A stacked Men’s Open lineup will light up the 2023 Mr. Olympia stage in less than two month’s time. In the headlining act, reigning champion Hadi Choopan will look to thwart a number of hungry contenders eager to take his throne. In a recent Prime Time Muscle podcast, Chris Cormier and Olympia judge Terrick El Guindy examined the backs of Derek Lunsford and Choopan six weeks from the big show.
The 2022 Mr. Olympia event last December was full of shocks, upsets, and memorable bodybuilding moments. Perhaps the most notable was Hadi Choopan’s monumental victory, which he accomplished against a murderers’ row of Men’s Open contenders.
In order to raise gold above his head, Choopan not only had to dethrone the former two-time titleholder Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay (finished fifth) — but he also had to crush the dreams of his teammate, former 212 Olympia Derek Lunsford, who claimed the runner-up position.
In the aftermath of 2022 Mr. Olympia, heated arguments were had over Choopan’s victory, as many in the community thought Lunsford presented a more complete and detailed back. Even bodybuilding legend Flex Wheeler scrutinized the outcome, suggesting that shows “aren’t won from the back anymore”.
With the biggest show of the year approaching, Cormier and El Guindy examined the physiques, and especially the backs of the two leading candidates likely to take home the Sandow trophy from November 2-5 in Orlando, Florida.
Chris Cormier and Terrick El Guindy Discuss Hadi Choopan, Derek Lunsford Weeks Before 2023 Olympia
El Guindy believes Choopan poses with more conviction than anyone else in the Open class. From work ethic to muscularity and conditioning, Cormier and El Guindy agree he’s a well-rounded champion.
“Nobody hits the poses better than Hadi. He’s got muscularity, he’s got conditioning, he’s got the good lines, he’s got everything. He is a Mr. Olympia,” shared Terrick El Guindy.
“Hadi never stops. Like, he went straight back to work once he finished the parade when he came home. Once he finished the parade, I think Hadi is back in it. I’ve been in the Middle East. I know when you body-build, that’s what you do. And that’s what he does on a continuous basis is body-build train, and prepare for the Olympia again,” said Chris Cormier.
“Yes [he could have been more conditioned], especially from the back. To me, I thought Derek was the better bodybuilder from the back this past year. I thought he – Hadi, just had the maturity and he’s been up there battling the big guys for a few years now. He’s been in the top three, he’s had people thinking he should have won years ago when he was placing all those years [behind them].”
As for back poses, El Guindy argued Lunsford’s back double bicep is “as good as it gets” whereas Choopan’s back lat spread is more competitive due to “The Persian Wolf’s” thickness and density.
As for back poses, El Guindy believes Lunsford’s back double biceps “is as good as it gets” whereas Hadi Choopan is more competitive in the back lat spread due to his thickness and density.
“In the back double biceps, Derek Lunsford is as good as it gets. In the back lat spread, it was closer but I thought Hadi Choopan had a little bit more thickness,” said El Guindy.
“I know what happened and what happened was a convincing victory by Hadi Choopan. I voted for him first at prejudging; I voted for him at finals. Some judges disagreed with me they thought that Derek was better than Hadi at prejudging and then they went with Hadi at the finals. It’s close… but in my personal opinion, Hadi Choopan convincingly won the 2022 Mr. Olympia.”
“The Real Deal” Likens Derek Lunsford to Mike Tyson, Says He Will Win 2023 Olympia, “He’s The Younger Puncher”
Given that youth and time are on the side of the challenger, Cormier predicted Lunsford would win the title in November.
“Lunsford [is winning the 2023 Mr. Olympia]. I just think he’s the younger puncher, he’s the Mike Tyson coming up, there was the ones before Mike Tyson that he just came and knocked them out. I think he’s going to be way more improved than last year.
No knock on my man Hadi, I love Hadi to death. I love you Hadi. I’m just saying dog, you already got your flowers. I just think the young guy is going to come up and he’s going to be vastly improved from last year and I think he’s going to go for it,” Cormier explained.
Chris Cormier hasn’t been the only bodybuilding veteran to pick Lunsford over Choopan for the title. Over the last few months, former eight-time Mr. Olympia kingpin Ronnie Coleman backed Lunsford as well as 1983 Olympia winner Samir Bannout. With looming threats like Samson Dauda, Nick Walker, and Brandon Curry all after the same prize, the Open class is arguably the most exciting it’s been in years.
Fans look forward to seeing if Derek Lunsford can make history and become the sport’s first two-division Mr. Olympia champion. However, toppling Hadi Choopan will be no easy feat considering the reigning titleholder’s dedication and love for training.