At the time of this writing, there is still so much to sort out in regard to the 2023 Mr. Olympia contest. Even with just over four months before bodybuilding’s tentpole competition, there is undoubtedly a lot of competitive jostling behind the scenes. For Jay Cutler, four-time Mr. Olympia champion (2006-2007, 2009-2010), the bodybuilding legend likes seeing what some of the fittest people on the planet are brewing.
On June 23, 2023, in one of the latest episodes of his podcast, Cutler broke down where he believes the current Men’s Open division stands before the onset of the 2023 Olympia this early November. To say the least, in a conversation with his manager Matthew M. Daniels, the icon maintained he has his eyes on a few familiar names and didn’t mince words about potential upstarts.
While Cutler didn’t offer specific thoughts on every prime Mr. Olympia competitor — Nick Walker was mentioned in passing but not expanded upon — he did mostly touch every corner of the elite bodybuilders of the Men’s Open class. Here are some of Cutler’s thoughts on what’s sure to be a loaded Mr. Olympia stage in Orlando, FL:
Michal “Križo” Križánek
Cutler was impressed by Michal Križánek’s recent progress but still felt he hadn’t closed the gap enough on the other athletes.
“He [Križánek] was looking so paper thin, especially in the upper body,” Cutler said. “The arms are some of the best in the business, and it’s looked like he made improvements, which, I think he did improve from his prior showings. But I don’t know if he came down in size a little bit to gather the condition. I still feel like he’s still going to have trouble pushing the top spots at the  Olympia.”
Derek Lunsford and Samson Dauda
To some, after his runner-up Mr. Olympia finish in 2022, Derek Lunsford is the next heir-apparent superstar in bodybuilding. Cutler seems to be one of those people. However, after a recent mutual training session, Cutler ensured he talked up 2023 Arnold Classic (AC) winner Samson Dauda as a possible Olympia champion in his own right.
“We just saw Derek [Lunsford] and Samson [Dauda], too,” Cutler said. “They trained together a couple days ago and Derek looks tremendous, which he always has, and Samson looks tremendous, which he has for the past few years. Obviously, he’s the Arnold [Classic] winner. The question is if Derek would’ve done the Arnold [Classic], and we could keep talking about that.”
Hadi Choopan and Brandon Curry
Cutler believes that two established titans, Hadi Choopan and Brandon Curry, have somewhat been overlooked in the popular conversation. That might be a mistake for the defending Olympia champion (Choopan) and the 2019 victor (Curry).
“Contention-wise, Hadi’s [Choopan] been kind of shouting out ‘don’t forget about me,'” Cutler explained. “We’re also forgetting Brandon Curry.”
Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay
After falling short of a “three-peat” in his Olympia title defense, there have been rumblings that Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay could take a break from bodybuilding to recharge. The Egyptian dynamo has quelled these conversations, maintaining that he’s training “angry” for Olympia redemption in the fall. Cutler believes this is the right mentality to have because:
- Elssbiay doesn’t have time to waste as he nears the age of 40 and
- Cutler thinks that Elssbiay, at his best, can still win the Olympia.
“Ramy [Elssbiay] sounds like he’s going to come back and compete, which I’m all for,” Cutler said ” … The point is he [Elssbiay] just needs to regroup and do what he does best and come in the best of his ability. There’s no real timeline on that. He’s 38, he can’t take a few years off. I hear his health is really great. I hear his training is really great. He’s had some atrophy compared to years prior on the arms, triceps, I think he’s admitted to having some downsizing there. But he looked great at the  Arnold [Classic].”
Chinedu Obiekea aka “Andrew Jacked” and Hunter Labrada
Andrew Jacked finished on the podium at the 2023 AC and has already mapped out ambitious summer competitive plans as a way to qualify for the 2023 Olympia. Meanwhile, Hunter Labrada is in hot pursuit of his own Olympia redemption with a streamlined training plan.
Cutler said he liked the duo’s talent but colored his commentary as if he still needed to see more from both athletes.
“I hear great things about Andrew [Jacked], too,” Cutler stated. “The big showdown is going to be Texas [the 2023 Texas Pro]. There’s going to be other guys, too. I know there’s a lot of international shows, but that’s going to be, like, who’s not going to qualify there [in Texas]. Those two guys [Andrew Jacked and Hunter Labrada] need to be in the [Olympia] lineup because they’re people we’re talking about. The question is, can Andrew come and win the  Olympia and shock the world?”
More than most years, the 2023 Mr. Olympia is starting to resemble a relentless gauntlet from which only a true champion of champions will come out victorious. If an icon like Cutler professes so, such a competitive reality feels inevitable.
Featured image: @hadi_choopan on Instagram