Mr. Olympia 2022 results and headlines

In one of my final articles of Fall 2022, I gave my predictions for the top placers in the Men’s Open division of the 2022 Mr. Olympia contest, the premier contest in all of professional bodybuilding. The show finally took place on December 17-18, so now it’s time to take a look at the headlining results and see just how wrong (or perhaps right) I was.  

Hadi Choopan won his first Olympia title. The first topic of importance is of course the winner of the show. In November I, along with many experts in the field, predicted Mamdouh Elssbiay, AKA Big Ramy, to defend his title and win a third Mr. Olympia. All indications were that his prep had gone according to plan. Every physique update he posted showed great conditioning, while his waist looked to have shrunk, giving Ramy an increasingly aesthetic look. But come show day, the conditioned, tapered Ramy we had seen pre-show was nowhere to be found, leaving him to finish 5th and throwing the door wide open for a new champion.  

Up stepped Iranian bodybuilder Hadi Choopan. His career to date could be summed up in one phrase: always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Since his first Olympia appearance in 2019, Choopan has finished 3rd, 4th, 2nd, and 3rd again. He is known for being extremely consistent, if not overly magnificent. Choopan is always the most conditioned bodybuilder on stage, but lacks the small waist and wide shoulders to stand out based on his structure, and being a shorter guy he also tends to get overlooked from a size standpoint as well. But the stars finally aligned this year, with all of his normal top competitors coming in off.  

Aside from Ramy, last year’s second place finisher Brandon Curry also slipped in placings, dropping to fourth. Curry came in larger than ever, but his conditioning suffered as a result. He also looked very out of balance, with his upper body dwarfing his legs. As a result, he dropped to fourth place.  

Hadi Choopan, meanwhile, brought what was an extraordinary package even by his abnormally high standards. His conditioning was brilliant as always, but on top of that consistency, he also made noticeable improvements to a few key muscle groups. Last year his shoulders were a bit misshapen and disproportionally large in comparison to his arms, but this time around they were smaller and proportional in addition to being perfectly symmetrical. This improvement, in addition to increased mass in his back and quads, ultimately sealed the win.  

Derek Lunsford took 2nd in first ever open Olympia.  Last year’s 212 Olympia champ Derek Lunsford received a special invitation to compete in the open division this year, and boy did he make it count. Many predicted he would finish in the top five thanks to his phenomenal structure, but no one saw his eventual placing coming at all. Lunsford pushed Hadi Choopan further than anyone else, taking second place in his first attempt at the Men’s Open Olympia, and was well worthy of the silver medal. His structure is one of the best in the division; his tiny waist presents a phenomenal V-taper when juxtaposed with his high lateral insertions and massive shoulders. Add to this the fact that he is able to hit a vacuum pose, and he has arguably the best front double biceps pose in the world.  

Derek’s only fault comes with conditioning. However, this is understandable as his focus in jumping from the 212 division, where the weight limit is the titular value of 212 lbs, to Men’s Open, where size is (mostly) the name of the game. Filling out one’s frame takes time, so in order to not get massively outsized, it seems Lunsford went for a slightly less conditioned look in order to maximize fullness. It did the trick, but in order to win the title, he’ll need to come in sharper next year. I can very well see it happening, and I have no doubt that Derek will win the Olympia one day, even if not in 2023.  

Samson Dauda cracked the top 6. One bodybuilder who split opinions before show day was Samson Dauda. A first time Olympian, Dauda had qualified extremely early by winning the 2021 Prague Pro, but had flattered to deceive in his 2022 showings. He first managed an impressive 4th at the Arnold Classic, but then also slipped to 4th at the Boston Pro, which had a far weaker lineup of competitors. Still, when his offseason weight during a bulk was reported at over 330 lbs, while maintaining a slim waist and the aesthetic proportions he is known for, there was significant hype surrounding Samson going into the show. Given his lack of impressive results in the year leading up to the Olympia, I decided to leave him out of my top 10 predictions, but boy did I eat my words on this one.  

Samson ended the Olympia weekend in 6th place, beating out a number of top competitors like Chinedu Andrew Obieka, Hunter Labrada, and William Bonac, who actually won the aforementioned Boston Pro. He was significantly bigger in all areas, but still managed great conditioning and the narrow waist he is famed for.  

There were some complaints about Dauda’s physique, namely a lack of size in his lats and a lack of definition through his midsection. While I think these criticisms are warranted, I also have faith that Samson will be able to make the necessary improvements in the offseason given the massive strides he made this year. He may even be a future Olympia winner.