Bodybuilding legend Phil Heath has developed a sharp eye for spotting talent based on years of competition. In a recent interview with Bob Cicherillo, Heath shared his thoughts on the frontrunners for the 2023 Mr. Olympia.
Phil Heath cemented his place in the record books with his cartoonish muscle mass, shape, and 3D delts. After taking runner-up at the 2010 Mr. Olympia, Heath took home his maiden Sandow trophy in 2011. He went on a dominant run at the top and racked up six consecutive title defenses till 2017. Besides his freakish physique, Heath developed an intense rivalry with perennial top contender Kai Greene, which is widely regarded as one of the most competitive in the history of the sport.
The 2022 season wrapped up with an exciting Mr. Olympia contest last December. Former two-time champ Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay got knocked off the throne by Hadi Choopan. Ramy came in looking visibly off and left the door open for the title to change hands. Former 212 Olympia champ Derek Lunsford shocked the world with a runner-up finish whereas rising sensation Nick Walker took bronze. Samson Dauda proved his potential with a sixth-place finish in his debut.
Following the Olympia, Walker, Dauda, Ramy, and Andrew Jacked battled again in Ohio for the 2023 Arnold Classic. While Walker was the betting favorite going into the event, Dauda turned in a fantastic performance to edge him out for the title. His win put him in a prime position to claim victory at the upcoming 2023 Mr. Olympia.
Given the change in the hierarchy of the Men’s Open division, there is a ton of excitement for the biggest fitness showcase in the world.
Coach Milos Sarcev believes Dauda has what it takes to become the next Mr. Olympia despite the competition he’ll face from Choopan and Lunsford. He said Dauda should add thickness to his back. Bob Cicherillo expressed a similar sentiment when he backed ‘The Nigerian Lion’ to win it all if he came at his best.
Phil Heath backs Hadi Choopan to defend the crown at the 2023 Mr. Olympia
In a recent YouTube video, Phil Heath shared his thoughts on the competition for the 2023 Mr. Olympia. He backed reigning champ Choopan to successfully defend the title.
“I think Hadi’s a repeat champion,” said Heath. “I do and here’s why. You got to look at someone’s origin, champions have a specific origin of how they got here in the first place. You think of someone that has grown up in that environment in Iran. Everything matters. This thing means everything to him and his country. There’s a lot of expectations but he’s met those expectations in a very quick period of time. He’s never really been off.”
“It’s going to be Hadi all day because he’s got the maturity. We don’t know what this dude looks like right now. He’s in the freaking gym. He would’ve did the Arnold if he was able to. That’s freaking scary. He doesn’t give a sh*t about what anyone has to say. He is in that gym more passionately present than anyone right now.”
Heath reveals his top contenders & defends Big Ramy
Phil Heath believes Walker, Lunsford, and Dauda are also in the mix of title contention.
“It’s a three-headed monster at this point. It’s either Derek, I can make a case for Nick, Nick is an anomaly, he’s very different. If there was a way for Nick to do what Branch did in 09, then it’s a clear cut. It’s him and Hadi going at it. It’s going to cancel out a lot of guys because of the density and muscle maturity because those two won’t be out-conditioned. The cool thing about Derek is now he’s comfortable in that Open body. He’s a hard worker, got a good support system, a good coach”
“If Samson Dauda actually gets a little bit more density in the back, he’s extremely dangerous. He’s got the legs, hamstrings, if he can get more 3D in that back it is a problem because he’s taller and bigger. I do think Olympia this year is very competitive and I hope all of them stay healthy.”
‘The Gift’ came to the defense of Big Ramy and pushed back on some of the criticism thrown his way.
“What we need to learn is stop hype focusing on the bullsh*t because you’re actually tarnishing an incredible legacy. If a Ferrari has a scratch on the hood it’s still freaking jumping. Quit making it seem like it’s ruined. That’s what’s happening with critics on Ramy and other people. I’m just saying we should still appreciate the physique that we’re seeing. Thee judges are going to do what they’re doing so I’m not bent about it.”
Earlier this month, Samson Dauda left fans stunned with his impressive package in a guest-posing appearance at 10x Ben Weider 2023, teasing what is to come on the horizon.
You can watch the full video below.
Based on the latest developments, this year is shaping up to be another exciting season in bodybuilding with an impeccably diverse lineup, featuring the best of both freaks and aesthetics.