By popular demand here is my review of the 2006 IFBB Iron Man, held just last week at the Pasadena civic center. It was held in conjunction with the Fit Expo for the third consecutive year.
I watched the prejudging from start to finish, and had a pretty good idea of who was going to place where in the first 2 minutes. Overall, I would say that the quality of physiques far surpassed that of last year's line-up. With 30 guys clamoring for just 3 Olympia qualifying spots, it was finally time for round 1 to begin.
A Two-Man Race
There were 2 guys that stood out right from the whistle. They were Lee Priest and David Henry. It was going to be a two-man race to the finish without question. Pre-contest favorite Troy Alves came out strong, but seemed to flatten out as the judging wore on.
Given his hectic schedule prior to the show (Plane got delayed coming out of Arizona getting Troy in late enough to miss the Press conference scheduled for Friday night.) may explain why he came in flat.
The Top Five
After Lee, David and Troy it was wide open for the final 2 top five spots. A few guys established themselves as worthy contenders: Mark Dugdale, Tony Freeman, Kris Dim and Eric Bui were all capable of nabbing the final 2 spots, while each showing diametrically different physiques.
Mark Dugdale weighed in a few pounds heavier than his fighting weight last year. Mark put on just the right amount of weight without sacrificing his classic lines and symmetry. A mistake we see MANY make in the transition from amateur to rookie to veteran competitor.
Eryc Bui was a surprise to me in that being one of the smaller guys on the stage, his conditioning more than carried his sub 200 lb. package past many pro's 40-50 lbs. heavier. Not a small feat (no pun intended) when it is a muscle contest.
Same could be said for Kris Dim albeit a bit bigger and fuller. Kris seemed to get sharper as the rounds wore on, and showed up even sharper at the night show finals.
Tony Freeman was the true big man on the stage at a towering 6' 2" plus. Tony has done his homework and it showed the minute he walked on stage as the added mass in his upper body would not go unnoticed.
Tony is very symmetrical for a tall man and has a very pleasing physique to the eye. Another 10-12 lbs. of filling out and this guy is going to be a force in any show he enters. I actually had Tony in the top 5, as I thought he was placed too low.
Mustafa Muhammad ended up in the 6th spot, and was none too happy about it. Double M carries as much if not more muscle on his 5' 8" frame as anyone in the biz. HOWEVER, his conditioning wasn't 100%, and his waist is wide by comparison.
His much praised leg development is actually overpowering to the rest of his physique, and throws off his symmetry substantially. Bottom line is... I would love to see Mustafa come in about 10 lbs. leaner sporting more detail and down-train those thunder thighs to bring his body in proportion. If he accomplishes that, this could be a "W" in the column next year.
A Tough Decision
Getting back to the top 2: Lee and David offered up an interesting decision for the judges, as they both had distinct strengths and weaknesses. Lee had his usual softball sized biceps; David had the best back in the show. However, Lee had much more mass; David had a more refined look.
Many in the audience were split on who would come out on top. It was about 50/50 from everyone I talked to, and about 70/30 from the pro's I interviewed in David's favor.
Tough decision, but this is the pros and someone's got to win/lose. When the smoke cleared, it was a long awaited victory for Lee, as this was his 10th trip to the Iron Man. David Henry served notice that he is for real, and is going to be a legitimate contender in the IFBB for some time to come.
It was an interesting turning of the tides as the small man has made his comeback in a sport ruled by the mass monsters for the better part of the last decade.
Here's The Way I Had It Scored:
|My Picks||Actual Scoring|
|1. David Henry
2. Lee Priest
3. Mark Dugdale
4. Tony Freeman
5. Troy Alves
6. Kris Dim
7. Erik Bui
8. Armin Shultz
9. Chris Cook
10. Ahmed Haidar
| 1. Lee Priest
2. David Henry
3. Troy Alves
4. Kris Dim
5. Mark Dugdale
6. Mustafa Mohammad
7. Toney Freeman
8. Eyrk Bui
9. Ahmad Haidar
10. Chris Cook
Chris came in at the last minute as he was originally preparing for the Arnold 2 weeks later. I believe Chris has all the tools to get to the top of the bodybuilding ladder, but needs to come in much lighter with better conditioning to get into the top spots.
Chris also needs muscle maturity, which will come; unfortunately nothing can replace time in the gym. I would like to see Chris at 240-45 lbs. to take advantage of his structure.
I've seen Ahmad MUCH better and MUCH sharper in past shows. He took most of the latter part of the year off in '05. He'll need to come in razor sharp to become a contender again. One curse of the smaller guys is that if you're not ripped and conditioned, you don't have the mass to carry you.
I must give props to Derek for coming in 100% better than last year. While being the smallest competitor in the line-up is certainly no advantage I applaud Derek for putting his nose to the grindstone and presenting a much-improved physique. That's what being a pro is all about, and Derek is a great spokesman for the sport in every way.
For those that missed it, we have the contest on demand right here on BB.com, where you can hear my live commentary as I watched thee night show finals from the balcony.
As usual, the lighting was spectacular and second to none as shows go. Hats off to Mike Neveux and John Balik for putting together a smooth running, no hitch presentation. Lonnie Teper did his usual great job of Master of Ceremonies with background knowledge of the entire pro line-up, and his usual quick wit. It is always a pleasure to learn from the best!
The Fit Expo
Attending the last two I can safely say this was the best of the three. The attendance was MUCH better all three days, whereas last year, only Saturday was crowded. All the events seemed to draw a good crowd; from the weigh-in to the strongman competition, to the couple's model search.
There were many seminars going on throughout the weekend, including Brenda Kelly's "Hollywood Youth maintenance." I did participate in this. The Bodybuilding.com booth was in full force as we had our media crew there headed by Travis Chapman and the Fit Show crew.
Dan Solomon and I did our live broadcast of Pro Bodybuilding Weekly right at the booth with many dignitaries giving their predictions and expertise including Shawn Ray, Kevin Levrone, Rich Gaspari, and more.
We also conducted interviews with some celebrities that we found perusing around the expo. Former baseball great Jose Canseco joined myself and Shawn Ray for a very personal interview segment, we also received a visit from Dr. 90210 himself as he made a human pin-cushion out of former Mr. World Bill Grant, using his patented techniques and rejuvenating/ wrinkle removing formula.
Look for these interviews, pre-judging, and night show finals with commentary from yours truly, and more right here on Bodybuilding.com, the industry leader in bringing you the best of the IFBB.