With the qualification period for the 2022 Mr. Olympia contest all but wrapped up and less than six weeks left until show day, I think it’s about time I give my predictions for men’s open bodybuilding and whom I see taking home the most elusive crown in bodybuilding this December. The field is absolutely stacked this year, with almost all of the big names qualifying and over 30 total athletes having punched their tickets to the big show. Returning champion Mamdouh Elssbiay, AKA Big Ramy, will face his toughest test yet as he seeks to make his back-to-back titles a three-peat in a little over a month’s time. With that said, here are my predictions for the top ten finishers in the men’s open category at the 2022 Mr. Olympia.
I’m starting out my predictions with Rafael Brandao in 10th position which could be regarded as a rather bold prediction, given that Brandao has been out of the spotlight for some time now. He did win a show to qualify, placing first in the Arnold Classic South America show all the way back in April. However, despite the relative lack of fanfare, I am a massive fan of Brandao’s structure and flow, and I think the judges will be too. He is one of the most aesthetic men’s open professionals around today, which gives him an advantage over guys that choose to just come in big and blocky. Brandao is a great example of what I think a bodybuilder ought to be: he always comes in conditioned, always carries enough muscle to appear large and in charge on stage, and combines these traits with a very aesthetic V-taper and great posing. I think this combination of qualities will be enough for him to crack the top ten in a very stacked lineup.
I’m placing Samson Dauda in ninth position. I would love to be able to predict Dauda higher, but the lineup is just too deep this year for him to make a real splash I think. Dauda won his Olympia qualification with a win at the 2021 Prague Pro around a year ago and has since placed an impressive fourth at the Arnold Classic Ohio. In the offseason since, he has put on significant size, weighing in at over 300lbs for multiple months, while maintaining his rather aesthetic look; like Brandao, he keeps his waist and abs tight despite his large stature. Given that he is a bit taller and heavier than the Brazilian, however, I think he may have enough stage presence to give him the edge into ninth place at the Olympia.
In eighth, I’m placing Chinedu Andrew Obieka. Obieka, better known as Andrew Jacked, took the bodybuilding world by storm after winning his pro card at the Arnold Classic Amateur earlier in 2022. He first appeared as a professional bodybuilder in August, where he swept the competition to beat established top-tier pros like Steve Kuclo and Martin Fitzwater to earn his Olympia qualification. He then followed this win with another at the Arnold Classic UK in October. The craziest part is that in each show, he was not at 100%, as he admitted to having subpar conditioning on both occasions. The fact of the matter was that in both cases, his structure was so far above that of any of his competitors that he still couldn’t be beat. And as someone who thinks conditioning should play a larger role in scoring in bodybuilding shows, I hate to admit it but he was head and shoulders above the competition in both shows. But those were ordinary pro shows, and this is the Olympia. I think that even with a minor improvement, his conditioning will prove too big of a stumbling block for a top five spot, and he’ll settle for eigth.
In seventh, I’m placing Michal Krizo. Just missing out on the top call out, I have Michal Krizo, the Slovenian sensation himself. I’ll keep this one short: despite the size and shape he brings, Krizo doesn’t impress me or anyone else with a voice in the bodybuilding community right now. I wrote last week about how he reportedly arrived late to the Prague Pro, couldn’t control his gut, looked washed out and flat, and sweated so much his tan ran. Even with the minor improvements a bodybuilder can make in six weeks, Krizo won’t be ready for this show, and so will slump to a spot outside the top six in his first Olympia.
I am predicting Labrada to fall a few places from his fourth-place finish last year into sixth. This is nothing of his own fault; Labrada has made improvements from last year, let’s be clear. He has in fact added mass, especially in his back which was agreed upon by many to be his weakest point. The simple fact of the matter is, his structure and mass in combination are just not enough to keep up with the best of the best. Nick Walker is a freak of nature; Hadi Choopan is a ball of muscle who comes in at less than 2% bodyfat; Big Ramy is simply MASSIVE. Labrada will essentially be the best of the rest in sixth.
In fifth, I’m predicting Willam Bonac. Back to his best in recent shows, like his 2022 Boston Pro win, William “The Conqueror” Bonac will be back among the top five at this year’s Olympia. He may not be the most aesthetic guy, but he has made some massive improvements. Bonac has fixed his gynecomastia issue (Google that if you’re feeling brave), has been consistently conditioned, and is back to coming into shows fuller than anyone else on stage. Despite the gyno issue, he is widely recognized to be the rightful winner of the 2022 Arnold Classic Ohio as well, which is no mean feat given that it is the second most prestigious title in bodybuilding. He gives up size to some guys I have above him, and conditioning to others, but he is clearly among the elite of the elite, and will be on show day too.
He still won’t crack the top three, but Nick Walker is very well deserving of an improvement on his fifth place placing from last year by taking fourth. He is an absolute sack of muscle, and always comes in cut to the bone with his midsection in check. He loses some ground to more aesthetic guys in poses like the front lat spread on account of how blocky he is, but that shouldn’t stop him from beating out most mass monsters like Bonac, Krizo and Dauda. He is also one of the kings of constant improvement, and has made a habit of looking better in each show than in the previous one. I think he does that again and makes the top four at the Olympia.
In a repeat of his placing last year, I think Hadi Choopan takes third, but falls short of the title once again. His calling card is his conditioning, which makes sense for a former 212 bodybuilder. In that division, conditioning is what separates the top dogs from those below them, since size is limited by the weight cap. But when that limit doesn’t exist, smaller guys like Choopan can still fall behind some of the mass monsters because they simply look outsized on stage. That has always been the critical point in Choopan’s physique, and I believe this year will be more of the same. Look for him to come in as the most conditioned guy in the lineup, but still not quite get close to the title.
Again, I see Curry retaining his second place placing this year without sliding up or down in the pecking order. Brandon is the king of the aesthetic mass monsters; he always comes in massive with super full muscle bellies, but also maintains a tight waist and nice flow to his physique. He, like Walker, also seems to improve in each show, incrementally taking steps forward. In a weaker generation of talent, perhaps he would have many more titles than the one Olympia he won back in 2019. But he seems to always be second best in the big show these days, and that won’t change this year.
I predict Big Ramy takes first. This man is the sole reason Brandon Curry does not have 3-4 Olympia titles. Having finally figured out how to get his conditioning right back in 2020, he has won the last two Mr. Olympias, and looks poised to make that a three-peat. Some of the physique updates Ramy has posted in recent weeks are jaw-dropping. He looks to be improved even on his performances over the last two years with show day-level conditioning at six weeks out, a smaller waist than he’s ever had, and has also somehow maintained his crazy proportions in the quads, arms, and chest. Put simply, Ramy looks to be built like a comic book villain, and I’m super excited to see what he brings on show day.