Golden Era bodybuilding veteran Samir Bannout knows the ins and outs of the sport since retiring. Looking ahead to the 2023 Arnold Classic on March 2-5, in Columbus, Ohio, Bannout examined some of the top Men’s Open bodybuilders expected to compete.
The 2023 bodybuilding season will welcome the Arnold Classic in just six weeks. Initially, fans were surprised by the sparse lineup. Right after the roster was made public, Blessing Awodibu and Charles Griffen dropped out. As a result, the IFBB Pro League took swift action, announcing new fines/punishment should an athlete opt out of an invitational contest after the final competitor’s list has been revealed.
To incentivize more bodybuilders to enter the second-most prestigious competition on the calendar, the Arnold Sports Organizers decided to pump the prize money up to $300,000. Shortly after the news circulated, Nick Walker, Andrew Jacked, Patrick Moore, and former two-time Mr. Olympia Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay jumped into the competition.
With only six weeks until the action kicks off in Ohio, veterans of the sport are breaking down who they believe could win the show. Speaking on the latest Muscle Maturity Podcast, Samir Bannout talked about Samson Dauda facing Nick Walker, and why Derek Lunsford chose not to compete.
Samir Bannout: Nick Walker Isn’t Clear Winner at 2023 Arnold Classic, ‘If Samson Dauda Is Shredded, Lord Have Mercy’
According to Bannout, if Samson Dauda comes in with better conditioning than he had at 2022 Olympia, he could overpower Nick Walker on stage.
“I mean he has good chances; he was in third place at Olympia and the top two aren’t in this show. So, it’s automatic that he’s going to be right there – the frontrunner,” Samir Bannout said. “If he looks like he did at the Olympia he’s going to be definitely one of the favorites. If Ramy is better, that remains to be seen and what’s his name – Andrew [Jacked] is also top three. I was very impressed with Andrew but he wasn’t 100%.”
“Samson is unbelievable, honestly I’m very impressed with Samson. If Samson is shredded, lord have mercy. The thing is these guys look okay and cut, but I haven’t seen shredded, shredded, shredded, yet, I haven’t.”
Considering Samson’s aesthetics, Bannout believes he’d win the 2023 Arnold Classic title with improved conditioning.
“Nick has really good chances, but you know, Samson has a beautiful overall physique from head-to-toe. If he’s really ripped, honestly, I’d put my money on him over anyone. But ripped. I saw a video, where I think Milos was saying stay healthy and stuff. I really hope he keeps him healthy. If this guy is onion skinned, I don’t care if it’s 10 or 15 pounds, his body’s overall development is beautiful,” Bannout said. “It’s not very common.”
Why Isn’t Derek Lunsford Doing the 2023 Arnold Classic?
Despite speculation about 2022 Olympia runner-up Derek Lunsford making a splash at the next Arnold Classic, he said he wanted to focus on 2023 Olympia preparations and his health instead. Bannout agreed with his decision and underlined that even a million dollars wasn’t worth putting his health at risk.
“I don’t care if it’s a million dollars, if you’re going to take risks, and make yourself worse the following year, then hell no, I wouldn’t do it. There’s something that we don’t know about this 100%. Hany and Derek understand what’s going on.”
“You’re going to hear a lot from Derek. He’s so young. I’m glad he’s rational enough. He’s putting health ahead of his money. And I would do the same, if I’m healthy I would have done it, but if I’m going to take a risk and derail my drive for the next year or two — fu** that show, fu** the $300,000.”
Bannout Talks Big Ramy’s 2023 Comeback Chances: ‘It’s Going to Be Difficult to Make Major Changes’
Bannout suggested Ramy bring the same tightness he had at Olympia, but ‘five pounds fuller.’
“Hadi isn’t in the show, Derek isn’t in the show. Yeah, if he can load up better and probably be about five pounds fuller with the same tightness, let’s hope his body is responsive and there’s no health issues. If there’s no health issue, I’ve never asked him – but I don’t know, I think it’s going to be difficult to make major changes.”
Samir acknowledged that Ramy is young enough to make a comeback.
“Health is wealth. Let’s hope he’s healthy and he’s still young enough. Hopefully he can redeem himself,” Bannout added. “Look, look, look, sometimes we have to look at the blood tests and see… if your liver enzymes are completely abused, you’d be stupid to do this show.”
In a previous podcast, Bannout opened up on Big Ramy falling to fifth place at the 2022 Olympia contest. He thought Ramy’s noticeable muscle atrophy held him back from success.
“So if your liver enzymes aren’t clean the absorption of everything is not going to be the same.”
“If there’s no major nerve damage, he’ll still be good for a couple more years. But if it’s a nerve situation, and we already said that: it’s impossible to revive a nerve. It’s nearly impossible. I know that for a fact. Look at me, I lost my Brachialis because someone popped my neck and messed up my C-5 and C-6 I had a bone fusion here. I did everything I could to try to revive it and I couldn’t.”
One of Elssbiay’s former coaches, Chris Aceto also gave his thoughts on a potential battle with Nick Walker. Aceto, who started training Andrew Jacked, predicted Ramy could possibly win the Arnold because he does well under pressure.
RELATED: Samson Dauda Confident He Can Beat Nick Walker at 2023 Arnold Classic: ‘Play Your Game’
Fans will find out soon if Big Ramy was able to fix the problems that held him back last month. Regardless, Bannout backed Samson Dauda as a major threat to the AC title in six weeks.
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