The 2023 Arnold Classic takes place in just a few days in Columbus, Ohio from March 2-5. In a recent RxMuscle interview, Milos Sarcev assessed former two-time Mr. Olympia Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay‘s chances before he stands on stage.
“I heard rumors that Big Ramy is in very very good condition. Again, better than what he delivered at the Olympia,” said Milos Sarcev.
Last year’s 2022 Mr. Olympia competition was full of surprises. Elssbiay was unable to defend his title and dropped to fifth place. Instead, Hadi Choopan won gold, becoming the first Iranian-born Mr. Olympia winner. Meanwhile, former 212 Olympia Derek Lunsford shocked fans with a second-place showing following a dramatic physique transformation for the Men’s Open division.
IFBB head judge Steve Weinberger revealed after the show that Big Ramy came into the contest noticeably off. He suspected that the former champion was struggling with some undisclosed injuries. Despite the fall to fifth, Ramy appeared motivated to get his career back on track. He made a surprise entry into the 2023 Arnold Classic after the organizers increased the prize money to a record $300,000.
At the 35th annual Arnold Sports Festival, Ramy will face a number of threats he battled on the Olympia stage. Third-place finisher Nick Walker hopes to earn his second AC title after winning the honor in 2021. In addition, Andrew Jacked, Shaun Clarida, William Bonac, and many others are fighting for the second-most coveted title in bodybuilding.
Milos Sarcev Talks Big Ramy Days Before 2023 AC, Says It Was ‘Good Idea’ for Him to Make Quick Turnaround
Sarcev highlighted that Ramy took six months off from training in 2020. Despite the prolonged hiatus, Sarcev said his body responds fast to preps, similar to bodybuilding veteran Kevin Levrone.
“Ramy didn’t want to diet down, you know and work as hard. Let’s put it this way. There’s rumors and reports from Chad and Dennis that after the 2020 Olympia, which he won, later on Ramy didn’t even go to the gym for six months. I don’t know if you guys remember that. There was all that, ‘oh my God.’ Kevin Levrone was known for that, not to train and 12 weeks out — his body just responds,” said Sarcev.
“We were all believing that no one was going to touch him right [at 2022 Olympia]. Since 2013 to all the way there, I watched him in 2017 him being second to Phil Heath, it’s imposing. I think in 2017, he could of taken Phil Heath, really when you analyze pose by pose, he was much wider. There was some mass dominance.”
Sarcev was thankful that his pupil Samson Dauda started off last year’s Olympia standing next to Ramy during prejudging.
“Again, Big Ramy – there was that stigma that he was just going to overpower everybody. Thank God, there was my guy standing right next to him. Samson, I don’t know if you guys felt that way, but Samson for the first time holding in the size department against somebody that was envisioned to dominate.”
Should Ramy deliver in Ohio, Sarcev admits he’d be on his way to redeeming his latest Olympia performance.
“Is this a good decision for Ramy [to do Arnold] or bad, and what if he doesn’t have redemption but actually falls even further down. If he doesn’t deliver it, it’s a danger he’s going to be fighting for a top five [spot] here. If he does deliver it, does he have a chance of winning, yes.”
Mike Francois, who competed on the Olympia stage multiple times, mentioned that Ramy’s success will likely depend on how he’s handled the suspected nerve damage.
“Yeah. I think you couldn’t help but think that [a decline in Ramy], having been on top of the world and starting to fall, and it also depends on if he has that nerve damage thing going on, and it depends on why he didn’t do better at the Olympia. If it’s things that are correctable early on, he could fix it, well we’re here now.
Either way, he’s got to do well to re-establish his brand so to speak. He was the freak. He was the guy out there, the Dorian six weeks out pictures type of thing,” Mike Francois said.
Weeks ago, Ramy underwent an intravenous stem cell procedure to revitalize his physique. His coach, Chad Nicholls, recently appeared on a Prime Time Muscle podcast, where he mentioned that Ramy’s back is looking “20%” better. He also shared that a multitude of factors negatively impacted Ramy’s Olympia performance, like constipation, stress, and injuries.
Sarcev added that it was a good decision for Big Ramy to enter this weekend’s Arnold Classic.
“Sometimes you think you could slip from first to second, but he didn’t expect to go all the way down to fifth. Actually, the damage could have been worse as we know. Is this a bad decision or good decision to come in? I think it’s a very good decision because he already slipped, and he would have too much time to think about it.”
A handful of the sport’s most respected coaches have discussed Big Ramy’s potential in Ohio. His former trainer, Chris Aceto, recently opened up on the Egyptian’s chances. He mentioned that Big Ramy could win the Arnold but said getting past Nick Walker wouldn’t be a cakewalk.
Former two-time AC champ, Kevin Levrone took a bolder approach. He doesn’t believe Big Ramy ‘has the balls’ to get ripped and shredded for a bodybuilding contest like the Arnold. Levrone also mentioned that he thought Ramy left the door open for judges to penalize him last December.
This event will serve as Big Ramy’s first Arnold Classic since placing third in 2020 – the same year he won the Mr. Olympia title. If he manages to pull off the victory, fans will surely be calling for him to get his title back against Hadi Choopan in November.