A year ago, James “Flex” Lewis dominated his weight class, winning the Arnold Classic 212 and the Olympia 212. Despite his 5-foot-5 height, the Welshman stood head and shoulders over his competitors. Despite his odds-on-favorite status to repeat, were he to compete, Flex is sitting this one out. He wants to focus all of his energies on the Olympia 212 in Las Vegas later this year. As a result, a new champion will be crowned on March 6 in Columbus, Ohio.
The question is, who will it be? This opens the door to any number of competitors looking to take one of the sport’s biggest titles. Here’s a rundown of the elite 212 bodybuilders who will be onstage and our predictions for the top five. If you foresee a different outcome, give us your own predictions in the comments section at the bottom.
Aaron Clark took third at the inaugural Arnold Classic 212 a year ago, and he finished in the top six at the Olympia 212, so he’ll be gunning for the title in Columbus. Look for marked improvement in his back and legs to go with his already strong shoulder and arm development.
Eduardo Correa, a formidable Brazilian, pushed Flex Lewis at the Olympia just a few months ago and took runner-up honors. His symmetry is so outstanding that if he’s on with his conditioning, the result may be a foregone conclusion.
Charles Dixon, nicknamed “The Tank” for his thickness, placed sixth here a year ago. However, he slipped to tenth at the Olympia 212, so he’s looking for some redemption. Strong points include great development in his delts and back. He must overcome his taller opponents to win, but don’t be surprised if he makes the top five.
Shaun Joseph-Tavernier was a champion in the old 202 division, winning in Toronto back in 2011. But this is a big step up in competition for the Brit, who took last year off from competing. His 5-foot-2 frame carries 200 pounds.
Cory Mathews is making his Arnold 212 debut here. This Texan preaches muscle, as he’s also an ordained minister. If he hits Columbus in shape, Lord help the rest of the field. He could definitely crack the top five.
Jose Raymond, aka “The Boston Mass,” finished fifth in Columbus last year. But he won two of his six shows and took third at the Olympia 212 behind Lewis and Correa. A dense ball of muscle who always comes in well-conditioned, Jose is a likely top-three finisher.
Marco Rivera, from the Bronx, finished a disappointing 11th a year ago in Columbus, his only 212 appearance of the season. To do better, he must bring up his chest and arms and hold his conditioning.
Angel Rangel Vargas
Angel Rangel Vargas returns to Columbus from Mexico. The judges will look to see if he brought up his legs, specifically his hamstrings and calves, which were noticeably lacking a year ago when he placed tenth. With the star power in this lineup, top five is a long shot.
Angel Rangel Vargas
Hidetada Yamagishi is the wildcard in this lineup. If he’s in mint condition, which he normally is, a top-five finish is a lock, with possibly even the top three. He’s already won an open pro show and finished second five times, so the Japanese bodybuilder knows what it takes to dial it in.