Earthquake Warning: Pro Bodybuilding Returns To L.A.

After a one-year hiatus, IFBB Pro Bodybuilding is headed back to Southern California. Santa Monica will host the first annual IFBB Flex Pro Championships. Find out who's competing and who has the best chance of winning this inaugural event.

Article Summary:
  • Santa Monica will host the first annual IFBB Flex Pro Championships.
  • It will be held on February 19 at the Santa Monica Civic Center.
  • The three big names that stand out this year are Dexter Jackson, Dennis Wolf, and Evan Centopani.

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Earthquake Warning: Pro Bodybuilding Returns To L.A.

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After a one-year hiatus, IFBB Pro Bodybuilding is headed back to Southern California. Santa Monica will host the first annual IFBB Flex Pro Championships. Find out who's competing and who has the best chance of winning this inaugural event.

Iron Man Magazine and John Balik had promoted the IFBB Pro Iron Man in the Los Angeles area for about 20 years. The show was cancelled last year and that left "The Mecca of Bodybuilding" without a pro competition.

Flex Magazine came to the rescue and has taken over the reigns with their first annual show, which is duly called the IFBB Flex Pro Championships. It will be held on February 19 just a few miles from Venice Beach at the Santa Monica Civic Center in Santa Monica, CA.

The competition is scheduled two weeks before the Arnold Classic, which everyone knows is held in Columbus each year. Since the Flex is only two weeks before the Arnold, a few competitors will be jumping in and using it as sort of a warm-up for the big show in Ohio.

Three of those big names are none other than 2008 Mr. Olympia, Dexter Jackson; 2009 New York Pro Winner, Evan Centopani; and the big bad wolf, Dennis Wolf.


Here's The List Of Competitors:


Sizing Up The Competition

As I mentioned earlier, three big names immediately stand out in this lineup. Kai Greene was originally scheduled to compete in this show, but he has decided to take a much-needed break this spring and hit a show later in the season to re-qualify for the Olympia and then, of course, compete in the Mr.Olympia. In Greene's absence, the three to watch in this show are Dexter Jackson, Dennis Wolf and Evan Centopani with Dexter getting the nod for being the probable winner.

Dexter Jackson At The 2010 Olympia. Dexter Jackson At The 2010 Olympia.
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Dexter Jackson At The 2010 Olympia.
View More Pics Of Dexter Jackson At The 2010 Olympia.

Dexter landed in fourth place at the Mr.Olympia last fall behind Cutler, Heath, and Warren. None of those guys will be in the Flex so it's pretty safe to say that Dexter stands the best chance to win it. Jackson is known for consistency in conditioning so the chances of him coming in "off" are slim. The worst I saw Dexter was at the Arnold Classic last year and he still looked really, really good there and he improved for the Olympia later in the year.

Some people were saying the 2010 Olympia was his best combination of size, fullness and conditioning. Personally I think his showing at the 2008 Arnold Classic was his best look to date, but we're really splitting hairs when it comes to Dexter's appearances since he is so consistent.

So if Dexter looks to be the favorite for taking home the first-place prize money, who's going to land in second and third place? The top three qualify for the Mr.Olympia this fall so those are the most coveted placings in this show.

Again I'll mention the names Dennis Wolf and Evan Centopani. In all likelihood, these two should be battling for second and third place. I don't see either one of them placing ahead of Dexter and, since neither Wolf or Centaponi have stood next to each other on stage, it's not a prediction you can make based on past showings.

Evan Centopani At The 2009 New York Pro. Evan Centopani At The 2009 New York Pro.
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Evan Centopani At The 2009 New York Pro.
View More Pics Of Evan Centopani At The 2009 New York Pro.

Evan has competed only once as a pro and he won that show, which was the New York Pro in 2009. That means he's the only undefeated pro going into this event. (Does that mean anything? Not really. It's probably just a useless statistic that makes the hype sound better leading up to the show!)

Dennis Wolf redeemed himself at the 2010 Mr.Olympia with a solid fifth-place finish. After a disastrous year in 2009 where he didn't make the top fifteen at Olympia and a lackluster third-place finish at the 2010 New York Pro last May, Dennis needed a good showing at the Olympia again. It restored his confidence and gave hope to his legions of fans that the Big, Bad Wolf was not washed up and he's got plenty of gas in the tank to keep on trucking.

Dennis Wolf At The 2010 Olympia. Dennis Wolf At The 2010 Olympia.
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Dennis Wolf At The 2010 Olympia.
View More Pics Of Dennis Wolf At The 2010 Olympia.

The big question is, "Who will place higher, Evan or Dennis?" That's not an easy one to answer. Dennis hasn't been very consistent the last few years and Evan has barely got his feet wet on the pro stage. If both guys dial it in and present their best physiques to date, it'll be a tricky one to call.

It usually comes down to who has less weaknesses and more wow-factor. If Dennis is on he has the wow-factor going for him, but his calves still need work and, of course, he doesn't have much muscle tissue in the lower lats.

Evan has calves and he's got some muscle on his lower lats, but his back isn't his best body part either. His chest has been sort of flat in comparison to the rest of his physique. When it comes to maturity and stage presence, Evan is still young and growing. He's only done a handful of shows including his days as an amateur.

I think it will be very close between Evan and Dennis. If one of these guys is just a little off -- and that could very well be the case since both guys will not be pulling out all the stops until the Arnold Classic two weeks later. I'm going to stick my neck out, however, and go with Dennis in second place and Evan in third. These placings could easily flip-flop for a variety of reasons since they both are preparing for the two shows in two weeks.


Fourth, Fifth And Sixth

The three guys battling it out for fourth, fifth and sixth place will most likely be Fouad Abiad, Ben White, and Ben Pakulski. Of these three, Ben White already has an IFBB pro win under his belt. The two Canadians, Abiad and Pakulski, have placed well in pro shows and both have qualified for the Olympia in previous years. Fouad has stood on the Olympia stage and White and Pakulski have not.

Fouad Abiad At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo. Fouad Abiad At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.
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Fouad Abiad At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.
View More Pics Of Fouad Abiad At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.

Based on prior showings, I'd have to say Ben White would place highest of these three. His conditioning is great when he dials it in and he has a very complete physique. Abiad is huge. (I saw him at the Olympia Gala Party a couple years back and, let me tell you, that guy is wide!) Although he does have good size, his overall shape doesn't match White's.

Ben White At The 2010 Europa Battle of Champions. Ben White At The 2010 Europa Battle of Champions.
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Ben White At The 2010 Europa Battle of Champions.
View More Pics Of Ben White At The 2010 Europa Battle of Champions.

Now Pakulski, who has been training with Charles Glass, has always been known for his legs and he's steadily bringing up his upper body to match them. He didn't place well at last year's New York Pro to many people's surprise. I thought he should have been a few places higher based on his conditioning alone. The judges didn't see it that way and awarded him a meager seventh place.

Ben Pakulski At The 2010 New York Pro Bodybuilding & Bikini Championships. Ben Pakulski At The 2010 New York Pro Bodybuilding & Bikini Championships.
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Ben Pakulski At The 2010 New York Pro Bodybuilding & Bikini Championships.
View More Pics Of Ben Pakulski At The 2010 New York Pro Bodybuilding & Bikini Championships.

To sum these three guys up, I see White in fourth and either Fouad or Pakulski in fifth and sixth. It really could go either way with those two.


Out Of The Mix

Of the other guys competing, I'd have to say Grigori Atoyan has the best chance of sneaking into the top six if one or two guys really mess up their final days of their prep. Atoyan has decent size, but he's never displayed the really crisp conditioning to knock off one the top guys.

Stan Efferding is competing and I'm curious to see what he looks like. I've seen him in photos but I've never actually seen him compete. Everyone knows this guy is stronger than some bulls and can outlift almost anyone and everyone, but we'll see how he fares in this line-up of physique competitors.

Stan Efferding At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions. Stan Efferding At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.
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Stan Efferding At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.
View More Pics Of Stan Efferding At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.

Dan Hill, Wendell Floyd and Robert Belisle will be battling it out to stay out of last place.


Conclusion

Although the Flex show doesn't have as many competitors scheduled like the old Iron Man shows used to have, there are a few extremely talented physiques in this show including a previous Mr.Olympia.

Getting to see Evan Centopani going up against Dennis Wolf for the first time is worth the price admission right there! And then there will be a rematch a couple weeks later in Columbus. I can't wait for both shows! Ladies and gentlemen, the 2011 IFBB Pro season is upon us.

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