The 212-pound men's bodybuilding throw-down is set to debut at the 2014 Arnold Classic on February 28. Open to all IFBB male pro bodybuilders weighing 212 pounds or less, the Arnold Classic's inaugural 212 men's competition will feature the best of pro bodybuilding's lighter athletes.
The build-up to this hotly anticipated event is a doozy. Excitement will hit an all-time high when bodybuilding's "smaller" yet impressively muscled contenders take the stage at the Columbus Convention Center in Ohio.
2014 Arnold Classic 212
Friday, February 28, 2014
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Columbus Convention Center
Arnold Fitness EXPO Stage
Veteran's Memorial Auditorium
The popularity of the 202-pound pro men's division prompted a move to increase the weight limit to 212 pounds in 2011. Before this weight limit change, competitors who weighed in at sub-200 rarely had the opportunity to shine; they were overshadowed by bulkier men.
The extra 10 pounds of wiggle room gives smaller contenders the chance to showcase a little extra mass, but there's no slacking involved here: They're still expected to show up with razor-sharp conditioning, serious game faces, and prime physiques.
Twelve fierce competitors have been invited to compete in this year's Arnold Classic 212-pound class. Of these 12, four stand out as immediate favorites: Two-time and current 212 Olympia champion Flex Lewis, his arch nemesis and pro legend David Henry, the always competitive and heavily muscled Jose Raymond, and the great Hidetada Yamagishi.
While you might be quick to place bets on any of the top four, you shouldn't count the others—in particular Dixon and Rivera—out of the contest just yet.
With so much talent soon to swarm the stage, I couldn't wait to make my predictions. Who will come out on top? Here's my forecast.
Though considerably smaller than his fellow IFBB pro and brother Roelly, Quincy Winklaar is impressive in his own right. The 2010 Arnold Classic light heavyweight amateur standout shows incredible promise in the way of killer quad development and great balance.
Despite being a relative newcomer to the pro game with his 9th-place finish in the 2013 Dallas Europa Supershow 212 class, Winklaar is ready to show that his highly ranked brother is not the only contender to be feared in the family.
The well-proportioned Marco Rivera is one to watch at this year's Arnold Classic. Rivera kicked off 2013 with a commendable showing at the Europa Show of Champions and the New York Pro with 3rd and 5th-place finishes, respectively.
The New York gym owner brings an intimidating stage presence that rivals the best. As long as he tightly dials in his condition and lives up to his reputation as having some of the best shoulder development in his division, Rivera will establish himself as a 212-pound threat.
The 2012 NPC USA Championships heavyweight winner is as big as men get in the 212-pound division. Aaron Clark will need every ounce of muscle to overcome the towering challenges by Henry, Flex, and company. With his impressive 4th-place finish at last year's New York Pro, Clark has demonstrated his ability to bring quality along with quantity.
His stunning V-taper and full, peaked biceps will certainly help catapult him to a top-10 seat. Having received his pro card at age 23, this perennial fan favorite and young IFBB pro has a bright future ahead of him. No doubt he'll press hard for inclusion in the top six.
Despite being pro for more than a decade, 2002 NPC USA middleweight champion Stan McQuay has competed among the world's best only nine times. McQuay may not be the most consistently conditioned competitor; he tends to either bring his A-game or completely miss the mark. When he reveals his ace, however, the winner's trophy can be within reach.
In his last competitive appearance at the 2011 Sacramento Pro, he secured first place with a beautifully polished performance and an impressive, balanced physique. His weaker overall mass may be a hindrance, but if he brings the physique that has so far won him three pro shows, he may have one hell of a fighting chance for a spot in the final standings.
Tricky Jackson has been sporting the posing trunks since 1988 and went pro in 2006. Tricky placed fifth in the lightweight category at his first contest, the Kentucky Derby, weighing only 137 pounds. With four big pro wins and multiple top-three placements under his belt, the veteran continues to make strides, especially if his 2013 Olympia 212 placement is any indication.
He's recently added additional mass to keep him in a game dominated increasingly by walking granite blocks. His ultra-wide back, near perfect quad flare, and flawless posing skills are signature strong points.
There are no tricks here: He will use his experience and wisdom to his advantage at this year's Arnold.
2013 Europa Pro 4th-place finisher Charles Dixon has a phenomenal physique. Stacked from head-to-toe with enough quality beef to vie for top placement in any 212 lineup, the 2007 NPC Nationals light heavyweight winner will put up a fierce fight for top six placement at the 2014 Arnold.
Since his pro debut in 2008, Dixon has improved with each show. If this pattern carries over to 2014's first big show, he will surely be recognized among the best of his division.
After sliding into the top 10 at the 2009, 2010, and 2011 Olympias (in the open weight category, no less), Japan's Hidetada Yamagishi showed that size does not always trump class. Smaller and lighter than many of his pro peers, Yamagishi has worked tirelessly on his conditioning and proportion, showing few flaws and proving that he can compete with top players.
He secured 5th and 8th place at the 2013 Arnold Classic and Arnold Classic Brazil, respectively. Now a 212-pound competitor, Yamagishi is determined to make waves in his pro career, starting with a stellar performance at this year's Arnold.
Jose Raymond might just be the most densely muscled competitor in the 212-pound division. Raymond carries loads of muscle packed onto a lightweight, lean, mean frame. He definitely knows a thing or two about accentuating his mass and winning events.
He's been in the pro competition circuit since 2009. Having dominated the 2013 New York Pro 212 class, Raymond is likely to round out the top three this year.
All eyes will be on David Henry, who won the first ever 202-pound Olympia event in 2008. Since his early rise to glory, a succession of 2nd-place finishes in lighter class competitions in the last couple of Olympias have left a blemish on an otherwise polished pro record.
Still, Henry is a gem to be admired: His shredded back, glutes, and arguably the best front double biceps shot in the division will keep him at the forefront of this year's lineup.
Fueled by his 2013 Sheru Classic and Europa Phoenix Pro wins, the "Giant Killer" is expected to put his best foot (or leg) forward this year if he is to contend with reigning champ and archrival Flex Lewis.
Easily the most complete competitor in the 212-pound division, the Welsh Dragon Flex Lewis is a two-time 212 Mr. Olympia and the current Olympia 212-pound champ. Although he's up against some formidable opponents this year, Lewis is a fan-favorite and unlikely to be stopped at this year's Arnold.
It's easy to see why: Lewis totes a compact and massive yet strikingly symmetrical and well-proportioned body. Can he claim his sixth consecutive pro victory at this year's Arnold? If his current track record is any indication, my answer is a resounding yes.
This phenomenal lineup is sure to ignite this year's Arnold Classic. Let us know your thoughts in the comments! Keep your eyes peeled on the action with our exclusive Bodybuilding.com live webcast.