The 2023 Mr. Olympia competition is almost here and the world is ready for an unforgettable Men’s Open showdown. In a recent RxMuscle YouTube video on October 29, 2023, Lee Priest and trainer Chris Aceto opened up on the lineup and they discussed Hadi Choopan’s vulnerability as champion.
Last year, the 2022 Mr. Olympia competition was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, and served as a major shake-up for the Men’s Open. The leading favorite heading into the event, former two-time champ Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay (Big Ramy pulled out of 2023 Mr. Olympia), was ousted from his throne. When the smoke settled, Hadi Choopan won the coveted crown after a nailbiter finale with Derek Lunsford and Nick Walker.
Last year’s Olympia housed a mind-shattering number of competitors, which threw a wrench into the production of the competition. Athletes were forced to wait backstage for hours until finally performing much later than expected. The struggles didn’t stop Choopan from shining, though some have suggested that these conditions held others back from bringing their best physiques.
The 2023 Mr. Olympia contest is rapidly approaching and takes place this weekend. With so many bodybuilding veterans backing Derek Lunsford to win, Priest and Aceto sat down to discuss why Choopan has been largely counted out.
Chris Aceto Says Hadi Choopan ‘The Strong Favorite’ for 2023 Mr. Olympia
Even though public consensus has shifted toward Derek Lunsford winning the 2023 Mr. Olympia title, Aceto explained why Choopan shouldn’t be overlooked:
“Since everybody thinks he’s vulnerable maybe he’s going to be completely invulnerable if that makes sense. Maybe he slams the door shut from the second he steps out on stage because the consensus of course is like no he’s no shoo-in whatsoever to repeat but I know this, to answer your question I think it’s because there are a lot of good guys.”
“There’s varying types of physiques that can contrast versus his and I think – I can’t put my finger on it to be perfectly honest why people wouldn’t pick him as the winner. He has to be the frontrunner simply because of this: he won last year and when he won, he was pretty convincing.”
Aceto shared that it’s challenging to “pick apart” Choopan’s poses and given his status as champion, he should be considered the strong favorite heading into Olympia this weekend.
“He doesn’t have poses where you can pick apart. So if you can’t pick him apart on poses and he’s got certain poses where he’s really impressive and of course, his conditioning is lights out, he should be considered as the defending champion the strong favorite,” said Chris Aceto.
“He’s always impressed people who know what they are looking at.”
Refusing to dismiss Choopans’ chances, Lee Priest said he could easily win the contest by “shocking” the competition with muscle hardness.
“It’s going to be hard like Chris said because you know Hadi’s conditioning has always been on point so if you think about someone coming in condition you don’t have to really worry about Hadi. Now is he going to come in even harder than he has been to really shock them, which I think he could still do, come in there a couple of percent more harder but then the other guys if they come in hard and they’ve improved.”
“That’s the only thing I see or hope I don’t see the judges do with Hadi because we’ve seen Andrew, we have seen Samson, the other guys make improvements, but Hadi on the muscle size has not made improvements so his conditioning is going to be the main thing.”
However, Lee worries that judges favor recent improvements and that could work against Choopan if he doesn’t look noticeably different from last year.
“Sometimes when judges see the other guys improved, they sort of reward that, or maybe Hadi is tapped out, like a Bonac-type thing where they still come in looking fantastic but you’re not seeing the big changes the others have made.”
“As good as condition as Hadi I don’t think they’re going to beat him so they have to come in with the improvements and his conditioning I think to knock him out,” shared Lee Priest.
Chris Aceto also warned against underestimating Nick Walker.
“I think Nick Walker has a lot of mass. I think people are underestimating him because you know, this is bodybuilding. It’s still about mass and condition and Nick Walker’s big and hard. Samson is big and hard. Andrew is big and hard,” said Aceto.
Then, the esteemed coach underlined Samon Dauda’s chances of success considering he just took gold at the 2023 Arnold Classic in March.
“Judges will judge what they see in front of them but they also judge on improvements. I have this idea of how people are going to look but let’s just say Samson comes out and he’s not quite tight but he’s 25 pounds bigger than last year… well how tight does he have to be if he’s 25 pounds bigger than last year?
If you’re judging the show you’re like holy shit. Samson has gained 25 pounds, 10 pounds since the Arnold or nine pounds since the Arnold whatever it may be, it may just be enough for your eyes to keep going back to him. You can’t say because you don’t know what people have in store,” explained Chris Aceto.
Priest and Aceto aren’t the only high-profile names in the sport breaking down the competition. Recently, a slew of bodybuilding veterans offered their big picks for the event. Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, Samir Bannout, and Chris Cormier have backed Derek Lunsford to unseat Choopan. Meanwhile, Milos Sarcev believes his pupil Samson Dauda will claim the Sandow trophy.
In just a few days, the Open division’s best names will vie for gold and cash prizes. The stakes couldn’t be higher, as only the top three finishers of the 2023 Mr. Olympia contest will receive automatic qualifications for next year.