At this point in time, the Men’s Open division resembles a loaded gauntlet. Usually, a bodybuilding class will feature a champion, in this case, Hadi Choopan, and only another worthy contender or two. According to Jay Cutler, this reality couldn’t be further from the truth for those who currently reside in the Men’s Open.
On Mar. 26. 2023, during a YouTube episode of the Cutler Cast, Cutler discussed the state of the Men’s Open with his talent manager Matthew M. Daniels. The discussion saw the four-time Mr. Olympia (2006-2007, 2009-2010) express that he believes the current cadre of Men’s Open competitors is the best shape it’s been in since the 1990s.
Cutler’s thoughts about the 2020s Men’s Open compared to the 1990s are high praise. Some would find it challenging to see similarities to an era that featured eight-time Mr. Olympia (1998-2005) Ronnie Coleman, six-time Olympia winner (1992-1997) Dorian Yates and four-time Arnold Classic (AC) Champion (1993, 1997, 1998, 2000) Ken “Flex” Wheeler.
Cutler doesn’t have such qualms.
He thinks a group led by defending Olympia champion Hadi Choopan, runner-up Derek Lunsford, third-place finisher Nick Walker, and rising star (2023 Arnold Classic winner) Samson Dauda is bound to have more than a few close battles. Especially at the 2023 Mr. Olympia.
“Hadi [Choopan] is going to be very difficult to beat [at the 2023 Olympia],” Cutler said. “People forget quick, man. You guys got to remember, he’s knocked at that door and he kicked that thing in. Not even, you know, a better overall look, but what he is capable of … I think Derek [Lunsford] is going to be tremendously better and Samson [Dauda] peaked once already this year … it’s tough. And Nick Walker is even more hungry now.”
Choopan, Lunsford, Dauda, and Walker aren’t the only potential top contenders. There’s still former two-time Mr. Olympia Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay to consider, along with 2019 Mr. Olympia and 2022 Arnold Classic winner Brandon Curry. The list of stars capable of winning the sport’s biggest title seemingly never ends.
It’s why Cutler thinks these men are right on par with the time of athletes like Coleman, Yates, and Wheeler.
“We’re falling back into that ’90s era of competitive [bodybuilding],” Cutler said. “We’re still not talking about Hunter Labrada, who I feel could be in the mix … There’s a lot of excluded people that we’re still excited about … We’re excited about an Open class, which I think fell off for a minute because the old guard was going out, and now the new guard has come in and a lot of new guys are solidifying positions now. It’s making it exciting again.”
The margins of victory can be so slim in a sport like bodybuilding. Every competitor in the Men’s Open division certainly understands that fact. Cutler’s analysis of the state of this class might only be the tip of the iceberg for the coming shows it’ll put on.
Featured image: @hadi_choopan on Instagram