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Arnold Classic Preview

Arnold Classic Preview

Another year, another Arnold Classic. The second most prestigious show in bodybuilding returns to the snow of Columbus Ohio (with an expected high of 33F at points in the week, compared to 86F in Phoenix, just a note.) Of the twelve listed competitors, ten have won IFBB professional events, including this one in previous years. The obvious story here is the return of a former champion, Kai Greene, who looks to regain any momentum lost due to events of the last year, but that’s not the only storyline developing in Ohio. As usual, the event should be highly competitive, if not one of the most competitive Arnold Classics yet; with huge implications for many athletes and their ‘stock’ going forward based on the outcome.

Evan Centopani – One of the most consistent professionals, Centopani’s placed four of the last five years in the Top-5, the only exception being in 2013 when he won the Tampa Pro. Some have argued Evan’s lost momentum in recent years. However, he’s managed to time and time again place at one of the most competitive IFBB professional bodybuilding events of the season, a massive feat in itself. Though a win isn’t expected, it’s a very real possibility.

Evan Centopani_Arnold Classic_2015

Maxx Charles – The 2015 Tampa Pro winner is making his Arnold debut. A freak by any means, this will be the densest lineup he’s ever faced. Consequently, as a freak surrounded by fellow freaks, in such a quality lineup of veterans that is unique to the Arnold and Olympia, Maxx may lose his edge, and will have difficulty attaining a Top-5 spot.

Maxx Charles_New York Pro_2015

Justin Compton – Finished 3rd in 2015, behind veterans Dexter Jackson and Branch Warren. Justin will likely break the Top-5 with ease. A win in Ohio is a realistic goal for Compton, but a Top-3 would also be a respectable feat in such a quality contest. While a repeat of 3rd may be disappointing in some ways, as such a young competitor it would still be a positive indication of the direction of his career. With Dexter out and an aging/unpredictable Branch, Compton is arguably a frontrunner for this year’s Arnold, but he faces a sizable hurdle in Kai Greene, to say the least.

Justin Compton_Arnold Classic_2015

Toney Freeman – It’s likely even Toney knows he won’t be taking home the Arnold title in a few weeks. None the less, he will probably make a respectable appearance as usual. The last time Toney placed at the Arnold was in 2013, when he received 3rd. We assume time will finish Toney every passing year, yet he continues to show up and often in the money, but in such a quality show this would be an unlikely feat.

Toney Freeman_Arnold Classic

Kai Greene – The clear frontrunner, but he can be beaten. Kai has the most to lose in Columbus, a unique pressure nobody else does, the type which he’s crumbled under before. Events such as those in Prague, where Kai ‘mysteriously’ fell ill before the finals, and his absence at the 2015 Olympia have led to tremendous added value to this Arnold for him. Nobody can fault him for looking to cash on a relatively easy check, as to compensate for the financial debacles of the past that cost him tens of thousands in potential prize money; but besides money and another Arnold Classic trophy, there’s little benefit for the already two-time champion. Though another Kai win isn’t particularly inspiring, if he’s able to seal the deal in Columbus, Kai will yet again be elevated as a contender at the Olympia, at least in the eyes of the public.

Olympia_Kai Greene

Johnnie O Jackson – A Veteran of the IFBB, who is coming off a win in 2015 at the Texas Pro. JOJ will have a difficult time breaking the Top-5 as he’s in a similar boat to Maxx Charles, in which next to such quality competitors simply being in shape won’t be enough, and any weaknesses will be exposed.

Johnnie O Jackson_arnold classic

Josh Lenartowicz – Shocked the bodybuilding scene in 2015, jumping from 9th place at the Arnold Classic Australia to multiple wins later in the year, taking both the Ferrigno Legacy Pro and San Marino Pro. Those outside of Australia, who hadn’t heard of ‘The King of the Gym,’ certainly did by the end of last year. A Top-5 finish at the US event is a very plausible finish. Another competitor for whom this show holds big implications; Lenartowicz should easily rise to the middle of the pack. However, a Top-5 finish and even winning isn’t outside the realm of possibilities.

Josh Lenartowicz_Arnold Classic

Cedric McMillan – Though he has the potential to win any bodybuilding contest he enters, few have Cedric taking the title in Columbus. Another former New York Pro Champion, a win at this tier of contest would once again elevate Cedric back to the path of consideration as a real threat at the Olympia. An ‘off’ looking Cedric could make the Top-5 and it would shock nobody, however if he’s able to dial it in and win, it would be a surprise, though everyone knows he’s capable.

cedric mcmillan_arnold Classic

Cody Montgomery – Making his IFBB professional debut, Montgomery is metaphorically diving into the depths of the pro ranks. Dangerous as it may seem, the situation is a win/win for the youngest athlete in the lineup. Being so new to the IFBB there are no real expectations besides looking his best, and anyone he beats will be a respectable competitor. Having won every show he’s entered in recent years, if Cody’s able to keep the trend running it’d be remarkable. Unlikely as a win for a rookie at such a competitive show may seem, in Cody’s case it’s a reach, but not impossible; nor would the staff of the Arnold invite him if they didn’t think he’d be competitive as well as represent himself and the competition well. Like many competitors in this year’s event, Cody could just as easily break the Top-5 as he could get dead last, both of which would be respectable in this caliber of a lineup.

Cody Montgomery_Arnold Classic_2016

Juan Morel – The 2015 New York Pro Winner in his first American Arnold, this is the next logical step in his career as his placings continue to improve. A Top-5 is very realistic and would be tremendous for Morel though few have him in serious contention for the title.

Juan Morel_New York Pro

Branch Warren – A two-time champion of this prestigious contest, who came in a very respectable 2nd place in 2015. The wildcard of this event, Branch could just as easily place in the Top-5 as he could fall out of it. If his momentum from his win at the 2015 Atlantic City Pro is any indication, he should yet again be a contender for the title, especially considering the only man who bested him at the event last year, Dexter won’t be competing. Even with Dexter out, Kai will arguably be an even larger feat to conquer in Dexter’s place.

Branch Warren_Olympia

Lukas Wyler – Another rookie IFBB competitor, Wyler automatically qualified by winning the 2015 Arnold Amateur. He too has little to lose with a lot to gain if he manages to beat any of the vets in Columbus. Expectations are low, so the Arnold will provide an excellent opportunity for Wyler to increase his stock in the IFBB, as well as make a name for himself in the states.

Lukas Wyler_Arnold Classic

With the exception of Kai Greene, expectations are relatively low for athletes at this year’s Arnold, though it should be a highly competitive and entertaining event none the less. As little pressure there is, this is a huge opportunity for most anyone on stage, as they could make a statement with their placing, adding positive momentum to their career going forward. It would be foolish not to acknowledge Kai as the obvious frontrunner, nor would anyone be disappointed if he does win, but we’ve seen that Kai too is only human, and this show’s outcome depends entirely on who shows up in Columbus, part of what makes sports so great.


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2016_Arnold Classic_Competitor List

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