2006 Mr. Olympia Preview - Champions New & Old Taking The Stage!

With the caliber of athletes on show, outside of first and second, there is no clear cut pecking order... See who I have listed from first to last. Will Jay take over as King? Read on for the details!

With a line-up of at least 18 highly ranked bodybuilding champions, the 2006 Mr. Olympia proves to be one of the most heavily contested ever. With the caliber of athletes on show, it would be fair to say that, outside of first and second - positions that should be occupied by Ronnie and Jay, once again - there is no clear cut pecking order, meaning the outcome in terms of top ten placements probably will come down to conditioning on the part of the athlete.

All of the athletes competing will consider themselves worthy of top ten placements and, indeed, any minor miscalculation in peaking to absolute perfection might see a completely different outcome than would otherwise be expected. Staged at the Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, September 28-October 1, the 2006 Olympia weekend will showcase bodybuilding at its best.

The very best champions in their very best shape will once again pose down to determine who will be the greatest bodybuilder in the world. Last year Ronnie Coleman won his eighth Sandow, pushing perennial runner-up, Jay Cutler, into second place for the fourth time running.

Although still the favorite to win it all this year, Ronnie has the added pressure of living up to the expectation that he will make history by winning a ninth title, one more than the record held by himself and Lee Haney. Jay hopes to stop him in his tracks.

Many feel this will be Jay's year to win as they feel Ronnie is getting older and Jay is hungrier. However, Ronnie has repeatedly proven he has the superior physique and knows exactly what it takes to come out on top. Concerning his placement at the 2006 Olympia, Ronnie said in a recent interview:

"The only way I could lose it is if after they hand
me the trophy, some lunatic jumps onto the stage,
grabs it out of my hand, and takes off."

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In other words, Ronnie is extremely confident of another win. Third through to ten - the other positions that really matter - will possibly be determined in the usual manner, with shape, muscularity, posing and conditioning being key contributing factors. However, with most of the athletes fitting the criteria for what a top ten physique should look like, it is anyone's guess as to who will place where.

Will the judges favor mass and go with Branch Warren and Dennis James for the top six or will aesthetics rule with Melvin Anthony and David Henry taking the top spots. Of course there is Gustavo, Gunter and Martinez (second, third and fourth respectively at last years event), who will all be looking to improve on their previous efforts.

One man who will push all three will be Dexter Jackson, who is coming off a win at the Arnold Classic. He is one who many feel might signal a new direction in what constitutes the perfect bodybuilding physique and be rewarded accordingly. All in all, the 2006 Olympia will be a major fight with so many great physiques present. I'm sure there will be many who disagree with the final result, but based on the quality of the 2006 competitor list, it must be the hardest job in the world judging this show.


The Competitors

A brief overview of each competitor is given below. They are ranked in order of where they are likely to place.


1. Ronnie Coleman.

    As the defending champion who has had many years to perfect his pre-competition preparation, Ronnie Coleman has proven he is the consummate professional and will not give up his title without a fight.

Ronnie
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Ronnie Coleman.

    With eight Olympia wins and a 15-year involvement in bodybuilding at the elite level, very few have the experience and muscle maturity he enjoys. It has been said many times that Ronnie is in a class of his own, and come September 29 he should, once again, prove this statement right as he takes his ninth Olympia title.


2. Jay Cutler.

    As a four-time Mr. Olympia runner up - to Ronnie Coleman on each occasion - Jay Cutler must want this year's title more than anything. Three times an Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic champion, and arguably the most popular bodybuilder in the world, Jay, should he put it all together, is thought to be the only man who can beat Ronnie.


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Is Opportunity Calling?

    Jay, who, at last year's Olympia won the best wheels award for his amazing leg development, and who is one of the only men who comes close to matching Ronnie in overall size, feels this will be his year. Should Ronnie be slightly off (highly unlikely) Jay could be in with a good chance. If he can match Ronnie from the back while bringing a better-conditioned package, it could be lights out for the Big Nasty.


3. Dexter Jackson.

    After a one-year hiatus from the Olympia stage, Dexter Jackson is back to reclaim his position as third best bodybuilder in the world. Earlier this year Dexter won the Arnold Classic with a physique many felt had improved only marginally from the year he had off to make the changes necessary to overtake the likes of Ronnie and Jay.


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Dexter Jackson @ The 2006 Arnold.

    Having promised, however, to bring to the 2006 Olympia the kind of shape he is renowned for - beautiful, full muscle bellies and flowing lines reminiscent of 90s champion Flex Wheeler - Dexter is a sure pick for top three. Dexter's only major threat will be Gustavo Badell, who beat him for third the last time they met. With no controversial posing round in 2006, many are expecting an entirely different outcome.


4. Gustavo Badell.

    It could be argued that Gustavo Badell has made more progress as a pro bodybuilder than any other in recent history. From 97 through 2002, he would routinely place outside of the top ten regardless of the contest entered. Since 2004, however, he has worked his way into the top three at the Mr. Olympia twice, as well as winning several pro shows to signal his arrival as a major threat.


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Gustavo Badell @ The 2005 Olympia.

    Every year, Gustavo brings a harder and better-proportioned package to the Olympia. If he remains true to form we can expect to see him placing a least fourth this year.


5. Victor Martinez.

    It seems Victor Martinez has the potential to go all the way to ultimately win the Olympia some day. Last year he took fifth, one spot ahead of the massive Dennis James, and impressed with his proportion and size. With Victor nothing seems to be lacking, except for the necessary overall size to defeat a Ronnie or Jay.

Martinez
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Victor Martinez.

    Dexter is a genetic freak with probably the best shape, and the smallest waist (on par with Melvin Anthony's) onstage so it would take someone similar to beat him. Pound for pound, Gustavo has more size and thickness than Victor. So what does Victor have to do to achieve an Olympia win, an accomplishment Ronnie Coleman feels is his natural destiny?

    To keep packing on the size while keeping everything in proportion seems his only hope. This year though, he is likely to place fifth.


6. Branch Warren.

    The new mass monster on the scene, Branch Warren, has shown time and time again that if brings his supremely conditioned (reminiscent of Dorian Yates in his prime), muscle-packed physique at its best, he cannot be denied. Having won two pro shows while placing highly in countless others during his relatively short career, Branch has shown he has what it takes to go all the way.


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Branch Warren.

    Having placed a respectable eighth at last years Olympia, Branch has since made several key improvements to his physique (most notably increased back width and biceps size), which enabled him to beat both Gustavo Badell and Melvin Anthony at the Arnold Classic earlier this year, an event where he place second to Dexter Jackson. On this basis it is realistic to conclude that Branch will place in the top six at the 2006 Olympia.


7. Dennis James.

    Another competitor who cannot be denied in terms of sheer muscle size and conditioning, Dennis James is one of the most impressive bodybuilders ever. His lack of Dexter Jackson-like symmetry has let him down in the past, but his overall package has proven to be among the very best (Dennis placed 4th at the 2003 Olympia and 6th at the 2005 version).


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Dennis James.

    Look for Dennis to overtake Gunter (he is just simply a better bodybuilder) and land in seventh. Based on the improvements made by several of his closed competitors, he may not make the top six on this occasion, but one can never rule him out.


8. Gunter Schlierkamp.

    Gunter routinely places toward the top of the Olympia table (last year he made top four), but while he brings the same kind of package year in year out, taking into account changes in conditioning, other competitors are making dramatic improvements and holding seemingly more size given their shorter physiques.


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Gunter Schlierkamp.

    Standing alongside his fellow competitors Gunter, although a very large athlete, does not seem to have the necessary mass to do any real damage. He does, however, have great shape and conditioning and should continue to place in the top ten.


9. Melvin Anthony.

    It is difficult to place an athlete as great as Melvin Anthony toward the bottom of the top ten, but with such a great line-up of competitors posing down in one of the most competitive Olympia's ever, he might just struggle to match it with the mass monsters. Melvin is known for his nice lines, great symmetry and stunning posing ability as well as a good level of size. However, it is also known that at the Olympia, size is the general rule of thumb.


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Melvin Anthony.

    If the big boys arrive in shape, the smaller competitors are usually placed out of the running. Based on where the top eight in this report have placed in relation to Melvin on previous occasions, and the level of size it takes to place highly at the Olympia, it is predicted Melvin will take ninth.


10. Darrem Charles.

    As with Melvin Anthony, it is sad to place someone the caliber of Darrem Charles out of the top spots. Winner of countless pro shows and one of the most aesthetically pleasing bodybuilders to take to the stage ever, Darrem never seems to get the respect he deserves when competing at the Olympia.

Darrem Charles Darrem Charles
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Darrem Charles.
Video: Posing Routine: Windows Media (8.6 MB)

    He will still impress with his great shape and posing ability, but is unlikely to make it among those who will rewarded for their size, shape and conditioning. It seems the judges pick the total package (size, cuts and shape) and all things being equal a larger guy will win.


11. Tony Freeman.

    Speaking of a larger guy, Tony Freeman is on a roll right now having come off his first pro win at the Europa Pro. Tony has potential written all over him and is starting to get the recognition he deserves. Recently he boldly stated he would cause some major damage at the 2006 Olympia, even going so far as to draw a comparison between himself and current champion Ronnie Coleman.


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Toney Freeman.
Video: Posing Routine: Windows Media (8.1 MB)

    Given his lack of experience competing at the Olympia and the fact it showcases the very best bodybuilders in the world - the best of the best - Tony will likely place 11th. Although look for him to move his way up the rankings and into the top six in future years, based on his undeniable size and conditioning.


12. David Henry.

    Often referred to as one of the classiest bodybuilders around due to his perfectly proportioned physique and exceptional conditioning and presentation, David has shown he can place toward the top (he took second to Lee Priest at the Iron Man earlier this year).


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David Henry.
Video: Posing Routine: Windows Media (6.25 MB)

    David took 14th at last years Olympia and with the improvements he has made in overall muscle size (his back is seen as one of the best in the sport), he should move up two spots this year. Again, it is hard putting someone as talented as David out of the top ten, but this is the Olympia.


13. Johnnie Jackson.

    Last weekend Johnnie won his first pro show, The Montreal Pro, in splendid fashion, presenting probably his best package to date. Based on his past Olympia history and the caliber of athletes competing in this years version, he is likely to place disappointing 13th.


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Johnnie Jackson.

    This says more about the other athletes than it does about Johnnie, as he clearly has one of the best physiques around (amazing overall thickness and the best back and trap development this side of Ronnie Coleman). However, for whatever reason, the Olympia has a history of not showing love to certain bodybuilders, and Johnnie happens to be one of these men.


14. Quincy Taylor.

    Another bodybuilder to have made amazing progress is Quincy Taylor. 2006 has been Quincy's best year to date with a second at the Europa Pro and a third at the Montreal Pro. Quincy will be one of the largest men onstage at the Olympia and will capture the judges' attention with his presence. However, it is doubtful he will place in the top ten given he placed last in the 2005 version and this year the competition will be tougher.


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Quincy Taylor.


15. Ronnie Rockel.

    Having placed 17th at this event last year, many felt Ronnie Rockel was the most overlooked athlete onstage. With his first pro win at the Australian Pro earlier this year he will be determined to achieve a better result at this years Big Dance.

    Although he has great shape and usually presents some of the best conditioning onstage, Ronnie will have his work cut out for him. To best Vince Taylor (like he did at the Australian pro), Mustafa Mohammad and Bill Wilmore to take 15th will be a realistic achievement for Ronnie.


16. Vince Taylor.

    Previous Masters Olympia winner and champion bodybuilder of the 90's, Vince made his comeback at this year's Australian Pro where he placed 3rd behind Ronnie Rockel and Lee Priest. Although still possessing a great physique with some of the biggest arms and calves in the sport, Vince will be up against a whole new level of competitor at the 2006 Olympia so it is unlikely he will make the kind impact he made in the 90's.

Vince
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Vince Taylor.


17. Mustafa Mohammad.

    Mustafa has had mixed results over recent years, placing poorly in several shows due to conditioning issues and possibly the somewhat blocky appearance of his physique. Last year he placed tenth. This year the competition is of a vastly higher caliber and he will need to bring his A-game if he expects to place toward the top.


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Mustafa Mohammad.

    To be fair though, Mustafa is one massive individual, with probably the largest legs onstage and impressive, probably unparalleled chest thickness. If there is one athlete who will climb from their low ranked position to the top ten it will be him.


18. Bill Wilmore.

    With fifth place finishes at this years Colorado Pro and New York Pro shows, Bill Wilmore showed that he has some improvements to make - notably on the areas of thigh sweep and overall mass - if he wishes to compete with the seasoned veterans at the Olympia. Bill can use his showing at the 2006 Olympia to learn more about the sport, as he, like Freeman, has a big future if he realizes his potential.

Bill Wilmore Bill Wilmore
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Bill Wilmore.
Video: Posing Routine: Windows Media (6.25 MB)


Conclusion

Overall, the 2006 Olympia will be highly contested with most of its athletes being high caliber competitors. No obscure names are among the assortment of champions who will line-up on September 29 to pose down for bodybuilding's biggest prize.

With such a competitive line-up, the show will be very hard to judge and is sure to bring its share of controversy given the closeness of certain competitors. One thing is for sure though: it will be another epic show, which will be talked about for some time.

It will also be historically significant in that, should Ronnie win a ninth title, a new precedent in bodybuilding superiority will be set, one that will take a long time, if ever, to surpass.