Bodybuilding legend Jay Cutler is back to discuss frontrunners headed to this year’s 2023 Mr. Olympia contest in November. In a recent Cutler Cast Podcast, Cutler compared the physiques of Samson Dauda and Derek Lunsford six weeks from the big show. He also gave his thoughts on Regan Grimes’ controversial victory over Nathan De Asha at the 2023 Europa Pro Championships.
Last year, a new Men’s Open hierarchy was established with Hadi Choopan’s Mr. Olympia victory in Las Vegas. The night was filled with surprising moments, from runner-up Derek Lunsford’s jaw-dropping front relaxed pose in prejudging to former two-time titleholder Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay finishing in fifth place.
Samson Dauda, on the other hand, claimed the sixth-place position at the 2022 Olympia, which served as his debut. Known for making massive strides from contest to contest, Dauda entered and won the 2023 Arnold Classic in March against finalists Nick Walker and Andrew Jacked.
In light of “The Nigerian Lion’s” victory, veterans of the sport have labeled him alongside Lunsford, equal threats to Choopan’s title in November. The latest figurehead of bodybuilding to discuss the impending Olympia showdown is former four-time champion Jay Cutler.
Jay Cutler Talks 2023 Mr. Olympia, Says Derek Lunsford’s Back ‘Gives Him an Extra Step Ahead’
According to Cutler, Choopan won last year’s Olympia with the “best overall package.”
“Hadi winning the Olympia last year… people still were like, ‘Oh his back wasn’t what it used to be!’ Dude, who cares? It was the best overall package. In my opinion, he looked better like that than he did the other three years,” said Cutler.
“Hadi is looking impressive isn’t he?”
Cutler believes that Dauda and Lunsford are the top contenders to dethrone Choopan this year.
“Derek, Derek is so wow from behind. He’s so improved. He’s on a run right now… he’s going to be very very hard to beat this year,” said Cutler. “Here, we were saying he should have done the Arnold right? But he put himself – I’m sitting here saying now, he did everything he could to be in the driver’s seat. I think Samson did too.”
Looking at Dauda and Lunsford head-to-head, Cutler was confident in the former 212 champ’s dominant back poses.
“He can beat Samson because no one is going to beat him in the front double, that waist, just that whole look. The back shots… come on. How are you going to compete against that? That’s three poses right there. That back double — it’s just so far from everyone else’s in my opinion. That gives him like an extra step ahead, do you understand? Pose for pose, I think he gains like two or three poses just because of the back, the back double, it’s just gnarly, right?”
“If it’s front double, rear double, rear lat spread, I’m going to give Derek two poses that don’t exist because the back double is just going to make two more poses forward. That’s the way I see it,” shared Cutler. “Once again, we’re giving him so much credit and Hadi is Mr. Olympia, it’s kind of so disrespectful.”
“I don’t know, you have to look at it, what it would do to his [Hadi Choopan] aesthetics. Bigger is not always better. I don’t know on that frame… can he put on more size?”
Cutler Discusses ‘Old School’ Work Ethic and De Asha vs Grimes Spain Controversy
Having watched the sport change for decades, Cutler believes work ethic has fallen off with the advancement of social media and cell phones.
“The whole balance of eating, training, sleeping, secluding yourself, less social atmospheres, don’t do the things that are going to deviate from what the ultimate goal is. Today, it’s a different era with social media. Remember, taking your phone into the gym and taking a video in between your set, that’s throwing your mind off. That’s something we didn’t have.”
“The old-school was definitely a lot more focused. There’s going to be 20 guys qualified or 21, all those guys are bringing phones inside the gym.”
As for the 2023 Europa Pro Championships, Cutler said De Asha’s “maturity, his density, his experience, and his aggressiveness” gave him the edge over Grimes even though he didn’t win on the scorecards.
“I think Nathan has a better shot [at Olympia than Grimes] because I feel his maturity, his density, his experience, his aggressiveness, yes. I mean, the list goes on and on. Then, people are going to question, ‘Well, Jay why did Regan win?’ And I think it’s an opinion. This is what the judging. You said it wasn’t a blowout.”
“We go back to Samson winning the Arnold, was he the most conditioned guy in the contest, he just had the best overall balanced package, everything. We can argue every time someone wins, very rarely is there an argument, everyone always has an opinion right?”
Cutler wasn’t the only face of bodybuilding to take a closer look at the recent Europa Pro outcome. Athletes rep Bob Cicherillo gave his thoughts on the matter, calling the match a ‘coin flip.’ Overall, Cicherillo stressed that he didn’t have a problem with either competitor winning given how close the show was.
With less than two months until the biggest event in the sport takes over Orlando, Florida, Cutler expects great performances from Derek Lunsford and Samson Dauda. However, he is not dismissing any contender as a viable threat.