2008 Mr. Olympia Preview - The Wolf, The Gift And The Blade Battle For Supremacy!

Come September 25, the Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas will once again host the most impressive array of pro bodybuilding superstars, at the 2008 Mr. Olympia. Here are my top 15 picks for the biggest show in the world!

Come September 25, the Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas will once again host the most impressive array of pro bodybuilding superstars currently walking the earth, at the 2008 Mr. Olympia.

While top contenders Victor Martinez — out due to leg surgery — and Branch Warren — sidelined by a triceps injury — will not be competing for the top placements, a great deal of pressure will still be heaped on current champion Jay Cutler as he faces a strong field, including several men who will make life difficult should they come in at their very best.

Dexter Jackson is one such man for whom conditioning is never a problem and for which size and shape are in near-perfect synchronization. Dennis Wolf, while at this point probably lacking the refinement and detail Dexter has spent many years perfecting, is also, with his massive overall size and balanced muscle mass, high on the list of competitors likely to push the champ all the way.

And of course there is Phil Heath, a newcomer to the Olympia stage who is expected by many to land in the top five, if not fight for the number one spot, along with Gustavo Badell, Melvin Anthony, Toney Freeman and Dennis James, all certainly worthy of top placements should they bring their respective A-Games.

With all the hype surrounding Jay Cutler's less than auspicious win in 2007, his 2008 Mr. Olympia showing, as the defending champion with much to prove to his detractors and everything to lose should he come in below par, will probably be his most important yet.


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2008 Olympia Predictions!
Two big questions are being asked about the 2008 Mr. Olympia. Can Jay win his third Mr. Olympia title by defeating Dexter Jackson?
Myron Mielke

Should he come in at less than 100 percent, which he certainly did in 2007, the judges may feel obliged to present the Sandow to an equally balanced, yet harder and more detailed competitor.

And with both Dexter Jackson and Dennis Wolf positioned in the minds of many as future champions, they will not be taking any backward steps in trying to overthrow the current Mr. O.

But as we have come to expect at Mr. Olympia level, with its vast field of top tier competitors all determined to bring their best, a thin layer of water and a mistiming of ones peak can result in lesser competitors scoring higher on the judges cards, thus potentially resulting in several upsets in the final standings.

So while it is fine to predict, and in some instances predictions can be justified based on past results and consistency of individual performances, there is always some kind of surprise waiting the fans come Olympia day. On that note, here are my top 15 predictions.

dot 15th Place: Fouad Abiad dot

    A Canadian competitor with an impressive degree of muscle, but lacking the shape and structure to do any real damage at the Olympia level, Fouad, who debuted as a pro at the 2007 Montreal Pro, presented his career best shape to take third at this year's Europa Pro, to qualify himself for the Olympia.

    If Fouad can bring his hallmark striated-glutes, wide shoulders and good conditioning he will do himself proud in his Olympia debut, but is likely to land well out of the top ten.

Fouad Abiad Fouad Abiad
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Fouad Abiad At The 2008 Europa.
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dot 14th Place: Johnnie Jackson dot

    While Johnnie Jackson has the kind of rugged, compact physique that impresses the fans and looks great in photo shoots, standing alongside men with better proportions and who are more complete tends to diminish some of this impact.

    His full chest and back development along with — pound-for-pound — the biggest traps in pro bodybuilding are not enough to make the Olympia top ten with the new breed of more-complete bodybuilder entering the game — at least in my view anyway.

Johnny Jackson Johnny Jackson
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Johnnie Jackson At The 2008 Europa.
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    Add to this the fact that Jackson's physique can be unpredictable in terms of conditioning and he is unlikely to do any real damage at this year's Olympia.

dot 13th Place: Leo Ingram dot

    Also making his Olympia debut, having qualified with a third placement at the 2008 Houston Pro, is Leo Ingram, a competitor who, as was proven in his last three contests, brings a harder, fuller package with each outing.

    At the 2008 New York Pro, Leo was cut to ribbons but seemed to lack the fullness his massive physique appeared capable of displaying. Two months later — at the Houston Pro — he displayed such fullness to suitably impress the judges and qualify for his first Olympia. With his great size and conditioning alone, Ingram should land in 13th.

Leo Ingram Leo Ingram
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Leo Ingram At The 2008 New York Pro.
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dot 12th Place: Craig Richardson dot

    Another who appears to have improved from contest to contest is Craig Richardson, a competitor who really lacks nothing and, when he does bring his best conditioning, is hard to fault.

    In saying this, since he does not display the freaky size of many of his fellow-Olympians, Richardson's physique does not have the kind of impact that is rewarded at bodybuilding's biggest show. However, if he can develop a little more evening distributed size, while maintaining his great conditioning and shape, I predict he will break the Olympia top ten very soon.

Craig Richardson Craig Richardson
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Craig Richardson At The 2008 New York Pro.
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dot 11th Place: Ronny Rockel dot

    And speaking of physiques that are hard to fault, Ronnie Rockel has one that is up there with the most complete in each contest he enters. Though one of the shorter competitors, Rockel does not display the blocky waistline and narrow shoulder structure such a build often possesses.

    If he can bring to the 2008 Olympia his best ever conditioning, along with an improvement in presentation skills, he is likely to achieve 11th, or better.

Ronny Rockel Ronny Rockel
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Ronny Rockel At The 2008 New York Pro.
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dot 10th Place: David Henry dot

    When David Henry takes the stage it is hard to believe that he competes at under-202 pounds, such is the illusion of massive size that is created by the dense, striated muscles that cover every inch of his body.

    Another shorter competitor, Henry more than compensates for this with his symmetrical, proportionate physique complete with some of the thickest back and arm development in the pro division.

David Henry David Henry
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David Henry At The 2008 New York Pro.
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    His posing and overall stage presence is also superb as has been his conditioning in recent contests. It seems a lighter bodyweight is best for Henry and if he can pull all of his positive attributes into the correct alignment he should have no problem taking at least 10th come September 27.

dot 9th Place: Silvio Samuel dot

    Not a lot, in my view, separates Silvio Samuel from David Henry as far as size and shape are concerned so it should be close between these two as far as rounding out the top ten goes.

    However, Samuel does have a slight edge in shoulder and thigh thickness providing the additional mass that tends to be rewarded these days. And like Henry, Samuel is one guy that brings incredible conditioning and can legitimately stand toe to toe with the larger competitors. 'Full and cut to shreds muscle' is one term that definitely characterizes the Silvio Samuel physique.

Silvio Samuel Silvio Samuel
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Silvio Samuel At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
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dot 8th Place: Dennis James dot

    Dropping a little in the size department has not hampered Dennis James' ability to thwart the competition as was ably demonstrated by his recent second place finishes at the 2008 Tampa Bay and Europa Pro shows. This reduction in size also presented a smaller waistline and greater detail, most noticeably in his quads and hamstrings.

    Always a contender for the Olympia top ten, James, should he time his peak well, will at least make 8th in this year's stacked line-up.

Dennis James Dennis James
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Dennis James At The 2008 Europa.
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dot 7th Place: Toney Freeman dot

    The X-Man, Toney Freeman, is one of those bodybuilders that must bring his A-Game to stand a good chance of placing high, and that is exactly what he did with his recent wins at the 2008 Tampa Bay and Europa Pro shows.

    Since he is one of the tallest pros on the circuit today, and does not tend to have the round, full muscles shown on some of the shorter competitors, along with their more compact, proportionate structure, to make the biggest impact he must compete ultra-ripped.

Toney Freeman Toney Freeman
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Toney Freeman At The 2008 New Zealand Pro.
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    And since he hasn't risen to the challenge at the highest level yet, and given he has already peaked twice this year, combined with his history of miscalculating his conditioning, 7th Place is the likely outcome. If he does manage to peak again, though, he could find himself in the top four.

dot 6th Place: Gustavo Badell dot

    Gustavo Badell has shown that he can be a threat at the highest level, landing at number three in two consecutive Mr. Olympia's, and time and again bringing a complete physique stacked with muscle.

    In recent years, however, conditioning has been his downfall, but despite coming below his best, he has still been able to make a resounding impact with one of the largest most complete physiques onstage today. With Badell it is all a question of conditioning, and if he can nail it his chances of making the top six at this year's Olympia are very good.

Gustavo Badell Gustavo Badell
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Gustavo Badell At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
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dot 5th Place: Melvin Anthony dot

    In breaking the top six at the last two Olympia's, the posing machine with some of the most proportionate muscle development around has proven he can turn it on where it counts.

    With a disappointing eighth at this year's Arnold Classic an off-peak Melvin made the necessary adjustments in conditioning to land second in both the Australian and New Zealand Pro shows.

Melvin Anthony Melvin Anthony
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Melvin Anthony At The 2008 New Zealand Pro.
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    His graceful physique and posing talent along with further improvements in conditioning should secure Melvin a top six placement at the Olympia, 2008.

dot 4th Place: Phil Heath dot

    One of the most anticipated comparisons, other than the obvious Jay Cutler/Dennis Wolf showdown, will be Phil Heath against both Wolf and Cutler, two men he has yet to face onstage at the highest level.

    A training partner and friend to Cutler, Heath will be placing all cordiality aside as he seeks to topple the champ. However he must first go through Wolf and Jackson, the latter of which defeated him at the Arnold Classic earlier this year.

Phil Heath Phil Heath
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Phil Heath At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
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    Heath, as has been said ad nauseam, has all of the tools to be one of the very best for a long time; his biggest attribute possibly being his age — 29.

    With a solid structure, displaying good size and great proportion and symmetry, Heath, when he peaks well, is almost unbeatable. Based on his excellent showings so far this year — a win at the Iron Man Pro and second place at the Arnold Classic — he will be within the top four. Should Wolf appear slightly off he may take as high as third.

dot 3rd Place: Dennis Wolf dot

    Edging Phil Heath out on size and overall physical impact will be Dennis Wolf, a competitor with enough mass to possibly defeat even the current champ.

    In 2007 Wolf came from nowhere to shock the Olympia audience with his epic proportions and crisp conditioning — his most muscular pose brought the house down. Amazingly he didn't receive a single comparison with Jay Cutler, who himself did not present the same kind of impact physique-wise Wolf did.

Dennis Wolf Dennis Wolf
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Dennis Wolf At The 2007 Olympia.
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    Ironically though, rather than distancing Cutler from Wolf and solidifying the formers victory, this lack of comparison attracted even more speculation as to whether Wolf could have beaten the champ.

    And with a year having passed, most of the hype and pre-Olympia anticipation and speculation surrounds Wolf's impending comparison to Cutler. And this alone, notwithstanding Wolf's magnificent physique, has generated a great deal of publicity for the German giant and a collective mindset among the fans that Dennis may just pull off the victory. This is one battle all will be watching for.

dot 2nd Place: Dexter Jackson dot

    One man the Wolf will be stalking in his quest to unseat Cutler is Dexter Jackson, who based on his consistently rock hard, dry conditioning, full and round muscle bellies and near-perfect shape, is likely to be the man Jay must beat to secure his third Sandow.

    After seeing Jackson compete year after year it is not hard to discount his physique as not having the kind of impact a breakthrough athlete like Wolf or Heath has shown in recent years.

Dexter Jackson Dexter Jackson
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Dexter Jackson At The 2008 New Zealand Pro.
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    So long as he continues to bring the shape and conditioning he is renowned for, the judges will continue having a hard time relegating him out of the top three. Such is the definitiveness to which he has secured his high positioning among bodybuilding's elite that it looks that that is where he will stay until he decides it is time to quit.

    However, not content to be second best, Dexter will be looking to buck the trend and position himself, a sub-230 pound competitor, as Mr. Olympia. And if Cutler comes in a fraction less than his very best, he is likely to do just that.

dot 1st Place: Jay Cutler dot

    To use an old boxing clich?, it is said that you must knock the champion out to win the title, as was demonstrated in 2007 when an all-time-best Victor Martinez could not defeat Jay Cutler at arguably his worst.

    With both competitors presenting well-balanced physiques, but with overall shape going Victor's way, mass going Jay's, it all, in the eyes of many, came down to conditioning, of which Martinez clearly had the edge. He lost in one of bodybuilding's more controversial decisions ever. Since then a degree of vulnerability has been associated with name Jay Cutler.

Jay Cutler Jay Cutler
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Jay Cutler At The 2007 Olympia.
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    However, Cutler is a man who has shown time and again that he has the heart of a lion and an unparalleled will to win, not to mention one of the largest, most muscular physiques on the planet.

    Placing second to Ronnie Coleman four times consecutively before defeating him at his own game — namely in mass and hardness — has proven that Cutler, when he rises to the occasion, is capable of doing the impossible and persisting until he triumphs.

    If he holds true to these qualities, he should maintain his grasp on the Olympia title for another year, and prove once and for all that he is the true champion.