status as a heavy favorite before competing, Nick Walker landed in second behind Samson Dauda. As with most bodybuilding contests, fans and veterans of the sport found the results controversial.
Earlier this week, former Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout was perplexed by Samson Dauda’s perfect score at the 2023 Arnold Classic. He specified that based on quality alone, Nick Walker should have won the contest. Given the outcome, Bannout suggested judges are now favoring balance and symmetry over conditioning. To shed some light on the judging and placements, Bob Cicherillo opened up on the event’s results in a recent Voice of Bodybuilding podcast.
Bob Cicherillo Explains Why Samson Dauda Won 2023 Arnold Classic and Fires Back at Judging Criticisms
Cicherillo gave an overview of the judging system used at shows. Typically, seven judges are present at bodybuilding contests, but bigger productions like the Olympia and Arnold Classic use 11.
“The judging criteria is based on a placement system. That means you get a number based on the placing they think you’re in. If you’re in second place, you get a two, if you’re in fourth place, you get a four and so on and so forth. Number two, there’s not seven judges Nick. Once again, we did this last year. There are more than seven judges at the big shows – and they don’t cut out a high and a low, they cut out two highs and two lows. This makes your math completely irrelevant to why you’re trying to achieve here.”
While Bob agrees Samson Dauda was ahead from the ‘onset,’ he said he was never winning ‘across the board with ‘ones’ on the scorecard.
“At the end of the day, it’s the judges’ opinions that count. Even if I take you for what you originally had, it’s wrong, you still don’t have it right. Because Samson Dauda was never winning with across the board ones, this was not a case that we had that it was across the board – it was unanimous. That’s just simply not the case.
I do believe Samson was winning from the prejudging from the onset, I had him winning. I thought it was pretty much one, two, three. Him, Nick and Andrew Jacked were all battling from the start, I think anybody could see that. Ramy was maybe a little bit improved from the Olympia but he was still off,” says Bob Cicherillo.
Cicherillo added that size, symmetry, shape, and proportions were driving factors in the judges’ decision to award Samson Dauda the victory.
“There wasn’t seven judges, two highs, and two lows,” echoed Cicherillo. “Samson comes out and dominates right off the bat because he has a superior physique. Size, symmetry, shape, and proportions, those are the first things that the judges are looking at. That’s why we do the quarter turns, much to Milos Sarcev’s chagrin, there is a round that we do that – and that is the first round of every competition in the pro league.”
“At the Olympia, how could it be that Samson was sixth and Nick was third. First of all, that was three months ago. I mean, what are we talking about here. Different show, different place, different lighting, different judges, and most importantly, different physiques! It doesn’t mean they had the same. They did not bring the same physique.”
Cicherillo Says Nick Walker ‘Brought It Down Too Much,’ Lost Freak Factor at 2023 Arnold Classic
Cicherillo believes ‘The Mutant’ lost some of his freak factor and fullness in the lower body.
“First of all, Nick brought it down way too much, in my opinion. I think he lost some of that freak factor. Nick is not the most symmetrically gifted, I think he’d be the first one to tell you that. He’s very much Branch Warren 2.0. where he’s got a lot of muscle, he comes in great, grainy, gnarly condition and that’s what he brings to the table. I know he was trying to streamline it, but he doesn’t have the kind of physique where you streamline it, it will do better.”
“He lost some of the legs because he trimmed them down. It makes his legs look like they’re a little bit weak in comparison to his upper body. His upper body is tremendous you can’t get around that, some of the best arms in the business currently. But that’s only half the battle.”
Looking back on the contest, Cicherillo thought Andrew Jacked deserved to place ahead of Nick Walker.
“Personally, I had Andrew Jacked in second and I’ll tell you why. Andrew Jacked is closer to Samson in terms of physique, height, weight, proportions, symmetry, all that good stuff, tremendous physique, he looked great. At the end of the day, I would have had him as the runner-up and Nick I would have had him in a solid third but honestly, he’s closer to fourth than he is to first.”
In addition to Cicerillo, bodybuilding coach Milos Sarcev recently assessed Nick Walker’s 2023 Arnold Classic performance. He also believes Walker lost volume in his legs and said it affected his overall package. Moreover, he suspected the 28-year-old ‘sacrificed a little too much’ since his last Olympia.
The 2023 Arnold Classic cemented Samson Dauda as one of the frontrunners heading into Olympia. Fans are excited to see how the next competition plays out between Dauda and Walker, who are both qualified for November’s contest.