Bullman Dubs Phil Heath To Unseat Jay Cutler As Mr. Olympia

The 2011 Olympia is finally here! 27 bodybuilders from across the globe gather at in Las Vegas, Nevada to vie for the crown jewel of bodybuilding. Who will be the next Mr. Olympia?

The Mr. Olympia will be contested for the 47th time September 17, 2011 in the Orleans Arena of the Palms Casino in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada. I don't think even Joe Weider could have envisioned just how big the Olympia weekend would become. Tens of thousands of fans will venture through the expo. Hundreds of athletes will compete in various bodybuilding and fitness events all held in association with various sponsors.

To think, this started in 1965 as a way to offer Mr. Universe winners an avenue to compete after they reached what was then the pinnacle of bodybuilding. Mr. Olympia has evolved into an entire Olympia weekend; now Mr. Weider's weekend is the most prestigious bodybuilding competition in the world. Besides the expo, this extravaganza boasts the grand finale of the world's greatest 202-pound bodybuilders, female bodybuilders, fitness, physique and bikini competitions. Each contest of the weekend is now considered the pinnacle of its division.

In 2011, with one last qualifying event remaining before the bodybuilding world converges in that little oasis in the dessert we call "Sin City," already 30 competitors have qualified.

However, not all will grace the Olympia stage September 16. Evan Centopani chose to sit out this year's Olympia to rest his body before going on an all out assault for 2012. Branch Warren suffered a season ending injury and Flex Lewis decided to compete in the 202-pound division.

This still leaves us with 27 athletes ready to step on stage in Las Vegas, plus one final qualifying event in Tijuana, Mexico. Below I outline how all qualified competitors have performed in previous Olympias and so far in the 2011 season.

Fouad Abiad (Canada)
Previous Olympia performance - 17th

The Canadian Colossus made it to the Olympia stage once before and failed to impress the judges; he finished outside of the Top-15. He qualified early on in the season at the Flex Pro in Santa Monica, California with an impressive 3rd-place finish, forcing Dennis Wolfe into 4th-place.

Abiad displays great thickness and balance, but will need to be on point if he intends to make a splash in this tough lineup.

Fouad isn't a frontrunner, but that doesn't mean he'll hang back.
Fouad isn't a frontrunner, but that doesn't mean he'll hang back.
Fouad isn't a frontrunner, but that doesn't mean he'll hang back.

Troy Alves (USA)
Previous Olympia performance - 15th, 16th, 15th, 15th, 8th

The 44-year old IFBB veteran competed twice this year, and won both times! He won the Europa Battle of Champions and the Phoenix Pro (where he showed his home crowd he still has plenty of gas left in tank).

On the scale, Troy is much lighter than previous years, but his conditioning and lines have improved and he displays a physique that is hard to fault. If he times it right, Alves could see his lower body conditioning match that of his upper body, especially from the rear and find himself in the Top-10!

To win Olympia, Troy will need help from the aging gods.
To win Olympia, Troy will need help from the aging gods.
To win Olympia, Troy will need help from the aging gods.

Lionel Beyeke (France)
Mr. Olympia Debut

The Frenchman makes his first appearance on the Olympia stage. Although he finished as high as second in Toronto, he needs to improve his conditioning dramatically from his previous outings if he wants to battle with the big boys in Las Vegas.

He displays balance to his physique and reminds me somewhat of Kai Greene 20 or 30 pounds ago. I think this guy is one to watch in the future, but he'll find it hard to be competitive on this ultimate stage.

Lionel marvels at his French connection … ThunderCats HO!
Lionel marvels at his French connection … ThunderCats HO!
Lionel marvels at his French connection … ThunderCats HO!

Robert Burneika (USA)
Mr. Olympia Debut

This is Burneika's first year as an IFBB pro and he already grabbed a qualification for the biggest bodybuilding contest on the planet. He made his professional debut earlier in the year at the New York Pro with a 5th-place finish.

He has good, quality mass, and displays a well-balanced physique. However, this is the toughest show on earth and Burneika needs to be in the best shape of his life just to stand a chance of making it to the Top-15.

Robert is new to Olympus, a peak so high mere mortals can't ascend.
Robert is new to Olympus, a peak so high mere mortals can't ascend.
Robert is new to Olympus, a peak so high mere mortals can't ascend.

Evan Centopani (USA)
Mr. Olympia Debut - NOT COMPETING

Evan qualified for the Olympia at the beginning of the year by beating former Mr. Olympia Dexter Jackson at the Flex Pro and again with a Top-3 finish at the Arnold. However, he is taking time off and sitting the 2011 Olympia out. This kid actually has what it takes to become Mr. Olympia.

When I saw him win the Flex Pro earlier in the year, his conditioning and balance reminded me of Dorian [Yates]! I look forward to seeing him on stage in 2012.

Centopani was a late scratch from the Olympia.
Centopani was a late scratch from the Olympia.
Centopani was a late scratch from the Olympia.

Brandon Curry (USA)
Mr. Olympia Debut

Finally! Curry won his pro card back in 2008, was endorsed by BSN and dubbed 'The Prodigy.' He waited until 2010 to make his debut as an IFBB Professional and failed to impress. He nabbed a 3rd-place finish at the Toronto Pro to qualify for this year's Olympia.

Curry has great symmetry and his physique is reminiscent of athletes such as Flex Wheeler. If he gets his conditioning where it needs to be for this level of competition, he could find himself fighting for a spot in the Top-10.

The Prodigy has yet to flavor IFBB with his particular spice.
The Prodigy has yet to flavor IFBB with his particular spice.
The Prodigy has yet to flavor IFBB with his particular spice.

Jay Cutler (USA)
Previous Olympia performance - 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 8th, 14th

What is there to say about Jay Cutler that has not already been said. The man makes his 11th appearance on the Mr. Olympia stage, second only to Dexter Jackson in most contested Olympias. He placed 2nd four times and took home the Sandow Trophy four times. Does he have what it takes to take home yet another Sandow? Of course!

He is a fan favorite and a lot of the judges seem to like what he brings to the stage. He will have to bring his 'A-game' in 2011. We have seen him dethroned once already, and the competition is even tougher this year. Phil Heath is hot on his heels. It will take Jay's best to earn his fifth Olympia title.

Cutler is so huge he makes Heracles run home to daddy.
Cutler is so huge he makes Heracles run home to daddy.
Cutler is so huge he makes Heracles run home to daddy.

Marius Dohne (South Africa)
Mr. Olympia Debut

The South African made his pro debut at the New York Pro earlier this year and finished a respectable 9th. He then went on to compete at the PBW Pro where he brought some serious mass combined with good symmetry and conditioning to take top honors.

This guy is going to be one to watch.

Dohne's lats are so wide he can't ride most rollercoasters.
Dohne's lats are so wide he can't ride most rollercoasters.
Dohne's lats are so wide he can't ride most rollercoasters.

Toney Freeman (USA)
Previous Olympia performance - 9th, 8th, 14th, 7th

The X Man can never be counted out. The 40-something IFBB veteran had a rough start to the 2011 season, finishing outside the Top-5 for the most part. At 45-years old, most athletes look at retirement, but not Freeman.

He turned up in Dallas with the conditioning we have to expect from the X Man and qualified in style, winning his 7th IFBB professional title.

Retirement to Freeman is like soap for cowboys … maybe later.
Retirement to Freeman is like soap for cowboys … maybe later.
Retirement to Freeman is like soap for cowboys … maybe later.

Kai Greene (USA)
Previous Olympia performance - 7th, 4th

Kai has a lot to prove here on the Olympia stage after a poor performance last year (he failed to make it to the Top-6). Because of the loss, he had to re-qualify for the 2011 Olympia. He sat out the Arnold, which he won both in 2009 and 2010 and set his sight on the New York Pro, which he won.

Kai added a massive amount of muscle over the last two years, but his bulk has yet to mature, causing his conditioning to suffer. If he can replicate his conditioning form his 2009 Arnold win, we could see Kai in the Top-3.

Greene is so ready to beat Cutler even we can taste it.
Greene is so ready to beat Cutler even we can taste it.
Greene is so ready to beat Cutler even we can taste it.

Phil Heath (USA)
Previous Olympia performance - 2nd, 5th, 3rd

"The Gift," as he is known was without a doubt the No. 1 bodybuilder on the Olympia stage in 2010. That being said, it was not the opinion of the judges there that day; he took second to Jay Cutler. Since I first judged Phil Heath back in 2006, when he won his professional debut, I knew along with the rest of the bodybuilding world that this guy was something special.

He was and is the heir apparent to the Olympia throne. I believe the only person that can stop "The Gift" from becoming Mr. Olympia is Phil Heath.

Heath is so tough he crushes dumbbells and sprinkles them on salad.
Heath is so tough he crushes dumbbells and sprinkles them on salad.
Heath is so tough he crushes dumbbells and sprinkles them on salad.

Marcus Haley (USA)
Previous Olympia performance - 13th, 16th

I love watching this guy onstage; he sets the crowd on fire with his posing routines, and just enjoys every second he is on stage. A few years ago, a ruptured patellar tendon almost ended Haley's bodybuilding career. Although his quad is slightly smaller, and he has a noticeable scar, one would find it hard to believe that he sustained such a traumatic injury.

He qualified for this year's Olympia with a second place finish at the Europa Show of Champions in Orlando. If Marcus can maximize his conditioning and keep his abs under control he could definitely find himself in the Top-10.

Marcus (Aurelius) was emperor of Rome, but Gods win the Olympia.
Marcus (Aurelius) was emperor of Rome, but Gods win the Olympia.
Marcus (Aurelius) was emperor of Rome, but Gods win the Olympia.

Dexter Jackson (USA)
Previous Olympia performance - 4th, 3rd, 1st, 3rd, 4th, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 8th, 9th, 9th

The Blade has been a Top-4 competitor for the last eight years. He placed 3rd three times and took one Sandow home to Florida with him. Jackson competed three times this year. He placed 2nd in Santa Monica at the Flex Pro, 5th in Columbus at the Arnold and won his only contest of the year in Essan, Germany at the FIBO Pro.

This brings his total number of IFBB Pro wins to 13. Although Jackson is coming into the twilight years of his professional career, he is still a force to be reckoned with. He will have a battle on his hands to make the Top-3, but he is definitely capable. I feel he will battle it out to stay in the Top-6.

Jackson was the last to beat Cutler, but can he beat Greene? Heath?
Jackson was the last to beat Cutler, but can he beat Greene? Heath?
Jackson was the last to beat Cutler, but can he beat Greene? Heath?

Johnnie Jackson (USA)
Previous Olympia performance - 11th, 12th, 9th, 13th, 11th, 14th, 11th

Jackson struggled with conditioning the last couple of seasons. This year we have seen him finish in the Top-3 on two occasions. Jackson's thickness is almost unrivaled in the IFBB; his years as a powerlifter are paying off dividends.

Should Jackson nail his conditioning, we may well see him place in the Top-10 for the second time in his professional career.

Johnnie Jackson hasn't beat Cutler, or Jackson, Green or Heath.
Johnnie Jackson hasn't beat Cutler, or Jackson, Green or Heath.
Johnnie Jackson hasn't beat Cutler, or Jackson, Green or Heath.

Michael Kefalianos (Australia)
Previous Olympia performance - 16th

The thunder from down under is rarely out of shape, and displays some of the best conditioning I have seen in a long time on an IFBB stage. That being said, his physique is not all that pleasing from a symmetry standpoint, but man can he get in shape!

He qualified for the O with a 3rd-place finish in his native Australian Grand Prix, but with a few more improvements to his physique, greater arm development in particular, he might see a change in the final placings.

Can the down under thunder capture lightning in a bottle?
Can the down under thunder capture lightning in a bottle?
Can the down under thunder capture lightning in a bottle?

Marc Lavoie (Canada)
Mr. Olympia Debut

This is Lovoie's first year qualifying for the Olympia since he turned pro at the North America in 2008. His physique displays some nice lines, but lacks in the conditioning department.

Although he managed a 2nd-place finish at the Europa Battle of Champions, the Olympia is a whole new game. Lavoie is going to have a hard time breaking the Top-15 in this line up.

Lavoie may be left wanting when the finals train splits off.
Lavoie may be left wanting when the finals train splits off.
Lavoie may be left wanting when the finals train splits off.

James 'Flex' Lewis (United Kingdom)
Mr. Olympia Debut

Although the 202 superstar qualified for the open class with a 3rd-place finish at the IFBB Pro Mr. Europe, Flex decided to sit the open class out and concentrate on fighting for the title in the 202 division.

With the improvements he made in the past two years, Flex will be a formidable competitor and will be hard to beat in the 202 division. I have no doubt that had he decided to go into the open class, he would a definite Top-10 finisher.

Flex has the flash to honor the Queen Mother.
Flex has the flash to honor the Queen Mother.
Flex has the flash to honor the Queen Mother.

Victor Martinez (Dominican Republic)
Previous Olympia performance - 8th, 6th, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 9th

Martinez was once dubbed Ronnie Coleman's heir apparent by Ronnie himself, but the former future Mr. Olympia has had an uphill battle since his 2nd- place finish in 2007. He tore his patellar tendon, and then lost his sister in a horrendous homicide. This year we have seen a whole new Victor.

He took a 3rd-place finish at the Arnold, which he could have easily won. He showed the bodybuilding world that he was not to be counted out just yet. Martinez means business; he took the rest of the year off to prepare for the Olympia.

Look out for him to battle for a place in the Top-3.

Martinez had a rough two years. Will his rededicated efforts reap fruition?
Martinez had a rough two years. Will his rededicated efforts reap fruition?
Martinez had a rough two years. Will his rededicated efforts reap fruition?

Frank McGrath (Canada)
Mr. Olympia Debut

Since winning his pro card almost a decade ago, McGrath competed a mere handful of times. He finished outside the Top-10 in his first few shows, but this year proved to be a different story for the former Canadian National Champion. He took 4th in Toronto before qualify for this year's Olympia at the PBW Pro.

Although McGrath looks good when standing alone, his thick shoulders and arms give him that 'hardcore' bodybuilder look, I think he will be found wanting come Olympia time.

McGrath has been Frank about his hardcore status.
McGrath has been Frank about his hardcore status.
McGrath has been Frank about his hardcore status.

Cedric McMillan (USA)
Mr. Olympia Debut

When McMillan won his pro card at the 2008 Nationals, I thought to myself, damn, is that Lee Haney? The guy was as impressive a sight as I have seen. He took 1st place at his first pro show of 2011, the Europa Show of Champions in Orlando, but later fell to 11th place at the NY Pro.

How McMillan will perform at the Olympia will be directly related to which version of him we see in Vegas. He has what it takes to make the Top-10, he had just better bring his A game.

McMillan joins a tough crowd of American bodybuilders in Las Vegas.
McMillan joins a tough crowd of American bodybuilders in Las Vegas.
McMillan joins a tough crowd of American bodybuilders in Las Vegas.

Evgeny Mishin (Russia)
Previous Olympia performance - 17th

This is Mishin's second time qualifying for the Olympia in as many years, his physique needs to be 100 percent in order for him to impress enough to move up in the rankings in any contest. Since turning pro in 2003, Mishin improved year over year.

It took until 2007 before he even placed in an IFBB show. This guy has what you call 'True Grit'. This year's Olympia has a huge line up; I fear he may get lost in the crowd.

Without vast improvements, Evgeny will be Mishin the finals.
Without vast improvements, Evgeny will be Mishin the finals.
Without vast improvements, Evgeny will be Mishin the finals.

Ed Nunn (USA)
Previous Olympia performance - 16th

The man with the smallest waist in bodybuilding since Brian Buchannan found himself on the podium twice this year, with two Top-3 finishes to date. He missed the Top-15 in his Olympia debut and I feel he will have a fight on his hands to land a place there this year.

 Nunn can compare to the bodybuilding elite. Can Ed hang close?
 Nunn can compare to the bodybuilding elite. Can Ed hang close?
Nunn can compare to the bodybuilding elite. Can Ed hang close?

Shawn Rhoden (USA)
Mr. Olympia Debut

This will be Rhoden's third professional bodybuilding contest of his career. He failed to make the Top-15 in his pro debut, but returned to Dallas for the Europa Super Show to take 3rd place to get the all-important invite to the Orleans Arena at the Palms.

He has great balance and near-perfect symmetry, but he lacks the size and muscularity to cause any damage.

Rhoden is only in his third pro contest, so he best be humble.
Rhoden is only in his third pro contest, so he best be humble.
Rhoden is only in his third pro contest, so he best be humble.

Craig Richardson (USA)
Previous Olympia performance - 18th, 13th, 17th, 16th

This is by far the most successful season in almost a decade of competing for Richardson. He won his first professional contest at the Toronto Pro. He only managed to break into the Top-15 once in four previous appearances at the Olympia.

He has always been let down in the mass department, weighing in at 210 pounds at 5-foot-7, out-muscled by 15-to-20 pounds by the likes of Ronny Rockel (who is of similar height). Richardson's weapons against the bigger men are conditioning and symmetry.

If he can keep the momentum going in his training, I think he may be in with a chance of battling for a Top-10 spot.

Richardson had a great year, but he's never cracked the Top-10.
Richardson had a great year, but he's never cracked the Top-10.
Richardson had a great year, but he's never cracked the Top-10.

Ronny Rockel (Germany)
Previous Olympia performance - 6th, 7th, 14th, 11th, 16th, 18th

The German Giant Killer makes his 7th appearance at the Olympia. He started his year off with a bang, winning with his second career IFBB win at the IFBB Mr. Europe. Rockel followed that with two 2nd-place finishes before setting his sights on Vegas. Rockel is known for his symmetry and has only recently nailed his conditioning; he was rewarded for it with a place in the Top-6 at the 2010 Olympia.

However, I feel he let his symmetry slip and started to lose control over his abdomen as of late. With the caliber of athlete competing in Vegas this year, nothing can be left to chance. Rockel belongs in the Top-6, but if he lets his conditioning slip or his posing relax too much he could just slip back in the places.

Rock is stuck between sixth and 18th place.
Rock is stuck between sixth and 18th place.
Rock is stuck between sixth and 18th place.

Branch Warren (USA)
Previous Olympia performance - 3rd, 2nd, 12th, 8th

What a year the Texan was having. He won the Arnold Classic after so many years being deemed 'most muscular' but losing out on the overall victory. He went on to win the British Grand Prix to further cement his place as a serious threat to Cutler. Unfortunately tragedy struck when Branch went to guest pose in Atlanta, Georgia.

While running to his car, he slipped in the rain and tore his quadriceps tendon. The accident took Branch out of this year's Olympia. It's a devastating blow, but Branch vowed to defend his Arnold title in 2012. Had Branch not been injured, he would most certainly have been a threat to the title. He will be missed onstage this year.

Warren slipped, tore his quad and misses Olympia.
Warren slipped, tore his quad and misses Olympia.
Warren slipped, tore his quad and misses Olympia.

Ben White (USA)
Mr. Olympia Debut

White had a bit of a disappointing 2011 season, failing to make the cut in New York, and missing the Top-10 in Toronto. However, he managed to grab a qualifying place at the Europa.

If White runs up in the type of condition I have seen him in the past, he may have a shot to be named one of the world's Top-15 bodybuilders.

White struggled this season, like a fat kid in a snow drift, but Ben's not fat.
White struggled this season, like a fat kid in a snow drift, but Ben's not fat.
White struggled this season, like a fat kid in a snow drift, but Ben's not fat.

Roelly Winklaar
(Netherlands) Previous Olympia performance - 14th

Roelly has to be the biggest disappointment for me from last year's Olympia. He built such great momentum placing 7th in his pro debut at the Arnold, 3rd in Australia and winning the NY Pro.

His physique reminds somewhat of [Kevin] Levrone, great shoulders and arms, full muscle bellies all around, good balance and symmetry. If he can nail his conditioning, Winklaar could be a Top-6 contender, but it seems he has struggled to hit his peak of late.

Winklaar winces every time he poses, that's how he works his zygomaticus.
Winklaar winces every time he poses, that's how he works his zygomaticus.
Winklaar winces every time he poses, that's how he works his zygomaticus.

Dennis Wolf (Germany)
Previous Olympia performance - 5th, 16th, 4th, 5th, 16th

Who afraid of the big bad Wolf? Well it depends on which one howls into Vegas September 16. After a woeful Olympia performance in 2009, Wolf dropped from 4th to 16th, he went back to the drawing board and displayed a Top-6 worthy physique in 2010.

The 2011 season got off to a rocky start for him when he was ousted from the Top-3 by Fouad Abiad, Dexter Jackson and Evan Centopani. He came back a few weeks later to take 2nd at the Arnold and then won down under at the Australian Pro.

Should the Wolf we all know and love step on stage in the Orleans Arena, we could possibly see a new Mr. Olympia crowned.

The Wolf will seriously bite you, but the moon will wane by Saturday night.
The Wolf will seriously bite you, but the moon will wane by Saturday night.
The Wolf will seriously bite you, but the moon will wane by Saturday night.

Hidetada Yamagishi (Japan)
Previous Olympia performance - 10th, 9th, 13th

The man from the land of the rising sun, Hidetada has become a fan favorite on the IFBB Pro circuit. His classic lines and graceful posing are reminiscent of the good ol' days when Kevin Levrone and Shawn Ray were trying to beat out England's King Dorian. In the old days, Hidetada would have already qualified for this year's Olympia by way of his 10th-place finish in 2010. However, this is no longer the case.

Hidetada had to qualify for this year's Olympia by way of his two runner-up spots at both the PBW Championships and the Phoenix Pro. I judged him in Phoenix and felt he was lucky to place in the Top-3; he didn't display the crisp conditioning we are used to seeing from him.

With a couple of weeks still remaining before the big dance in the dessert, Hidetada has time to improve and become the competitive warrior we all know him to be. Another Top-10 finish could be in the cards.

Who says size and grace can't mix? Hidetada is Nippon's hope in Vegas.
Who says size and grace can't mix? Hidetada is Nippon's hope in Vegas.
Who says size and grace can't mix? Hidetada is Nippon's hope in Vegas.

PREDICTIONS

This is one of the toughest lineups the Mr. Olympia has had in years, maybe even since 1998 when legends such as Shawn Ray, Kevin Levrone, Flex Wheeler, Nasser El Sonbaty and Ronnie Coleman battled for the title. Two of the front runners are missing from the fray, allowing a few athletes to slide up in the rankings.

Jay Cutler is pushing on in age and he's being chased down by Phil Heath. Kai Greene has something to prove and should be in top shape (bear in mind that in top shape Greene beat Phil Heath in top shape, but neither has managed to beat Cutler). Speaking of beating Cutler, Dexter Jackson can never be counted out. The former Mr. Olympia (2008) is now in his 40s and is always a threat in any show he competes in.

Jay Cutler And Phil Heath Are Primed To Battle For The Olympia Title
Jay Cutler And Phil Heath Are Primed To Battle For The Olympia Title
Jay Cutler And Phil Heath Are Primed To Battle For The Olympia Title.

Victor Martinez is at a crossroads in his professional bodybuilding career, and knows that if he doesn't do damage this year at the Olympia, he may need to think about calling it a day. Dennis Wolfe is so focused on becoming Mr. Olympia he actually moved to Las Vegas to train for this year's event.

Predicting this show is going to be hard, but like I do every year, I will give it a try and most likely score an 85-percent accuracy. Here goes …

  1. Phil Heath
  2. Jay Cutler
  3. Dennis Wolfe
  4. Kai Greene
  5. Victor Martinez
  6. Dexter Jackson
  7. Ronny Rockel
  8. Fouad Abiad
  9. Troy Alves
  10. Hidetada Yamegishi

Although I believe Phil deserved the win last year, I think he will have improved so much this year that victory will finally be his. Jay will be in the best shape of his life, but will be ready to hand the reigns over to his protégé. Wolfe will be at his all-time best and become the threat to the title we all know he can be.

Kai's prediction is the only one that I have trouble with. I think Kai can actually turn up so good that he takes the show. But I also think that his funky posing can go against him, even though the posing round is not scored anymore. Victor and Dexter will round out the Top-6.

I feel that Rockel, Abiad, Hide and Alves will all battle each other for the last remaining places in the Top-10. Alves has the most momentum going into the show with two pro wins this season to his credit.

I for one cannot wait to see how this contest plays out Saturday September 17, 2011.



2011 Olympia Main Page



Bookmark and Share