Five weeks before the 2023 Arnold Classic, bodybuilding veteran Dennis James discussed the competition. Talking with Milos Sarcev, James explained how former two-time Olympia Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay could pull off the victory in Columbus, Ohio.
“He [Ramy] would have won the Olympia. I still believe that. This is just me saying because this is what I saw,” Dennis James said.
When the curtains closed on the 2022 Mr. Olympia contest, Hadi Choopan was crowned the new champion. In a surprising turn of events, Big Ramy was dethroned and finished fifth. Since losing his title, Ramy has promised a better physique at his next show.
Veterans of the sport have voiced their opinions on why Ramy came up short in Las Vegas. Dennis James, a training partner of Elssbiay, mentioned that he was on track to look his best a few weeks out from the contest. By the time pre-judging was underway, however, James said Ramy appeared flat.
IFBB head judge Steve Weinberger also chimed in on Ramy’s historic drop to fifth place. In an Olympia TV interview, he underlined that the version fans saw ‘wasn’t the Ramy we all know.’ Weinberger suspected that the former champion might have been dealing with injuries on stage.
Some have argued that Ramy wasn’t given a fair shake at 2022 Olympia, like Zack Khan, who said judges didn’t offer Ramy the chance to fight for his title. With the 2023 Arnold Classic set to take place soon, James laid out how Ramy could win his first Arnold Classic title.
Milos Sarcev and Dennis James Discuss Nick Walker and Big Ramy 5 Weeks From 2023 Arnold Classic
James and Sarcev named a few frontrunners they believe are likely to win the event.
“We got a stacked lineup right now. So, it’s time, we got what – five weeks, six weeks,” Dennis James said. “We got a stacked lineup. At first, we thought it was just Samson Dauda by himself basically. Now, Samson has got some competition in Nick Walker. Kamal Elgargni, Andrew Jacked, Big Ramy.”
“Big Ramy slipped from first from fifth and Nick Walker is the third-highest placing, so obviously going into the Arnold, you would assume the highest-placing Olympian would be the first favorite but how do you ignore Big Ramy who was a two-time champion. Okay, he slipped a little bit but assuming he’s going to be in better condition,” Milos Sarcev said.
The Arnold organizers recently upped the ante to entice more competitors to enter the show. They increased the prize money to a record $300,000, which prompted Nick Walker, Andrew Jacked, Patrick Moore, and Big Ramy to jump in.
“People still want to see a freak show,” shared Dennis James. “Right now, we got to deal with what we have. And when we look at the Open today, and I know, because Ramy jumped in, a lot of people said, ‘oh he’s not going to beat these guys.’ Listen, I’ll say this and this is all I’m going to say. I heard it just like you did that he was going to jump in. I didn’t know he was going to jump in.”
In James’ opinion, Ramy has the potential to win the Arnold Classic if he fills out his physique and brings the ‘right’ conditioning.
“All I’m saying if he’s going to look like he looked leading up to the Olympia five days out — I don’t see why he shouldn’t win the Arnold,” says James.
“Listen, all I’m saying is if he can put that weight back on and he fills out like he was and the conditioning is right. He’s battling with one guy then and that’s Samson Dauda,” James said. “I gave you my opinion what it was. I thought he was flat and because he was flat, his condition was off.”
Dennis James isn’t the only bodybuilding veteran backing Big Ramy ahead of the show. Four-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler called Nick Walker the clear favorite but stated Ramy at ‘100% beats anybody.’ In the same interview, Milos Sarcev explained why Samson Dauda’s shape will guide him to success on the Arnold stage.
This event will serve as Ramy’s first Arnold Classic competition since 2020, where he finished third. If the 38-year-old secures the victory, it will kick start his journey back to Olympia title contention in November.