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Jay Hits Jackpot in ‘Vegas

So, why did I actually go out on the limb and predict Jay Cutler would be the first man in Mr. Olympia history to regain the Sandow Trophy? Because his back was against the wall: Cutler hadn’t been in great condition in several years and, after being knocked out of the winners circle by Dexter Jackson last season, if the 36-year-old didn’t show up in vastly improved shape with these circumstances, even I would have given up on the man.

But, as you knew after viewing the “Experts” prejudging wrap up video filmed Friday night, it was a different Cutler that stepped on the stage in 2009. Big. Hard. Even had some veins popping out here and there.

And, as you know if you’ve followed my feelings about the latest version of the Olympia, if the Ultimate Beef did finally return to the form of earlier days, that nobody could beat him. Too big. Too wide. Thus, the well deserved moniker.

Did I agree with all the placings (check them out under contest results on the site)? For the most part, yes. Cutler the obvious choice for the crown. One that was worth $200,000 this year, by the way. Branch Warren, in his best shape ever, and coming off a disputed third place finisher at the Arnold, ended up edging Dex by a point for second. And that brought a $100,000 check with it.

Was the Blade off? Nope. Great as always. Terrific symmetry. Incredible condition. How do you really compare a Jackson type body with Warren’s? Or with Jay’s, when you think about it. Apples and oranges. The big, thick as a brick, blue collar iron pumper versus the small waisted, deeply detailed, more aesthetic but smaller man?

As magnificent as the 39-year-old Jackson is, it took a sub par performance by Cutler for Dex to win the title in 08; Jackson told me as last year’s Nationals he didn’t think Jay would ever hit the stage in prime time condition again. He did, and made history in the process. He looked so sublime, I’d have to put him as the favorite already to do it again on 2010.

Back to Dex and Branch. Could have gone either way; both guys are Mr. Olympia quality physiques. Just as fourth and fifth was a coin toss, with Kai Greene getting the nod by a single digit over Heath for fourth. I was told Greene was 20 pounds heavier, and 20% better, than he was in Columbus. I said bunk. You know what I feel about the “weights” most competitors claim. And, Kai said he was 254 in Ohio, which means he was 245—how could be a legit 265 in Las Vegas, and be way better on top of it?

He wasn’t. Still a man beast, waiting for the Olympia feast down the road. In fact, I’d say Greene was lighter than he was at the Arnold, and was not in as good of condition. Heath, as well, was not as good as he was in the 08 Olympia. Now, The Gift might have a legit excuse—I was told he contracted food poisoning Thursday night and was sick as a dog on stage. If so, a legit reason to be off the mark. But, the bottom line is still the bottom line. As with Branch and Dex, Phil and Kai could have gone either way and it would be fair.

Victor Martinez, runner-up to Greene at the Arnold, was, likewise, not any better than he was in Columbus, and sixth place was the right slot for him. Unless you wanted to give it to Ronny Rockel, who looked tremendous. Toney Freeman finished in eighth, EXACTLY where I put him in the contest predictions. I had Melvin Anthony and Silveo Samuel in ninth and 10th in the picks, but those slots were taken by Hidetada Yamagishi and Mo Mousawwi at the end of the night, respectively.

From where I sat, Hidetada and Anthony, Samuel and Gustavo Badell should have fought from the final two top 10 placings, but only Hide was at his best of this group.

Although I was one of those leading the charge that this Olympia would have the most depth in a decade, it didn’t turn out that way. Cutler, Warren, Jackson and Rockel were as good as they ever were; the rest of the field disappointed.

Want proof? Okay. Last year’s fourth place finisher, Dennis Wolf, didn’t even show up for the night show. Not sure if there is a legit reason or not at this point, but he wouldn’t have landed in the top 10 based on the call-outs.

Freeman was in fifth last year and dropped three places; Anthony and Samuel were sixth and seventh, respectively, and moved backwards to 11th and 12th. Now get my drift?

Although I was the Swami with my pick of Cutler, I was the Salami with the selection of David Henry to repeat as the 202 and Under Challenge. Kevin English gets props for winning that one. English looks like he carried 222 pounds, not 202, for sure, but I still would have gone for David, with his superior shape and full muscle bellies. I was right on with my top 5 selections, though, of Ed Correa, Mark Dudgale  and Flex Lewis joining English and Henry, so maybe I was a little haste in giving away that Swami crown. Got it back, Jack.

By the way, a little tidbit for all you trivia buffs; Cutler and Warren battled for the Overall crown at the Teenage Nationals way back in 1993. Branch took that one, though, winning the Light Heavyweight and Overall, and Jay being named as the Heavyweight winner. Nice to see these two great competitors still going pose for pose 16 years later. For a bit more prestige—and money—of course.

‘Nuff for now. Check out the photos and let me know how you think the judges did.



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