Rumble in the Jungle 2009
Ok, so it wasn't exactly a jungle, it was The Los Angeles Convention Centre. And it wasn't exactly a rumble, it was a bodybuilding competition. But you get the point. I was clearly excited for this competition. I mean, it had suspense: Would Mark Dugdale completely revamp his physique yet again this year after several low placings last year? It had intrigue: What would Ahmad Haidar AND Hidetada Yamagishi look like after taking a year off? It had disappointment: Gustavo Badell dropped out at the last minute (probably because he realized he couldn't diet all the way from the Ironman Pro to the Arnold). And it had build-up: Both Silvio Samuel and Moe El Moussawi are known for bringing consistent conditioning. Who would be sharper this time around?
The night show started off with a touching slide show presentation, narrated by Lonnie Teper, that outlined all of the past winners (and included many Top 5 competitors) from the years 1989 to present. This was done to honor the 20th anniversary of John Balik's show. They then brought up Shawn Ray, Flex Wheeler, Chris Cormier, Jay Cutler, Dexter Jackson and Phil Heath, and presented them with 20th anniversary commemorative jackets. It was awe-inspiring to see the top competitors from the last two decades stand on stage together. The faces of bodybuilding past, present and future all gathering together to honor one competition. It really was a touching sight to behold. I suggest you watch the webcast replay if you missed that part.
First Place - Silvio Samuel
As many predicted, including myself, Bob Chick and Dan Solomon, when the dust cleared, El Matador cleared the bull-pen unscathed. Silvio Samuel walked away with the title of Ironman Pro 2009. Conditioning, size, symmetry, proportion, balance, confidence, glutes?there's nothing Silvio DIDN'T bring to the stage Saturday night. He also has some of the fullest muscle bellies out there in the IFBB today. If one had to nitpick, you could say that his calves need work, and that he could have controlled his stomach better between poses. But again, that's just nitpicking. The guy looked excellent. I should also mention that he won the "Fan's Choice" award.
Second Place - Moe El Moussawi
I had a little problem with this decision, because it looked to me like Moe got a little softer from the beginning of the night show until the end. He has a good blend of mass, lines and superb conditioning. This time around though, it wasn't enough of a complete package to boost him to first place. However, I have to give him a little respect. Last year at this time, he was a virtual underdog. He placed a respectable third, finishing behind Heath and Gustavo, but it was impressive for a relative new comer.
Third Place - Ronny Rockel
Probably the most controversial decision of the night. I can't even tell you how many people (including many of your forum member peers) had Rockel in first place after prejudging. Ronny is definitely, in my (and Dexter Jackson's) opinion, one of the most underrated bodybuilders out there now. He had slightly less conditioning than Silvio, but if one compares them head to head on everything else, then I think you could have made a case for Ronny to come in 2nd, or even 1st. If I had to nitpick, Rockel could possibly to bring up his rear double biceps shot.
Fourth Place - Hidetada Yamagishi
Looks like the change in scenery (he now trains at Gold's Venice), change in training partners (he trained with Silvio for part of the year), and change in trainers (he used Charles Glass to prepare him for this competition), really did Hidetada some good. In my opinion, Hide and Ahmad share the award for "Best Side Chest" pose. Full, thick, deep pecs, hanging hamstrings?everything.
Fifth Place - Ahmad Haidar
Like Hide, it looks like the year off worked in Ahmad's favor. He brought up his weaknesses and really emphasized his strengths on stage. He had an abundance of muscle mass, muscle maturity, separation and good (but not great) conditioning. However, all this together just wasn't enough to bump him up from 5th place.