We are just a week away from bodybuilding’s biggest event in the world taking over Orlando, Florida. Recently, on the latest Muscle Maturity Podcast, Samir Bannout gave his thoughts on the top contenders expected to square off on the 2023 Mr. Olympia stage next weekend. He also reacted to the new qualification rules set forth by the promotion.
“It’s going to be a tough show for sure. I’m actually happy that they narrowed it down to the only top three to qualify each year. Wonderful.”
Samir Bannout, a former 1983 Mr. Olympia winner, is no stranger to the sport’s bright lights, having competed against names like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lee Haney, and Tom Platz. In retirement, he remains active in the community giving back with his analytical takes on the Open class he once ruled over.
The highly anticipated 2023 Mr. Olympia contest is right around the corner and like all of us, Bannout is curious as to who will come out on top. Last year, Hadi Choopan reigned supreme against Derek Lunsford and Nick Walker in the finals. With this year’s extravaganza rapidly approaching, Bannout opened up on which contenders stand a chance of success on November 4.
Samir Bannout Discusses Brandon Curry, Derek Lunsford, and Hadi Choopan Ahead of 2023 Mr. Olympia
Even though he’s not backing Brandon Curry to win, Bannout does see a path to victory for the former 2019 Mr. Olympia, adding that, “he needs to be sliced to the bone.”
“I don’t know why people have become so negative because the bodies change. He can make the proper changes, he could come back looking better than he did when he won the Olympia. I mean Brandon Curry has got a great body. The only thing that I criticized Brandon and it was fair and we’re friends, he knows I like him. A long time ago I told him he’s that great, seriously.
I thought Brandon need to improve his hamstrings a little bit, the bottom part of his hamstring. But looking at him from the front, he’s amazing. The guy has got a lot of muscle, beautiful physique. But anyways, who is 100% perfect John. I won’t write him out, but he needs to come in shredded to get that recognition that he had before. He needs to be sliced to the bone. There’s no other way around it.”
Bannout stresses that top-tier conditioning will be crucial for Curry, Lunsford, and Choopan if they hope to win.
“Derek is not going to win Olympia unless he comes in really shredded. Neither with Hadi Choopan, Hadi is Mr. Olympia if he doesn’t come in at 100% forget about it. So for you know Brandon to be back to the gold old Brandon I wouldn’t write him down or put him down but he needs to come in 24K quality.”
According to Bannout, Lunsford’s back is looking “damn scary” and underlined that he’s “got everything.”
“I saw a couple of back shots of Derek doing a back lat spread, his back is like coming out outside farther away from his elbows. He’s looking really good. He’s going to be very hard to beat man I’m telling you,” said Bannout.
“I didn’t think he needed to put on more muscle… the guy has got everything,” said Bannout. “He’s a big troublemaker. Yeah, he is. Derek is the most dangerous, he is. It’s going to be exciting to see these guys next week.”
“His back is looking damn scary right now, I think Derek is the most dangerous one. Who would I like to win honestly? I would like the best man to win that’s all. I’m not biased here. Even if Regan Grimes comes in and throws a Hiroshima in there maybe he could, we’ll see.”
Bannout Reacts to Only Top 3 Mr. Olympia Finishers Getting Auto Qualifications: “It’s a Good Thing”
While he was taken aback by the IFBB Pro League’s sudden rule change, Samir Bannout embraced it nonetheless.
“That was shocking. I was talking to Scott earlier and he told me, I mean that’s going to make it a lot higher quality of Olympia by just taking the cream of the crop. Because you know, you see sometimes, some contestants honestly maybe about five or six percent of the contestants are not billed to be on that stage. I’m serious. I mean, you want to see more competitors but I want to see a quality competitor.
So now, by cutting it into three, I can understand what the IFBB Pro League is doing and Jim Manion says, ‘You know what, it’s Mr. Olympia, let’s have all the top-notch competing we just don’t want to have many just standing there taking time. You know what I don’t mind it. I think it’s not bad.”
“Honestly, I would only about 15 of them get my full full respect. No disrespect to the other ones but I mean… Mr. Olympia is the cream of the crop. It’s the ultimate show. And having guys that are not 100% qualified I think it’s a good thing really. I like the way Mr. Manion is thinking.”
“It’s a good thing in my opinion,” added Samir Bannout.
Samir Bannout wasn’t the only bodybuilding veteran to give their opinion on the 2023 Mr. Olympia Men’s Open showdown. In a recent The Menace Podcast, Jay Cutler, Dennis James, and Chris Cormier predicted Derek Lunsford would walk away victorious next month.
The world will be watching from November 2-5 as the IFBB Pro League’s most skilled contenders compete for cash prizes, bragging rights, and legacy. As for Samir Bannout, he believes Lunsford is the rightful favorite but won’t count out Choopan, Curry, or any competitor that can bring the perfect balance of mass and conditioning.