by Geoff Roberts
From the outside looking in, the 2016 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic is not exactly the most exciting show of all time. Kai Greene is the overwhelming favorite, with no real competition in this show, and the rest of the field is just a carbon copy of last year, sans the five time champ, Dexter Jackson. From the inside however, the show takes on an entirely different feeling. Kai Greene, while he is obviously the favorite, looked pretty bad at his last showing, and that last showing was well over a year ago. Kai has never taken this much time off from competing in his entire pro career, which makes formulating an accurate prediction of what he will look like extremely difficult. Kai is also over 40 years old without any question, and depending on the source, he may be as old as 42 or 43.
Meanwhile, his biggest threats range from their late twenties to mid thirties. One such character is Cedric McMillan. Seeing Cedric’s name on a competitor list is not usually very exciting, but when Arnold himself decided to mention Cedric’s name specifically after last years show, stating that he was “pissed” Cedric did not win the (his) show, his name instantly becomes interesting. Last but not least on the list of interesting stories is 21 year old Cody Montgomery. Most fans are not predicting much from the shows youngest competitor, but one thing is certain, by the end of the night, Cody will have once again earned a “The youngest bodybuilder to ever…” title, one way or another. For these reasons, in regards to the 2016 Arnold Classic, one should obey the age old advice that warns us not to judge a book by its cover.
Sixth place will be an unlikely battle between Maxx Charles and Cody Montgomery. Despite the fact that 95 out of 100 people will have both of these competitors besting fifth place finisher Branch Warren, Branch is Branch and they love him. This showdown is a case of apples and orange painted cars. Maxx will be 35 pounds heavier than Cody, but only a couple inches taller. Both competitors are better from the waist up than they are in the leg department. Maxx looks as if he is made of concrete from the front, but Cody will best his condition from the rear. While Cody has a far more pleasing physique, it is hard to make a case for him beating an opponent as big as Maxx. People forget that Phil Heath himself only managed to place fifth at his first Arnold Classic, and he had already won two pro shows, including the New York Pro. If I were a betting man, I would have Cody in seventh and Maxx in sixth.
Branch Warren does it again. Finds himself near the top of the second biggest bodybuilding show in the world with the use of graininess, mass, and energy. What I mean by energy is something you have to experience through being at a show Branch is competing in. No matter how much you dislike his physique, it is hard to root against him when you are watching him in person. His body is freaky beyond explanation, and he has so much energy onstage that it becomes contagious. That said, this very well may come down to another placing that many fans and insiders feel that Branch really did not deserve.
This might be the hardest placing to call in the entire show. The only thing I feel confident about is that it will come down to a battle between Justin Compton & Juan Morel. Based on Arnold’s comments after this (his) show last year, Juan would seem like a safer bet. However, based on size, genetics, and progression, you have to go with Compton, who is still being touted as a future Mr. Olympia. Personally, I would have Compton in this spot, losing to Juan, as I think that Juan has a much nicer looking physique, with a tiny waist and no gut whatsoever. However, it will be extremely hard for Juan to overcome the leg discrepancy between him and Justin, as well as all of the pre show hype surrounding last years third place finisher, even if Arnold himself was a bit upset with Compton placing so high last year.
Justin Compton repeats his third place performance, and unfortunately, it becomes clear that Justin Compton is probably not the future Mr. Olympia everyone thought he was. There is no reason to gain over fifteen pounds of muscle a year when you are in your mid twenties and you have the next ten years to grow. Not only is it unnecessary, but Justin might just find out at this show that it is also downright detrimental. I hope that I am wrong, as I was one of the people who was touting him as a future Mr. O, and a beaming light of hope in what has become a fairly boring professional top ten or so. Last year Justin was pretty bad. Yes he was big, but his midsection was so washed out that he literally did not have abs. You should never, under any circumstance, place third at the Arnold Classic with zero abs at all. While he somehow shed some serious water before the Arnold Australia one week later, where he looked great, pictures throughout this year have shown us a Justin Compton that continues to grow. If he had washed out abs and a bloated stomach at X weight last year, it is hard to imagine him looking great at X weight plus ten more pounds this year.
Everyone expects the name Cedric McMillan here, but not so fast. First and foremost, I am not convinced Kai is really doing the show. For that reason, I will say that Cedric is your winner either way, but Compton will place second, Juan third, etc., if said scenario comes to pass. If I need to explain why I question Kai showing up, you must be drunk, or a person who does not follow the sport at all, in which case you would not be reading this, so put down the liquor. If Kai does show up, I do not believe he will win. As stated earlier, Kai is not getting any younger, and he was already showing some signs of age in his physique at the 2014 Olympia, albeit very slight signs, well over a year ago. Not only that, but Kai is famous for pre-contest photos that blow everyone’s mind. Not this time. No photos of Kai at all, really. The only photos we have recently seen are ones of Kai in clothing, and to be honest, he does not look like he would blow anyone’s mind if the clothing was missing.
Cedric McMillan finally realizes his lifelong dream and wins the Arnold Classic. Most people have Cedric placing between second and third at this show, but I beg to differ for one key reason, a reason that most people are simply ignoring. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, the biggest icon in bodybuilding history by leaps and bounds, made specific mention of him believing that Cedric was the rightful winner in 2015. Not only is Arnold the most iconic bodybuilder ever, but the show I am discussing is the Arnold Classic after all, his personal show. What could possibly cause a greater degree of momentum going into a show than the biggest name in the sports history, and the owner of the show, showing obvious disdain with a competitor’s low placing the year before and basically saying this competitor should have won? If I were Cedric, I would be more motivated than ever to come into this show and display the exact physique that Arnold himself has been waiting for.