Will the Priest be serving Mass at the IRON MAN Pro on February 18, held once again at the lavish Pasadena Civic Auditorium? Or will he be relegated to altar boy status once more?
2006 Iron Man Pro Preview!
Lee Priest: Through With Runner-Up Finishes!
Lee Priest, the owner of the best all-around arm development in the history of the game, is also the owner of a record he holds with great disdain: four runner-up finishes at the IM Pro, the last two coming in '04 and '05 to Dexter Jackson and Gustavo Badell.
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Lee & Gustavo @ The 2005 Ironman.
With the last two champs sitting this one out to concentrate on the Arnold Classic two weeks hence, the 5'4 1/2", 200-pounder from Austin, Texas (by way of Australia, natch) enters the 17th version of the premier Southern California bodybuilding event as the favorite.
He might have been at his all-time best last season with a disputed fourth place finish at the Arnold, and in besting Chris Cormier at the Australian Pro a week after Cormier edged Jackson at the San Francisco Pro. I mean, the guy actually showed up with shredded glutes, which I admittedly thought was as likely as Angelina Jolie marrying Billy Bob Thornton. See, lightening does strike twice!
Three weeks out Priest was 204 pounds and looked to be right on time with his contest prep. If he shows up the way he looked at his latter two events in '05 (he passed on the 'Olympia) he will be very hard to beat.
Troymendous: Troy Alves Is Ready To Rumble.
But, contests are not won on paper. Just ask Troy Alves, who says this one belongs to him after a very controversial third place landing last year behind Badell and Priest.
Yes, a lot of folks had Troymendous, not Badell, winning last year's show and Troy, who had to sit out the 'Olympia due to injuries, is brimming with confidence as he prepares to tackle Priest and the rest of the gang this year. Judging by pictures of the new age Frank Zane a month out, Alves will be ready to rumble.
Ahmad Haidar: Best Abs.
I assume Ahmad Haidar will be, too. I mean, when has this cat not shown up in great shape? If Priest wins the title of Best Arms, Haidar takes Best Abs. And, the rest of him ain't too shabby, either. Haidar has been fourth in two previous IRON MAN's, and has to be considered a title contender this year.
if you find my car keys imbedded in his serratus,
please return them ASAP."
But That's Not All Folks:
Don't think, however, this is a three-man show. Mohammad Mustafa, David Henry, Mark Dugdale and Kris Dim don't, for sure. Mustafa has freaky muscle here, there and everywhere, and the 265-pounder is coming off a solid 10th place finish at last year's Olympia. Priest wins Arms, Haidar wins Abs-and Mustafa would have to be in the running for Best Wheels.
Henry, Mr. Mass with Class Part 11 (with respect to Lee Labrada, of course), is no longer just a name in the line-up. People have been noticing the vastly improved look of this 5'5", 190-pounder lately, and David landed center stage at the Mr. O last October after winning the Wildcard Challenge Round.
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David Henry @ The 2005 Wildcard Showdown.
Henry and Dugdale finished seventh and eighth, respectively, at last year's IM, and not too many people in the house felt those slots were high enough. Dugdale was making his pro debut and showed up in tremendous condition; true, he's not the biggest guy in the field at 5'6" and 210 pounds, but he's one of the best. And, he can match wheels with anyone on stage.
Dim is coming into the show a pissed off dude; after a great rookie year in 2004, the lights were dimmed for Kris at last year's Olympia, where he didn't make the top 15 and, thus, not allowed to do his posing routine at the finals. He says this one's about redemption, to prove the judges didn't give him a fair look last year and wants to make sure it doesn't happen in Pasadena.
A Pro Debut: Eryk Bui.
Speaking of Dim, Eryk (Chop) Bui will be making his pro debut and not only wants to show he belongs on a pro stage, but that he, not Dim, is the best Asian bodybuilder in the world. Of course, Hidetada Yamagishi of Japan thinks he should own that title, so this will be another interesting sidelight to the contest.
Bui hasn't competed since he destroyed the Middleweight class at the 2004 Nationals; Henry won that class two years earlier and it took him two years on the pro ranks to get noticed. The 35-year-old Bui says he'll get noticed in a hurry with his 5'5", 190-pound package.
"Henry's a good bodybuilder, no mistake about that," says Chop. "But, I bring a different physique to the stage; David has great lines, I have more muscle. I can guarantee you this - I'll be in great condition at the contest."
Derik Farnsworth: A Brand New Dynamo.
Like Dim, Derik Farnsworth is another guy who has been focusing all of the past year on making amends the next time he hits the stage. Farnsworth is only 5'2" and weighs about 165 pounds, but had a brilliant NPC career, winning his class at the Team Universe three times, and taking the Lightweight division at the 2002 Nationals.
Derek's pro debut, however, was less than exhilarating. He didn't make the top 15 at the IRON MAN last year, and didn't deserve to. Yes, that's how far off he was, and he knows it.
Farnsworth is a real dynamo on stage, and can match legs with Dugdale and Mohammad; he says there will be a brand new version of DF in Pasadena this year. Judging by photos taken three weeks from the contest, I believe it.
For the third straight year I will be hosting a press conference/weigh-in the day before the contest. It'll take place at 4 p.m. in the Expo Hall. Last year Alves went after Badell in a pose down after Gustavo peeled off the shirt to give the fans a preview of what was to come. Later, Melvin Anthony and Franklin Roberson "danced down" on stage to the delight of the folks in the seats.
NPC Figure Competition
As usual, an NPC Figure competition will be held in conjunction with the men's contest and a lot is on the line for the ladies.
First of all is a photo shoot with IRON MAN'S celebrated photographer, Michael Neveux. Then, there is the history of the show: in each of the three years since the Figure competition was added to the event, the winners (Hannah Park, Abby Duncan and Alexis Ellis) have all turned pro the same year. In looking at the line-up in the latest version of the women's side of things, I predict it will be four for four.
|Watch Alexis Ellis On The Fit Show.
Kim Oddo, Laurie Vanniman & Alexis Ellis.
Women's Training With Kim Oddo, Alexis Ellis.
Training W/ Jerome Fergusson, Alexis Ellis.
Training with IFBB Pro Rusty Jeffers, Alexis Ellis.
Jim Manion, NPC President and IFBB Vice-President, will be honored with the Perry and Mabel Rader "Lifetime Achievement Award," and Bob Gardner is being cited with the "Art Zeller Award For Artistic Achievement."
Pre-judging is set for 10 am on Saturday, with the finals getting underway at 7 pm.
2006 IFBB Ironman Pro Competition Info.
Ironman Pro Bodybuilding Show To Be Webcast Live At Bodybuilding.com.