by Matt Weik
I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited to see 212 bodybuilders in the open class. In fact, I think the 212 bodybuilders that we know about open bodybuilding could actually interfere. How? Have you seen Hadi Choopan and Flex Lewis? Let us discuss why I think so. Maybe i'm crazy
212lb bodybuilders bring it
The 212 division seemed to miss Flex Lewis at the 2019 Olympics in general – just like many of the fans. That said, if he implements his plans for 2020, he and Hadi Choopan could upset some of the top bodybuilders we've seen in the top 5 shows. The 212 bodybuilders are no joke and although they are considered the "smaller class", there is nothing less in them. 212 bodybuilders have some of the craziest characters on stage. I have the feeling that many of them could even move up to the open class and beat many of those who compete outdoors.
But Hadi Choopan is special. Do not you believe me? Hadi Choopan took third place at Mr. Olympia in 2019 and was awarded the The People’s Choice Award. Obviously, the fans love the look he puts on stage, and from what I've seen, he could easily have finished second on the show and even gave Brandon Curry a run for his money. I was amazed that he managed to get to the U.S. and hope to continue to do so in 2020, and we'll see more of him (assuming he doesn't take a year off from it to prepare for the 2020 Olympics only).
Next, let's talk about Flex Lewis. It's hard to say that Flex dominated every time he stepped on a stage. At every 212 Olympics, Flex was expected to be on stage and run away with a nice paycheck. I followed him on his break and Flex looks bigger than ever and has a very productive off-season. The only question that remains unanswered is: "What will Flex look like if he goes on a diet and enters the open class?"
What will 2020 look like?
We start 2020 with many unknowns. With all these unknowns, it opens the door to 212 bodybuilders to take over the properties that once belonged to many of the best open bodybuilders.
Is Phil Heath coming back to start? He hinted at it, but at the same time he teased us in a similar way to Kai Greene when he came back to the Olympics and then said goodbye. If Phil comes back and brings it with me, I don't think anyone will touch him. But if he fails again or retires, 212 bodybuilders like Flex and Hadi can make serious noises.
Next on the list is Mr. Olympia 2018 winner Shawn Rhoden. Rhoden made me scratch my head. There has been some debate over whether he should have beaten Phil in 2018. Then he encountered some legal issues and was told that he could not compete at the 2019 Olympics. He indicated that a few would return to the stage, but that was never resolved. To make matters worse, it appears that Shawn hasn't even paid his IFBB Pro Card fees yet. Let's just take it off the table.
The current Mr. Olympia winner Brandon Curry definitely has a great figure. Can he improve his condition in 2020 to take another Sandow home? I think 212 bodybuilders like Hadi and Flex could come in and push Brandon and even take him out.
Second place in 2019, William Bonac, reminds me very much of Flex and Hadi. They are all small rivals and have similar builds (which is probably why Hadi finished third right behind him). A downside to Bonac is that I don't think he has made any progress with his body over the years. Every time I see him on stage, he looks the same. And while constancy is good, he has to make improvements to win the Olympics.
Then you have people like Dexter Jackson, Big Ramy and Roelly Winklaar. Who knows if Ramy will qualify for the Olympics since he hasn't done it last year? On top of that, Ramy apparently can't get his money's worth, so he can be taken out by some of the 212 bodybuilders on the rise.
Dexter is the timeless wonder and the most enduring bodybuilder in the world. Competitors his age are sitting on their couch and remembering the past and the good old days. Dex is still strong and stands alone as the man with the most victories in sports. However, I believe he is absolutely vulnerable to a lineup with some of the new 212 bodybuilders that are starting.
Lastly Roelly – another competitor you never know what he will bring. Will it be in shape or look like a water buffalo? Who knows? He just reached the top 5 in 2019. Mr. Olympia and Hadi already beat him. I think if Hadi and Flex make it to 2020, Roelly may not even reach the top 5 this year.
What do you think? Can 212 bodybuilders like Hadi Choopan and Flex Lewis come in and cause a stir? Let us know in the comments.