Veteran bodybuilding coach Chris Aceto led Andrew Jacked to third place at the 2023 Arnold Classic behind Nick Walker and Samson Dauda. In a recent interview with RxMuscle, Aceto discussed how Samson Dauda won the show with a perfect score against Nick Walker‘s ‘lights out conditioning.’
The Arnold Classic took place just over a week ago in Columbus, Ohio. While some fans worried about the sparse lineup initially, those concerns were put to bed after the organizers increased the Men’s Open prize money to $300,000. Nick Walker, Andrew Jacked, Patrick Moore, and Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay joined the event with the intention of solidifying their status as a top 2023 Mr. Olympia contender.
Even though Walker brought more conditioning to the finals, he was denied a second Arnold Classic title by Dauda. Since the outcome, many fans deemed Dauda’s victory controversial. This prompted athletes’ rep Bob Cicherillo to discuss the matter on two recent Voice of Bodybuilding podcasts.
He explained that despite a perfect scorecard, Dauda was never winning unanimously amongst the judges. Moreover, he suggested that ‘The Mutant’ should have placed third instead of second, mostly due to a lack of proportions and symmetry. Given the fan backlash, Walker recently urged others to keep the dialogue surrounding the results respectful. Chris Aceto is the latest industry expert to give his opinion on the 35th Arnold Classic.
Chris Aceto on 2023 Arnold Classic: ‘Scores Are Kind of Phony’
Speaking with Dave Palumbo, Aceto broke down his interpretation of the judging at the 2023 Arnold Classic.
“It boils down to this: who do you look at longer? That’s the winner. That is the winner. If people go shot by shot – you can win shots and blah blah. It’s who you generally in the prejudging your eyes are on longer. That is a judge’s gut feel for who is best in the lineup.”
“It’s not the guy with the best front double, it’s not the guy with the best front lat, it’s not the guy who won this shot and that shot, it’s generally, who your eyes go back to in most of the time, they go back to what is most attractive to you, meaning what impresses you the most. The intangible. It’s not shot for shot necessarily, I have this guy on four shots, this guy has three shots – it’s also the lineup. Who is in that lineup dictates who your eyes go back to.”
Aceto believes the contrast in body types contributed to Nick Walker’s loss to Samson Dauda. He also mentioned that Walker lacked the balance and symmetry displayed by ‘The Nigerian Lion.’
“What’s confusing about this show, is you had two NBA guys with a lot of muscle and condition against Nick. There’s a contract. You don’t have to but there’s a contrast. That contrast is very different Nick versus Hadi, Nick versus Derek Lunsford, I think Nick is taller than those guys. So, they’re even shorter. It creates a lot different dynamics in the lineup, I think.”
“You have to have good symmetry to win,” added Aceto. “It’s not a symmetry contest, it still comes down to muscularity, is you know, usually the headlining attraction for a judge. Muscularity, which is condition and size. And yes, you got to have balance. You can’t be up there looking like shit on a stick, ripped to the bone, crazy big, but a gross physique. You’re going to end up sixth, eighth, ninth — whatever, you’re just not going to be in the running.”
According to Chris Aceto, the ‘scores are kind of phony’ because the scorecards made it seem like Dauda dominated with a slam dunk.
The litmus test is, where do your eyes go back to? You look at one, you look at the other, you’re not sure. It’s probably where the eyes return to. That is the gut feel by the judge to like, ‘okay, this is the guy I’m going to have in first.’ With regards to the scores, this unanimous stuff, I’ve said this on the show a million times, the scores are kind of phony.
They don’t represent who was where, where was who. Yes Samson got like straight firsts, but that doesn’t mean that judge A Chris Aceto sitting in the judging didn’t think it was remarkably close between him and Nick or him and Andrew let’s say. At the end, I went with Samson. On paper it looks like it was a slam dunk, lights out first for Samson, always from prejudging right to the end of finals and I don’t think that was the case at all, especially in prejudging.
Aceto Explains How Ramy Lost to Walker
While Aceto admitted Ramy was the most muscular man on stage, he thought Walker’s conditioning was a step above Elssbiay’s.
“If you measure his weight, size, shoulder width, he’s the most muscular guy on stage. At that show, when you put him next to the other three guys, you asked about Nick — it’s really really good conditioning versus power outage condition, lights out condition. Nick had at the night show, lights out condition. He was in really good condition. Really good in prejudging, he was lights out at the night show.”
Aceto Says Nick Walker Beats Samson Dauda 1v1: ‘It’s Just the Way it Unfolded,’ ‘He Looked Like the Odd Guy Out’
Despite Dauda claiming gold, Aceto wasn’t convinced he would defeat Nick Walker in a one-on-one battle. He mentioned that having two taller bodies next to Walker affected the results.
“He doesn’t. He [Samson Dauda] does not [beat Nick Walker]. Dave, you had the best question of the show, he doesn’t. I think Nick one on one, can beat Samson one on one. The most shocking part of prejudging for me is when they had the final three: Nick, Samson, Andrew are being compared because it’s odd that Nick looked like the – it’s not a negative. He looked like the odd guy out.”
“He couldn’t overpower them. If it was him versus Derek, I think he’d be able to overpower Derek on some shots, side chest, side triceps, he’s against Samson, he’s against Andrew, first pose he’s already in third,” Aceto explained. “It’s just the way it unfolded.”
Dauda’s coach, Milos Sarcev, also gave his thoughts on the outcome. Sarcev believes Nick Walker’s legs lacked the same volume as Olympia, making his lower and upper body appear unbalanced. With 2023 Olympia on the horizon, Sarcev said Dauda has the potential to defeat the new champion Hadi Choopan or runner-up Derek Lunsford later this year.
Moving forward, Aceto is confident Andrew Jacked will contend for the Mr. Olympia title in his sophomore appearance. Since he placed outside of the top five last year, Jacked will need to earn an invite by winning a pro show.