by Christian Duque
Whereas last year could have seen as many as 4 Mr. Olympias on one stage, this year is equally interesting in that it has two battling it out. We haven’t had an Olympia where the two Mr. O’s on stage are single title winners, in a long, long time. This kind of reminds me of 1985, when Samir battled Haney. At the time, they both had a Sandow each, but it was pretty obvious to all who was going to win that showdown. Haney totally redefined the sport. Similarly, there weren’t many who thought Dexter could topple Heath in 2012 – though it was, at least, plausible. Is it pretty obvious Ramy is going to win in 2021?
Last year was a great year for The Egyptian Phenom. He didn’t actually qualify for the Superbowl of Bodybuilding, but he got there. He was also able to bring a surreal level of size and condition, which allowed him to edge out Brandon Curry. That being said, Brandon defeated Phil Heath, which truthfully, was a huge contest within a contest.
The idea that Curry beat Heath, but still didn’t retain his title, is almost unbelievable. Nonetheless, I think this gave him a ton of self-confidence in what he’ll be able to do this year, and beyond. Brandon is not only capable of beating Ramy, I predict he will!!
The fact of the matter is, math is not on Ramy’s side. There’s a lot of factors to consider, and that’s a big one. Remember, the people prepping Brandon, have now been in his corner for a few years, and they’re the same people who prepped Big Ramy for many years. They know him and they know how his physique works.
As I’ve said many times before, bodybuilding is truly a thinking man’s sport, and when you’re talking about the Top 3, you’re at a level of competitiveness where any guy can win it. The absolute worst thing Ramy and Chad could do is assume that the size factor, alone, will create enough of a buffer to keep guys like Choopan and Curry away.
Brandon doesn’t need to play the size game. From 2019 to 2020, he really brought up his back, which has always been good for him. He also embarked on a mission to bring up his wheels. While Heath has gained a lot of bad blood for hazing Curry, throughout his reign, it may have lit a fire under The Prodigy. Even the Dream Killer shirts and marketing campaigns may have embolden Curry.
In 2020, Brandon basically sent Phil to retirement. Could he compete again? Sure, why not, but he’s not going to win the Olympia. Brandon bested him in most of the poses and many believe Hadi beat Phil, as well. At this point, Brandon’s chief competition is Ramy, not Hadi, not Nick Walker, not anyone else. And in my opinion, Ramy is probably very aware of what Brandon is doing, and if anything, he’s hoping the Nashville native gets moved out to the wings of the Top 6, very early on in the prejudging.
The fact is, Ramy does not want Brandon next to him. I think if he could have his choice, he’d pick anyone but him; he may even want The Persian Wolf beside him, more, because even though the Iranian powerhouse packs tons of dense muscle on every last inch of his frame, he still gets dwarfed by the reigning champion. Moreover, everyone on that stage will have a difficult time, trying to figure out how to make up for the huge size difference.
That being said, Curry has a fuller, more aesthetic look that he can present in such a way as to neutralize the defending champion’s mass. It will all depend on The Prodigy’s wheels. Better legs and it’s lights out!!. That’s not to say there aren’t poses Ramy wouldn’t win, after all, he is Mr. Olympia. For example, I don’t think anyone would beat him on the side chest, but that’s one pose. I don’t know of other poses that I would give to him nine times out of ten. That being said, all the guys need to keep evolving.
A lot of people make the case that Mr. Olympia sets the tone for the sport. This is true. I’ve said this, myself, and I believe it to be dicta. Big Ramy is a mass monster and mass is in command in the sport. I think this has been echoed by Nick Walker’s big wins at the NY Pro and the recent Arnold Classic.
Ok, so mass is king, fine, but bodybuilding is still a subjective sport. It’s still a discipline that rewards aesthetics. Ramy is huge and Ramy can come in ripped, but his look is not as appealing as Curry’s. In fact, Hadi’s look isn’t much better than Ramy’s.
A great way to for an elite bodybuilder to sabotage themselves, is trying to be some they’re not. The last thing Brandon and Abdullah did was try to blow up. I really like that Curry isn’t going to try to beat Ramy on Ramy’s terms. Most guys who try to ramp up their weight, end up ruining all their lines and shortchanging their physiques. That’s not something a Mr. Olympia like Brandon Curry would do. In fact, every time he’s put out an update video, throughout 2021 especially, all the pundits have lined up to congratulate him. Everything has been done with the 2021 event in mind.
On the flipside, we haven’t seen anything really different from Ramy. Size and condition, size and condition, that’s all we really see. And if we look at history, a bigger Ramy isn’t often a successful one. Will he come bigger? Will he come in lighter? I don’t know, but evolving in this sport is almost a requirement. And that most definitely goes for the titleholder. Who knows if what Ramy brought in 2020 would be enough to win him his second Sandow in 2021?
With Ramy there really isn’t much he can do in terms of reinventing his look. Without size, what does he have? With too much size, we have seen him take less than stellar placings. I can’t imagine him coming in any harder than last year and with the emphasis, seemingly, against athletes coming in too hard that it compromises their health, I think it may be unlikely that if The Egyptian Phenom comes in bone dry, that that will give any kind of a special edge. That being said, perhaps Ramy built up his back, perhaps he’ll bring in sharper hamstrings, and/or maybe he’ll come in with jaw dropping calves. Then again, he may come in exactly the same. I know we’ve seen training clips where the guy looks bigger than a house, but anyone who bases Olympia predictions on backstage pump-up footage, probably believes the moon is made out of green cheese. Put plainly, Ramy has a lot of weak points and that may not be something his fans want to concede, but he’s very beatable. And the one guy who has the absolute best shot to do it, is Brandon Curry.
Interestingly, both guys have had the full year to prepare for the Olympia. Brandon did very well with the time he had to work with, leading up to the 2020 contest, making very noticeable improvements. That year, Ramy competed at the Arnold, nearly got on stage at a qualifying event, and then competed at the O. Although Covid sidelined him from qualifying, his body basically got pushed hard three times in one year. In 2021, Ramy will have had a lot of time to rest, train, and build. Now, we’ve all seen pics of him and he looks massive, but again, when the last bits of fat and water are gone, that’s when we’ll really see what he actually built over the course of the last ten months. I know that Brandon will beat what he brought in 2020, just like in 2020, he beat what he brought in 2019. The major question will be if 2021 Ramy beats his 2020 version?
Could you imagine Ramy dropping down the placings and Brandon battling one or two other major contenders for the title? Not only is that possible, it’s something I’m sure Curry has contemplated. Brandon could easily find himself battling some familiar faces, in Roelly Winklaar and William Bonac for the 2021 Sandow. He could also, potentially see himself battling The Mutant, Nick Walker and Iain Valliere, as well. Again, we aren’t dealing with a 7x Mr. Olympia like Phil Heath in his prime, we’re talking a Big Ramy that had a great contest last December. That’s really it, folks. We are dealing with a one-time champion. There’s a very real possibility that Ramy isn’t even in the Top 3 in 2021. But how can I say that?
I can say that, because math and history are not on Ramy’s side. I love the guy. I love his personality and his good heart. I love that he loves the fans. All that aside, for years, it’s been widely known that Ramy needs a coach/camp to basically hold his hand. Left to his own devices, he could be another Lionel Beyeke. Both guys are excellent, provided they don’t slip up, but maybe now that he’s won the title, maybe subconsciously he requires even more to get motivated. Maybe he thinks that because he won it, that he can now not lose it. Maybe, I’m totally off, but maybe I’m not.
Yet again, let me reiterate, that I think Brandon has better aesthetics, will have brought up his wheels even more, and will take it to Ramy in a way that The Egyptian Phenom may not be able to contain. You need to have nerves of steel at this level!. If it starts to look like Curry front and center, Ramy will need to keep his head in the game. If he’s mentally unprepared to battle and, simultaneously, regain ground, it might be his mindset that loses him the title. Some guys simply can’t process going from the lead to any kind of setback, much less knowing how to get back to the front. Guys like Curry, Bonac, and Winklaar, have this down to a science. And that’s the product of YEARS of competing and being underdogs!!
I also don’t know that Ramy would have been able to vastly improve his physique from December to October. For one, because I don’t know that he could do that given the amount of time he was working with and, for two, because of his age. At 37 years of age (just a year younger than Brandon), he would need to bring up lagging body parts which he’s been unable to improve, over the course of years. Brandon, on the other hand, has been making significant improvements since 2017 when he totally reinvented himself.
Going back in time, Ramy, also, had a great 2017 taking 2nd at the Olympia; however, he wasn’t able to improve the next year (ring a bell?). In fact, he nearly fell out of the Top 6 in 2018, only to disappear for 2019. Granted, he went through a bunch of coaches, but he wasn’t really doing much in terms of improving his look. Everyone put so much into his first-ever Arnold, only for him to place behind an aging Dexter Jackson and a ripped to shreds William Bonac. In what supposed to be taking candy from a baby, showed him getting crushed. In fact, in 2020, I think Ramy’s #1 goal was just to make it to the Olympia stage.
Although he looked ready, who knows if he would have qualified in Europe. I mean, the odds are he would have, but Covid prevented that from happening so he got a present. That said, I think what Ramy did at the 2020 Olympia was nothing short of a miracle, not to call it a fluke. I guess only time will tell.
Aside from who will win the Olympia, which is a pretty generic question, who do you think will have made bigger improvements – Big Ramy or Brandon Curry – for the 2021 Olympia? That’s a question I’d love to see bodybuilding fans answer.
I believe that if Brandon has significantly brought up his legs and Ramy brings a carbon-cutout of 2020 to the 2021 stage, that Brandon Curry wins the Mr. Olympia. What say you?