Arnold Classic Prediction: Branch Warren, Dexter Jackson, Evan Centopani

Arnold Classic Prediction: Branch Warren, Dexter Jackson, Evan Centopani
by Joe Pietaro

The staff here at MuscleSport Mag has done quite well in predicting the winners and placings in both the Arnold Classic and Mr./Ms. Olympia the past few years, so we feel confident in giving it another shot. With the Arnold Classic nearly upon us, this figures to be a close battle for both bodybuilding titles.

For the men, we will have a new champion with two-time winner Kai Greene choosing to sit this one out. Will someone such as Victor Martinez or Dexter Jackson reclaim the title? Or will Branch Warren transcend his Most Muscular Awards into first place?

Evan Centopani will definitely receive more than a few looks with his recent FLEX Pro Championship win. This will be only his third pro show, with success following Centopani in both previous contests. Dennis Wolf has been on point in his last two shows and Ronny Rockel’s improvements are unquestionable. Roelly Winklaar was an unknown at this time last year before finishing seventh at the Arnold in his maiden professional outing. By winning the 2010 New York Pro, he has made himself someone to be highly considered in every show he competes in.

Here is how we see it turning out:

1 – Branch Warren
2 – Dexter Jackson
3 – Evan Centopani
4 – Dennis Wolf
5 – Ronny Rockel
6 – Fouad Abiad
7 – Roelly Winklaar
8 – Victor Martinez
9 – Toney Freeman
10 – Sergey Shelestov

Warren has been so close at the two major shows and seems to be well-liked by the judges in Ohio. With Greene and Phil Heath dropping out, the Texas native should be able to hold off what is still a fairly deep line-up. Jackson looked good in finishing second at the FLEX and should squeak by Centopani this time. The judges panel may lean towards the veteran here.

Wolf has made a successful comeback with a good showing at the ’09 Olympia and again at the FLEX, so we like him to make the top six in Columbus. The diminutive Rockel sometimes gets overlooked, but gets another feather in his cap here. Abiad took third at the FLEX and made some big gains to get there. He is our surprise name in the top six.

Winklaar had a banner rookie campaign and can definitely duplicate that. Should he do better than the same place as last year? Depending on a few things, he can certainly bump himself up a spot or two. Winklaar hasn’t competed since September and someone as inexperienced as him may need a year or two to figure out the timing of everything in the pro circuit.

‘The Dominican Dominator’ has not done that much of late and we expect Martinez’s descent to continue this weekend. He doesn’t seem to have the same intensity as he once did but with so much pure talent and ability, Martinez may surprise us and we would be only too happy to eat our words. The sport is more interesting with a top conditioned Martinez on the stage.

A rough offseason could effect the X-Man in a detrimental way. Freeman’s trouble’s in Europe – although not totally his fault – may have set his schedule back. Plus he also tested positive for marijuana and that cannot bode well for someone training for an upcoming contest. (I don’t care how many months out that incident was; smoking weed and bodybuilding should not ever be mixed.)

Shelestov and Jackson are always looking good and either should be able to sneak into the top 10. We like Shelestov to be the one.