Bodybuilding’s Greatest “What Ifs” – Part 2


by Geoff Roberts

Two more modern bodybuilding what ifs are, what if Victor Martinez never sustained his devastating leg injury in 2008, and what if Kai Greene had chosen to do the Arnold Classic every year since he won in it 2009. In 2007, Victor Martinez, in regards to the bodybuilding world, was the center of attention. That year, Victor won the 2007 Arnold Classic, relegating one of the best versions of Dexter Jackson we have ever seen, to second place. This win successfully turned Victor into Jay Cutler’s number one threat going into the 2007 Mr. Olympia, and for good reason. The 2007 Olympia did in fact come down to Victor vs Jay, with the first place prize going to Jay, in arguably the most controversial decision in Olympia history. If you had surveyed one hundred bodybuilding fans after that historic show, eighty of them would have said they had Victor Martinez winning the Olympia over Jay. For all intents and purposes, Victor was the best bodybuilder on the planet in 2007. Unfortunately, Victor injured his leg after the Olympia severely enough to prevent him from ever being his best again. The question is, what if Victor had never hurt his leg after that 2007 Olympia?

After watching the Arnold and Olympia in 2007, it is hard to imagine any bodybuilder defeating Victor the following year at any show. At the end of 2007, Victor was only 34 years old, and already clearly superior to Dexter, Jay, Kai and Phil. At 34 years old, Victor was just hitting what is generally accepted to be a modern bodybuilder’s prime, his mid to late 30’s. That said, it is only logical to assume that Victor would have certainly improved from 2007 to 2008, relegating all of the aforementioned bodybuilding superstars, including Dexter, behind him once again. The reason that Dexter is of significance here, is because he went on to win bodybuilding’s greatest title over Jay Cutler in 2008. With Victor bringing his best package ever, he would have certainly beat Dexter, win the title, and change the history of bodybuilding completely. Dexter is one of only 13 total winners of the Mr. Olympia, and with his loss at the hands of Victor, he would be removed forever from this hyper prestigious list.

Not only would Dex no longer be a Mr. Olympia champ, but with Jay being pushed all the way back to third behind Vic and Dex, it is not out of the question to think that Jay would have retired at that point. This would have also greatly altered bodybuilding’s future, more specifically, Jay’s legacy in bodybuilding, morphing him from a four time champ into a two time champ. With Jay Cutler missing from the 2009 and 2010 Olympia lineups, an even further improved Victor would have pretty much steamrolled the Olympia both of those years. 2011 is where this hypothetical story becomes much more difficult to predict. Victor would be coming into the 2011 Olympia at 38 years old, as a three time Olympia champ. This version of Victor would be going head to head with what many people feel is the best Phil Heath we have ever seen. I would have to give this hypothetical battle to Phil, ending Victor’s reign once and for all in 2011. One could potentially make a case for a 39 year old, never injured Victor, besting Phil and Kai in 2012. However, I personally feel that it is a stretch.

Kai Greene has been in the pro ranks for many years. He first became a talked about threat in 2007, sporting decent size, spectacular lines, and otherworldly conditioning. Kai went on to win a few small shows before really breaking into the upper echelons of bodybuilding by winning the Arnold classic in 2009. Much to the bodybuilding world’s pleasure, Kai returned to this show in 2010 to battle a rapidly improving Phil Heath, where Kai would once again take top honors at the second largest show in our sport, albeit in a controversial fashion. Nonetheless, Kai had established himself as the clear cut number one contender for the Mr. Olympia title. However, Kai took an extremely disappointing 7th place at the 2010 Mr. Olympia, coming in much too heavy.

Kai skipped the Arnold in 2011, opting to instead enter into the New York Pro, which not surprisingly, Kai won by a landslide despite being only 90% or so. That years Arnold saw a 97% Branch Warren beat out Dennis Wolf, two guys that would have had little hope against an in shape Kai. Obviously Kai’s momentum going into that years Olympia (where he placed a disappointing 3rd) would have been far greater coming off an Arnold win in comparison to a New York Pro win. 2012 was a similar year for Kai, minus the New York Pro. He once again opted out of the Arnold and focused solely on the Olympia. The 2012 Arnold was won by a 90% Branch Warren who would have had no chance against Kai. Kai and Branch have a similar physique in that they have packed more muscle on their frames than one would ever think possible. That said, Kai does have slightly better shape, and far superior muscle separation. For these reasons, unless Kai is way off a la the 2010 Mr O., Branch would have little chance.

Kai went on to finish 2nd to Phil at the 2012 O, looking the best he had since the 2010 Australian Pro, but still lost to Phil quite handedly in the eyes of the judges. Apparently Kai does not learn from his mistakes, as 2013 was an exact replica of 2012. He skipped the Arnold which was won by a 90% Dexter Jackson, who would have looked like a middleweight next to Kai, while Kai displayed similar condition to Dexter. Instead, Kai came into the 2013 Olympia far too heavy, yet again taking a distant 2nd to Phil. Kai continued his complacent ways another year, choosing to once again shy away from the Arnold classic, only to watch a 95% Dennis Wolf take the title in 2014. One would be hard pressed to find a person in our industry who feels that Kai would not have easily toppled Dennis that year in Columbus. When Kai and Dennis turn their backs to the judges in order to display their back shots, Kai begins to make Dennis look like a scarecrow as you scratch your head wondering how Kai got his lats to attach at the hip. At this point, it should come as no surprise that Kai would once again skip the Arnold classic in 2015, a show that was won for the fifth time by Dexter Jackson, who was only 95%, if that. Once again, had Kai done the show and looked anything close to how he looked at the 2014 Olympia, he would have won decisively.

It is not out of the realm of possibility that Kai, had he chosen to compete in the Arnold for the last decade, could have seven Arnold Classic wins, smashing the current record of five held by Dexter Jackson. Placing 2nd at the Mr. Olympia multiple times will leave you with a mountain of fans along with a powerful legacy. Unfortunately for Kai, both of these credentials pale in comparison to being the most decorated Arnold Classic champion of all time. Kai seems to have little regret about skipping the Arnold all these years. However, it may behoove younger competitors to take note of how Kai’s decisions altered the way his career would ultimately unfold. No matter how you slice it, had Kai been participating in the Arnold all these years, he would currently be the owner of at least six Arnold Classic trophies.