Having almost nailed down a Mr. Olympia title, Branch Warren has learned a thing or two about bodybuilding over the years. The two-time Arnold Classic winner was no stranger to the Men’s Open class during his tenure. In his latest venture on YouTube, Warren joined Ron Harris to discuss Derek Lunsford‘s 2023 Mr. Olympia victory against Hadi Choopan last weekend in Orlando, Florida.
The bodybuilding world changed forever on Saturday, November 4. Former 212 Olympia Derek Lunsford seized the Open Mr. Olympia crown on his second attempt. This achievement established him as the sport’s first two-division Mr. Olympia champion. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he also bagged the Olympia People’s Champ Award.
While it’s supposed to be a time of celebration for Lunsford, instead, he and his family have received death threats following his victory. His Instagram account was also shut down twice in 24 hours. He and Choopan have made amends, yet fans of the sport continue to argue about the show’s outcome online.
With controversy weighing heavy on the bodybuilding community, Branch Warren was the latest figure to assess the aftermath. He gave his thoughts on the results and talked about if and how soon Samson Dauda could become the next Mr. Olympia.
“I Agree With Derek Winning” – Branch Warren Reflects on 2023 Mr. Olympia Controversy
According to Branch Warren, he thought Choopan looked flat during the finals whereas Derek Lunsford looked improved from prejudging.
“So Friday night, I thought Hadi had it by a very slim margin. I thought he looked better, a little tighter, I thought he was on point. I think when I went to the show Saturday, as soon as I came out, I went, ‘You know what, Derek looks a lot better.’
In my opinion, I think Hadi flattened just a little bit, maybe he didn’t eat enough or something, I don’t think he was watery, but I just don’t think he was quite as full as he was on Friday and I think that was the difference. I think it was a razor-thin margin. I agree with Derek winning.
Even though Lunsford has weaknesses, Warren explained that his “overall package” including conditioning and shape led to his victory.
“From the back, he’s got the best back double biceps in the business. From the front, he’s got some weaknesses, Hadi’s got a better chest and better legs I think but overall, the overall package, conditioning, shape, and everything, I think Derek won by the skin of his teeth and I agreed with it, so,” said Branch Warren.
“I think as bodybuilding fans go, they want the best person to win. I mean, I’ve seen all races and nationalities across the world win the Arnold and the Olympia over the years and the crowd gets behind them. If someone deserves to win, the crowd gets behind them no matter who they are. They want to see freaks and they want to see the best person win.And sometimes it’s a close call like it was this weekend between Derek and Hadi and I mean if Hadi would have won, I get it. You could definitely argue that case and I’m one of those people that can… I get it, it was that close. Sometimes there’s just cases when somebody stands out and blows everybody off the stage but I never once in my 36 years of the sport heard the judges talk about where somebody is from or the nationality, nothing like that, nobody really cares,” explains Warren.
Warren Lays Out How Samson Dauda Can Win The Olympia: “He Just Needs to Be Hard”
Warren believes Samson Dauda has the genetic gifts to dominate atop the Mr. Olympia throne for years. However, he says that won’t happen until ‘The Nigerian Lion’ can achieve “grainy paper-thin skin.”
“He needs to get hard by hard I mean striated glutes. That grainy paper-thin skin, if he can do that, he’s the champ for years. Right now, Hadi and Derek can beat him, but if he had Derek’s conditioning or Hadi’s conditioning, he wins.”“With his structure, his size, he’s 290 pounds or something on stage. If he can get hard, nobody touches him for a while. I don’t see who can actually beat him for a minute if he can get hard because he’s got that overwhelming size and good shape and those big full muscle bellies, and he’s just imposing,” said Warren. “My eyes kept going to him.”“He’s already third and he’s not that hard. He doesn’t need to be as hard as Derek or Hadi, but he just needs to be hard.”