Iranian bodybuilder Hadi Choopan cemented his place in the history books with a sensational victory at the 2022 Mr. Olympia. Along with Choopan, former 212 Olympia champion, Derek Lunsford received major praise for his debut performance in the Men’s Open class. In a recent episode of Cutler Cast, renowned bodybuilding coach Milos Sarcev backed Choopan and Lunsford as favorites going into the 2023 Mr. Olympia.
Fans witnessed one of the most competitive and exciting seasons of the last few years in 2022. Former two-time Mr. Olympia Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay was tasked with the challenge of facing veterans like former champion Brandon Curry, William Bonac, and the ever-consistent Hadi Choopan along with a plethora of other top-tier talents, including Nick Walker, Andrew Jacked, and Samson Dauda. Aside from the mass monsters of the Open, Derek Lunsford entered the show following a special invite.
In the end, Big Ramy got knocked off the top by Choopan, who became the first Iranian to win the coveted Sandow trophy. Lunsford made a statement in his Open debut by taking silver in a close-fought contest with Choopan. Then, Dauda asserted his place in the mix of title contention by dominating the competition at the 2023 Arnold Classic earlier this year.
The 2023 Pittsburgh Pro presented an opportunity for some of the top Open competitors to give fans a sneak peek at the looks they plan to bring for the 2023 Mr. Olympia. Following the guest posing appearances, many thought Lunsford and Dauda emerged as the frontrunners for the show. Although Choopan was not in attendance, he sent warning shots with a massive physique update in the days that would follow.
Lunsford received the backing of bodybuilding legend and eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman, who also called him his favorite contemporary bodybuilder last month. Former Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout voiced a similar sentiment in backing Lunsford as the biggest threat at this year’s Olympia.
As for Lunsford, he reported significant improvements in the off-season and expects to return to action stronger than ever. Hadi Choopan doesn’t seem too worried as he issued a fiery message showing off his monstrous physique in an update weeks ago.
Derek Lunsford teamed up with Dauda for a grueling back workout session over two weeks ago. Both men boasted their humongous frames and pushed each other to the limit under the guidance of Hall of Famer Chris Cormier.
Milos Sarcev backs Derek Lunsford & Hadi Choopan as favorites for 2023 Mr. Olympia
In a recent YouTube video, Milos Sarcev shared his thoughts on the frontrunners for the 2023 Mr. Olympia.
According to Sarcev, there’s a high chance Choopan retains the title this year and the next.
“I have all the respect for Hadi,” said Sarcev. “Hadi could be three times Mr. Olympia.”
He backed Lunsford and Choopan as the favorites entering the show and highlighted the danger that 2023 Arnold Classic winner Samson Dauda brings.
“Derek & Hadi are frontrunners. Samson is going to the show to win and will do everything possible for him to win.”
Sarcev says Lunsford would be Mr. Olympia if it was judged from the back
Sarcev believes Derek Lunsford boasts one of the best backs in the game and is nearly unbeatable in front poses, like the front double bicep and front lat spread. For Sarcev, the deciding factor would be how convincingly Lunsford gets beaten in his weaker poses from the side.
“Derek would be Mr. Olympia if it was judged from the back already. He lost from the side a little bit and when you think front, front double biceps, front lat spread, he’s super dangerous because then you can really see the definition and hardness on the chest on those two poses and he had a crazy v-taper so you gotta give him. He has front double bicep, front lat spread, he looks crazy in all these poses. He’s super dangerous. From the back, he’s phenomenal. The other poses, he can be beaten. Can he be beaten in other poses convincingly enough? That remains to be seen. I still think Hadi Choopan is going to come [and be in the driver’s seat].”
Derek Lunsford showed off his huge legs in a heavy-duty off-season lower-body workout last week. He indulged in a friendly hot-dog eating contest, devouring 3,300 calories in a post-workout cheat meal. Then, he laid out a sleeve-busting arm workout to build jacked biceps earlier this week.