The biggest event of the year for the Bodybuilding community is here. The 2022 Olympia will be taking place December 15-18, 2022. It is now back in Las Vegas, NV, but at a new venue, the Zappos Theater within Planet Hollywood. Not only are we going to see the biggest names hitting the stage, but also some new blood. The question is, will the big names stay on top of the rankings or will some of that new blood cause some waves?
Here’s a breakdown for each men’s division:
This year's open division has a lot of participants. The biggest thing to look forward to with this division is all the new blood including Derek Lunsford (Won 212 last year but got special invite to open this year), Andrew Jacked, Michal “Krizo” Krizanek, and Samson Dauda. While I don’t believe these guys will win it this year, they definitely could shake up the competition, but let’s get down to the favorite and top contenders.
Favorite: Mamdouh Elssbiay (Big Ramy)
Mamdouh Elssbiay aka Big Ramy is now going for his 3rd Mr.Olympia in a row and I’ll be honest, his signature size is still there which seems to be what the judges are looking for. Of course, he will need to come in conditioned well to really show off that size, but I don’t see anyone taking him down this year and many others agree.
Curry won the 2022 Arnold, but that wasn’t without some criticism of his conditioning. If he can have that dialed in, he certainly could compete for that top spot with Big Ramy. There’s a reason he has been runner-up for two consecutive years, but maybe this is the year he can reclaim the title.
Choopan has the conditioning down, but it’s the size he has been missing when comparing him to Ramy and Curry. Now, he has been working with Hany Rambod for several weeks now, so we will see if that has helped.
Bonac has won the Arnold twice and been a runner-up at Olympia, so he definitely knows what he needs to do to be a contender. At this year’s Arnold, some said he should have won because his conditioning was better than Curry, but he has some areas he needs to work on. If he has developed those weaknesses, he could be up there.
Walker will definitely be one to watch. After he won last year's Arnold and took 5th in his Olympia debut, he took this full year to prepare for Olympia. He definitely has the size and having reunited with his coach, Matt Jansen, he certainly is feeling pretty confident.
Classic Physique Olympia
Let’s just be honest about this division. While the Men’s Open may be the main event, the Classic Physique division is starting to become more and more popular. I believe this division will eventually take over as the most popular, but time will tell.
Favorite: Chris Bumstead
Are we really surprised? Bumstead has won the last 3 Olympias and looks to be in peak condition yet again. It would really take Bumstead to be completely off his game to lose this. I will say this though, I don’t know how many more he has left in him. The guy has so much going for him with his own supplement and apparel companies on top of getting engaged. Unpopular opinion probably, but I think he hangs it up either after this one or next year at most.
Ansley has always been up there towards the top since 2020 in this division. Before Chris Bumstead, Ansley had won Olympia twice. Also, he announced this is the last year he will compete in Classic Physique before jumping up to the 212 division, so he will be motivated to go out on top. He needs to be at his absolute best to dethrone Bumstead.
Ruffin has been on Bumstead’s heels the last couple years. He also won the Arnold this year and arguably pretty easily. With his top notch symmetry and posing, he could definitely be a threat, but even a 2nd place finish would be impressive. Probably not in his mind though.
Kalecinski won the Tampa Pro in 2021, took 3rd at the Arnold this year, and 4th in Olympia last year. Here’s the thing about him though, he is young at just 24 years old. While I don’t think he will dethrone Bumstead this year, he will be on top of this division for years to come. The real question is will he be bigger and leaner to get into the top 3 this year? His time will definitely come for that 1st place spot as long as he stays healthy.
With the reigning champ (Derek Lunsford) competing in the Open Division, the 212 Division is wide open for a new champ. The question is who?
Favorite: Shaun Clarida
Clarida just recently announced he would compete in the 212 division instead of the Open Division, and I think that was a smart choice if he wants to win. Having won it in 2020, he has a chance to make history by being the first bodybuilder in this division to regain the title after losing it. Based on images swirling around on social media, he definitely has the right package to win.
The interesting thing about Frias is the fact that he hasn’t announced if he is competing in the open or 212 division yet. Still.. However, in the last 3 competitions where he competed in the 212 division, he took 1st twice and 4th in last year’s Olympia. He definitely has the size and definition to be towards the top if he decides to compete in the 212.
While Elgargni may be getting up there in age, he is still one of the guys to stay on top of the 212. Having won Olympia in 2019, he definitely knows what it takes to win. The question is, will that age end up playing a factor and limiting him?
Men’s Physique Olympia
While the Men’s Physique Division doesn’t get the love like the above mentioned divisions, it is still a fun one to watch and has 50+ qualified to participate at Olympia. I will say it is a bummer Sadik Hadzovic backed out as I was looking forward to his return, but nonetheless, here are my picks for this division.
Favorite: Brandon Hendrickson
Hendrickson has won this title 3 times now and 2 consecutively. The guy has been dialed in and looks to be on the same path, so he will be hard to beat.
While I have Hendrickson as a favorite to win, Banks was definitely considered as well. He took 2nd behind Hendrickson his rookie year at Olympia last year and then won his Arnold debut this year. Banks shoulder to waist ratio is top notch and this could be very close.
I feel like Montenegro has made some good strides throughout the last couple of years and has respectfully taken 3rd at last year’s Olympia and this year’s Arnold. While I don’t think he will beat Hendrickson or Banks, he will still be at the top.
This is personally one of my favorite divisions. Not to take away from the other competitors in the other divisions at all, but the determination these guys show with their training and dedication is second to none. This division has been dominated by one man for years, but has that come to an end?
Favorite: Gabriele Andriulli
This is Andriulli’s year and he will dethrone the 4 time Olympia champ this year I believe. While he has taken 2nd in the last two Olympias he competed in only behind Harold Kelley, he finally dethroned Kelley in the Arnold this year. I think he will do the same at Olympia.
Kelley is a 4-time Olympia champion and 5-time Arnold winner. However, like I mentioned above, he was dethroned at the Arnold this year. Will he be able to overcome that loss and win his 5th Olympia in a row? We will see.
Khadraoui is another competitor that has been alongside Andriulli and Kelley for years. He actually took 2nd at the 202 Olympia behind Kelley although Andriulli didn’t compete that year. In order for him to even have a chance, he will need to bring his “A” game in order to surpass both of them for that top spot.