This year, the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic demonstrated, once again, that it is arguably the biggest and best bodybuilding show currently in existence.
By all accounts, the caliber of bodybuilding athlete was better than last year, and the entertainment value was second to none. It is no secret that the Arnold Classic is the biggest sporting event in the world, with athletes from many codes entertaining and competing.
Indeed, over 18,000 athletes took part in this year's Arnold, with nearly all of the Olympic Games events featured. Of course, the real draw card was the men's bodybuilding event. Most of the bodybuilding's big names battled it out for the prestigious title of men's champion. Although the placing's were controversial in the eyes of many, no argument could be made for a lack of quality among the physiques on stage. In other words, no one needed to ask the question, "where is the beef".
Arnold Predictions With Shawn Ray,
Jay Cutler & More
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The Top Six
1st Dexter Jackson:
For the second year running, Jacksonville Florida's
Dexter Jackson won the Arnold Classic, and amazed everyone with his proportional and incredibly conditioned, physique.
Taking into consideration the amount of size situated at either end of it, his waist appeared to be the smallest on stage. He also possessed noticeable improvements in leg mass.
However, although Dexter certainly was worthy of the title Arnold Classic champion 2006, many felt his package did not display a sufficient enough improvement to take the top placing.
Bob & Dexter Jackson
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2nd Branch Warren:
Branch Warren continues his rise to the top of the bodybuilding ladder with an impressive second placing at this Arnold, his first contest for 2006.
Blessed with, pound for pound, the most massively proportional physique on the Arnold stage, Branch could, in the view of many, easily have switched placing's with Dexter.
Particularly noteworthy are Branch's legs which surely have to be the best in bodybuilding currently. This is not to take anything away from the rest of his physique, which is very thick and striated.
Everything seemed to be in place and the conditioning was, once again, perfect. Branch, if he remains consistent with his conditioning (which should not be a problem for him), should place very highly in all his 2006 events.
3rd Victor Martinez:
The man Ronnie Coleman heralds as his eventual successor, won over the judges with his stunning muscularity, taking third for his efforts.
Victor has a physique loaded with quality muscle; accentuated with beautiful lines. Although Victor displayed one of his best package's at this Arnold, he is another who could easily have switched places with one or two others below him.
4th Gustavo Badell:
The "freaken rican" could not better his 2005 third placing, at this years Arnold. He did however bring his usual massive physique, complete with some of the best arms and legs in the sport.
According to reports, he was not holding his usual conditioning, and this might have cost him a few placing's.
5th Melvin Anthony:
With wonderful symmetry and a classical, yet innovative posing style, Melvin Anthony slotted into fifth. Melvin really does have one of the more beautiful physiques on stage today, but to make the top three in a contest as competitive as the Arnold, he may have to play the size game to match the Gustavo's and Branch's of this world.
6th Lee Priest:
Lee came on stage replete with Superman costume, and showed the audience the spectacular changes he has made for the 2006 competitive year. Having been in bodybuilding for so long (Lee is one of the only guys from the early 1990s still competing), it is amazing that he is able to make such progress.
An overall improvement in mass (especially in the back) and a newfound ability to achieve overall conditioning has put Lee among the top 2006 competitors. His placing at this year's Arnold was one of the more controversial, as he had edged out in terms of conditioning and overall muscularity, at least two of those placed ahead of him.
One has the feeling that the 2006 Arnold Classic, although better the last year in terms of overall standard of physique and enormity of scale, disappointed a number of fans with placing's (in the men's event) that were not entirely accurate. Some had the top six almost in reverse order, while others felt some of the higher placed athletes received gifts based on their status as competitors. I will remember this Arnold as being the best ever, with the largest number of high caliber athletes on stage.