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Could Jeremy Buendia Reign Men’s Physique Again?

by Christian Duque

Whenever I hear this question I tend to chuckle. Anytime someone asks if a multi-year Olympia winner can come back and win again I find it a little silly because when those guys were on top no one would ever think they were beatable. Not only that, but if you even suggested they had any real weaknesses people would read you the riot act. Unlike single year champions, Buendia didn’t win just one title. He also didn’t win the title Marc Anthony did. I have tremendous respect for the first-ever MPD Mr. O; however, at the time no one knew what was required of the new division.

The title that he won was a beach body look. It’s been years where it was harder, years where it was bigger, and now we find ourselves at a time when MPD looks like bodybuilding from the waist up. These guys are bigger, more ripped, and way harder. The vascularity is downright freaky and the envelope seems to be pushed farther and farther out. What’s even more interesting is that a lot of Physique guys are coming in with bigger legs even though they don’t get scored on this. We’re at a time when the division is embracing it all and this is why many people think that Buendia’s winning look may not be a winning look in 2023.

I’m here to tell you that you can quit worrying because just like everyone else he has evolved. It stands to reason that he’s not going to bring the same look from years past. Then again, it’s all about who’s there on that given day. Physique-based sports are the most subjective of all so it stands to reason that it’s all about different looks. Buendia doesn’t have to be the best Banks or the best Brown or the best Potvin. Once you fall for that trap, there’s no getting out.

Jeremy has flirted with comebacks in the past, but his goals are greater than the stage. He has wanted to get married, have a family, and square away investments. Much in the vein of Jay Cutler and Flex Lewis, Buendia understands that there’s a future off the stage and he needs to put himself in a good position to earn for the time when he no longer battles for placings and prize money. He’s already done that. He’s also survived scandals and social media infighting.

After all, MPD has probably always been highly contentious and there’s really no line that won’t be crossed. When it comes to the competitiveness within its ranks anything goes. Jeremy has been on the receiving end of a lot of torment and he’s been able to always come out on top. He’s lost coaches, sponsors, and many have turned on him, but he always lands on his feet. Love him or hate him, you have to give him props for that. Plus when he’s on, he’s unstoppable. And PLENTY of guys can attest to that. Naturally, many are still deep in denial thinking they lost to him because of “politics.” The reality of the matter is that Jeremy was more than likely the best MPD competitor of all times. Very few people would disagree with that. He’s also been the division’s loudest supporter. Let’s not forget his feuds with the likes of Dexter Jackson. He believed that MPD paid the bills and to a certain extent – particularly in local and regional amateur contests – it certainly kept many promoters in business. That said, taking abuse comes with the territory.

Very few competitors will ever know what kind of stress Buendia was under. They all want to be #1 but very few would be able to live under the constant scrutiny of others. It’s one thing to deal with this if you’re an influencer and it’s quite another if you’re deep in prep at the most elite levels in your sport. There’s no pause button and there’s certainly no stop button. Plus when you’re the best you can’t hide.

Well, I guess you could be like Big Ramy in Egypt or Hadi Choopan in Iran, but if you’re a U.S. based athlete and you’re working with a number of big supplement, clothing, and accessory companies in the fitness industry you just can’t make yourself scarce. You’re going to run into the critics, whether at contests, the gyms, photoshoots or expos. How you deal with them is key. And you’re not always going to be the guy to walk away looking like the winner, but you have to show face. If you don’t, then you don’t make the big money. Buendia is all about the fitness industry and not only can he take the pressure, he knows exactly how to screw with someone’s mind. He knows how to play his opponents and he knows how to work the media. These are lessons that come with years of being on top. Even if he doesn’t actually come back he knows what to say, what to post, and how to carry himself in order to get maximum buzz from the commentators and the diehard fans.

Now everyone has a YouTube channel. You’ve got solo acts and websites. Everyone seems to have a video series, a column, and/or a podcast. Everyone has something to say. The problem is there isn’t a lot going on. Hadi, and Ramy before him, are from a different culture. They work hard, they eat, and they pose. They do social media but they don’t care what Joe Blow or John Smith is doing. And that’s old school in and of itself. If you’re at the top you’re thinking of ways to stay there, you are not concerned with what the guys in the second and third callouts are saying or doing. That’s called taking the high road, staying in your lane, and spending time on the things that matter. That’s also the recipe for a truly boring scene.

It all goes back to Pumping Iron and the approach that was used to make that more than a film about guys lifting weights and laying out on a beach. If there hadn’t been some infighting, drama, and negativity, it would never have taken off. So what if the feuds were staged? It’s entertaining. Just like when King George Brown stormed the Olympia press conference was staged – it was still hella fun to see him and Jeremy argue like they were in the school yard. Trash talk sells!! It makes people think shit’s about to break off and that’s exciting. When everyone is about the bigger pictures and being “professional,” fans fall asleep.

Although I’m curious to see what kind of physique Buendia would bring if he did in fact compete in 2023, I’m more interested in what people would say and what he says. The drama that would ensue would be what I’d be writing most about for Iron Magazine. The websites, podcasts, and “tv shows” would have a field day. No one talks shit like the Men’s Physique guys. The bodybuilders are boring and the Classic guys don’t even have social media that I’m aware of. I’m kidding of course – but they’re that boring.

Bumstead is the classiest, nicest, and most boring guy out there. He even admitted to crying during his prep on stage. There’s nothing weak about crying. It’s very honest and it’s very touching, but it’s also boring. People like champions that are assholes way more than champions who are nice guys. I’m not saying Buendia is an asshole, but if someone’s going to be an asshole he’s not going to pull a Gandhi or a Jesus. He’ll give it right back! And you can sell popcorn to that show because everyone will be on the edge of their seat waiting and wanting more.

So, will Jeremy come back? What will he look like? Will he be successful? Only time will tell.

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