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The Arnold Classic is one of the most prestigious events in bodybuilding. Winning it can catapult a competitor's career. What makes it even more appealing is that traditional favorites may not necessarily win. If the big names are off, then an upset is possible.
Who are the favorites and who could upset the apple cart? Here's a breakdown of each division's contest.
- William Bonac
- Steve Kuclo
- Iain Valliere
Bonac has won two of the last three Arnold Classics, and he will join elite company if he were to win it for a third time. If he looks similar or better this year, then a victory is likely.
Steve Kuclo is among the biggest bodybuilders in the world, and he's expected to be competing at around 285 pounds. Another elite competitor is Iain Valliere, who has won his last two contests, including beating Kuclo at the Texas Pro this year. Even though he competes at a lighter weight, he appears bigger. That contrast could help him.
- Sergio Oliva Jr.
- Roelly Winklaar
- Akim Williams
- Nick Walker
If any of the favorites are off, these men could benefit. Sergio Oliva Jr. brings a lineage with him. The son of Sergio Oliva Sr. was fifth in 2020 and he won the Best Poser award.
Winklaar is on a mission because he lost his last two contests. He placed fifth in the Chicago Pro, and he was runner-up in the Europa Pro in August. He's won the Arnold Australia title in his career, but the U.S. version is what he wants.
Then there's Akim Williams. He won in Puerto Rico earlier this season and was sixth in last year's Mr. Olympia. A bigger and better-conditioned version will put him in the first callout.
The young gun is Nick Walker. Walker won the 2021 New York Pro, and he wants to win the Arnold Classic on his first try. The last guy to do that was Bonac in 2018.
- Justin Rodriguez
Rodriguez won the 2021 Indy Pro and he has great symmetry. If he were to crack the top six here, he will get even more attention at the Olympia two weeks later in Orlando, Florida.
Arnold Classic Physique
- Alex Cambronero
- Terrence Ruffin
- Bryan Jones
Reigning champ Alex Cambronero will be the focus here. However, some of his contenders got better. Terrence Ruffin placed second in the 2020 Classic Physique Olympia, and he beat former champion Breon Ansley at that contest. Another competitor to watch is Bryan Jones, who got fifth at the Olympia. He's a taller competitor which will make him stand out. Cambronero will have to show improvements beyond Ruffin while holding off the challenge of Jones.
- Dani Younan
- Logan Franklin
- Courage Opara
Younan placed sixth at the Olympia and has won a few titles in his career. His posing style and ability to transition seamlessly helps him. Franklin won the New York Pro last year, and has placed as high as fourth in this contest. His proportions and symmetry helped him do well at many contests.
At 5 feet, 7 inches tall, Opara will be one of the shorter competitors in the lineup. His conditioning and confidence have helped him beat bigger competitors before, though. He placed third in this contest two years ago and he can get there again.
- Deontrai Campbell
Campbell is the X-factor. He's won shows such as the Tampa Pro, but he placed tenth at the Olympia last year. With only ten men in this lineup, he can't afford to be off. He must play to his strengths instead of trying to match the other competitors' strong points.
- Elisa Pecini
- Ashley Kaltwasser
- Jennifer Dorie
- Lauralie Chapados
It's a safe bet that the champion this year is in this group. Pecini is the reigning champ and won the 2019 Olympia. She's on a mission for redemption since placing sixth at last year's Olympia. Standing in her way is Kaltwasser, who has 29 victories. Her next win makes her the all-time leading winner in any division. She's won this contest twice, but not since 2015. Ohio is her home state, and nothing would be better for her than to take win number 30 here.
Those two will be facing two Canadian sensations. Dorie was the Olympia runner-up last year and is considered the favorite by some experts to win here. Chapados placed sixth in this contest in 2019, but she has improved since then. These will very likely be the last four standing in the end.
As for contenders or a dark horse, any of the other athletes could crack that top five—it's that competitive of a lineup. That's why this contest is so interesting. It's a matter of who peaks perfectly.
- Missy Truscott
- Whitney Jones
- Oksana Grishina
These athletes were the top three at last year's Olympia and they will likely be the final three standing here. Truscott won both the Arnold and Olympia last year. Her athleticism and powerful physique make her the favorite.
Grishina is a legend and just returned to competition last year. She and Jones have both won this contest multiple times. These three are on their own level, and it's a matter of who can wow the judges the most with their routines.
- Ariel Khadr
- Jaclyn Baker
Khadr has improved every year since her rookie season in 2009. She was the runner-up at this contest last year, and she placed fourth at the Olympia. She'll have to be her best ever if she's to knock off any of the icons ahead of her.
Baker has entered the elite of this division by placing fifth at the 2020 Olympia and fourth in the 2019 contest. She pays attention to every detail, even her transitions in the posing. Her strength will be her back because she has been working to bring it up.
Like the Bikini International, this lineup is stacked, and the other contenders could go in any order. The fans will be in for quite a show.