Jay Cutler continues to oversee the Men’s Open division, which served as his proving grounds following an illustrious career. In a recent Cutler Cast Podcast, Cutler examined the physiques of top talents Hassan Mostafa and Blessing Awodibu. Then, he joined Milos Sarcev for an honest discussion about athletes who live like bodybuilders but refuse to enter contests.
Making a name in the Open class has arguably never been more difficult. To reach the sport’s most-coveted throne, athletes must present a perfect combination of mass, conditioning, and balance on stage. There are still a number of athletes who have yet to earn their invites to 2023 Mr. Olympia – the biggest show of the year. Two of which are Blessing Awodibu and Hassan Mostafa.
Last year, Awodibu turned in a career-best season. This campaign saw him lay claim to gold at the 2022 Indy Pro and New York Pro. With two Pro show victories fueling his ambitions, Awodibu entered his first Olympia competition but didn’t place. As a result of the performance, Awodibu put his head down and trained in the 2023 off-season. As one of the more entertaining Open talents, fans are thrilled to see him back in action.
Hassan Mostafa, meanwhile, has kept a busy schedule this season. In June, Mostafa kicked off his year by finishing second to Iain Valliere at the 2023 Toronto Pro Supershow. A week later, he pushed himself against 49-year-old Phil Clahar at the Orlando Pro though ultimately finished runner-up. Three times a charm, as was the case for Mostafa, who achieved his first win of the season at the recent Vancouver Pro.
Jay Cutler, Milos Sarcev Take Closer Looks At Physiques of Hassan Mostafa and ‘Huge’ Blessing Awodibu
According to Sarcev, there was no way Stan ‘Stanimal’ de Longeaux had a shot at defeating Hassan in Vancouver, Canada.
“No way [Stanimal can’t beat Hassan]. He would not beat you right? No matter how conditioned… you have so much size and power in the Open division. So, for me, there was no contest for first place. I mean, Hassan – on the pictures – it was very good condition. Not Stan’s condition, but this kind of conditioning that’s why I’m saying, just condition can not be a perfect physique,” said Milos Sarcev.
“Years ago we talked about the most muscular bodybuilder on the planet, and we thought it was Hassan. We used to see him at Dragon’s Lair and he could barely walk he was so big. He’s come down a lot since then,” said Cutler. “Samson might be the most muscular bodybuilder right now. Samson is pretty – and Nick Walker is really big too.”
Looking at last year’s Olympia finishers, Sarcev said Mostafa wouldn’t have been able to defeat Rafael Brandao due to the Brazilian’s shape, width, and aesthetics.
“Close second twice, and if he would lose this one – there would be so much disagreement,” said Sarcev. “Hassan? Ten being Rafael Brandao… I would give it Rafael, myself. So, I don’t think he would make the top ten. Look, crazy size, but Rafael Brandao beat Samson a year before in Romania. Rafael has shape and width and aesthetics and everything. So, I’m not going to go for just pure muscle,” explained Sarcev.
Sarcev and Cutler agree Awodibu looks motivated ahead of this weekend, where he’s set to face off against rising talent Justin Shier.
“Justin is phenomenal. Yes for sure [Justin can win]. He has everything that it takes. I still haven’t seen him in person. The pictures that I’ve seen and the videos, he’s super impressive. The v-taper is – I think there was an argument that he could have bigger legs and a little bit fuller chest.”
“Blessing looked super motivated. He looked huge. He’s super wide. My advice is I told him right there in front of you: he has one of the craziest v-tapers and a super small waist when he opens up, right? He should not risk whatsoever to push down as his obliques come out and then his waist doesn’t look as good. This is about that presentation.
It’s not what you have it’s what you show. If you never show them a wider waist, they only see a smaller waist, and that’s how they’re going to judge. Then, you’re a super contender. Upper body, I mean, Blessing is a phenomenon, a phenomenon.
If Awodibu brings a comparable physique to what he displayed at last year’s New York Pro, Jay Cutler said the Chicago Pro is his show to win.
“If he comes like the New York Pro, I think he can win,” suggested Cutler.
“Yeah [he can win] by all means. In Las Vegas, maybe he would be the odds-on favorite still, but Justin is just — too complete and balanced. From an aspect of balance, that’s what the downfall was of Blessing’s. He had a crazy upper body and legs lacking a little bit. Patrick Moore the same thing.”
Sarcev, Cutler Talk Passing on Shows and Weak Prize Money
Given the costs associated with bodybuilding, Sarcev is surprised at how few athletes decide to compete regularly at contests. Cutler was quick to point out that the prize money in bodybuilding has remained lackluster for decades now.
“It makes zero sense [to not compete]. All these guys – so, gear costs. Gear costs. They’re going to do the gear whether they compete or not, they’re going to take pictures for Instagram or not. When they’re in the gym they do what they do, they eat what they’re supposed to. Okay, now, when you do all that stuff. Wouldn’t you want to be in shape – contest shape – and when you’re in contest shape and you have a Pro card you can be on the biggest stage in the IFBB? And you’re passing on all these shows, what the hell?” said Milos Sarcev.
Cutler and Sarcev believe the inactivity problem boils down to the lack of financial opportunities available from sponsors.
“They can compete but they choose not to compete, why would you not compete? You have a Pro card,” said Sarcev. “[It’s] too many shows, like you mentioned it, and it’s the same prize money. Why don’t you force promoters, promoters aren’t going to like me, they should easily double-up the prize money.”
“They can’t because the sponsors are scarce,” said Jay Cutler.
“Then don’t make the show. Have fewer shows and start valuing this bodybuilders,” said Sarcev.
This isn’t the first time that prize money in bodybuilding has taken over headlines. In June, athletes rep Bob Cicherillo took to a Voice of Bodybuilding Podcast to discuss the pressing issue. Similar to Cutler and Sarcev’s point of view, Cicherillo highlighted that prize money hasn’t changed for decades. Moving forward, Cicherillo would like to see the minimum purse raised from $10,000 to $20,000 for typical bodybuilding contests outside of the Arnold Classic and Mr. Olympia.
With the sport’s greatest event taking place in three months, athletes still have time to earn their tickets. Should Awodibu claim gold this weekend, he’ll have the chance to face the reigning Mr. Olympia Hadi Choopan later this year. As for Hassan Mostafa, he hopes to make it on the Olympia stage after health issues sidelined him from an appearance in 2022.