Bodybuilding’s Greatest “What Ifs” – Part 3


by Geoff Roberts

In the world of sports, few topics are as exciting or intriguing to discuss and dissect as hypothetical “what if” scenarios. Questions such as “What if Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali fought each other when both in their prime?” or “What if Michael Jordan played in today’s modern era?” come to mind. Bodybuilding competition is a complement of many different skills and strokes of luck. How one places in a bodybuilding contest is often dependent on weight training/cardio tactics and intensity, drug/supplement use, ability to rest, available funds, and the extent to which one was genetically blessed in regards to structure, metabolism, and health. Bodybuilding, due to the general nature of the sport and the infinite number of factors pertaining to the sport, just so happens to have a nearly endless number of great hypothetical what-ifs. Some fairly recent what-ifs in our industry circulate around the names Big Ramy, Kai Greene and Phil Heath.

Big Ramy is becoming a what-if all star of sorts, due to his inhuman amount of size and ability to build muscle at an even less mortal fashion. Conjuring up a what-if scenario regarding Big Ramy is not a difficult task. However, the most intriguing of the Big Ramy what-ifs has to be the question of how the landscape of men’s bodybuilding would be different had Big Ramy discovered the formula for showing up in top condition right out of the gate. Ironically, the best condition that Ramy has shown us thus far in his career was in fact right out of the gate, at his pro debut, the 2013 New York Pro. Unfortunately, he has yet to show us that level of conditioning again, and even at that fateful debut in 2013, despite winning in a very convincing fashion, Ramy was not exactly in supreme condition.

The question is, what if Ramy had managed to improve on his 2013 New York Pro condition and bring that look into every show he has done since? Phil Heath devastated the 2013 Mr. Olympia lineup, displaying a physique that an in shape 2013 Ramy may have had trouble with. Either way, with proper condition, Ramy would have certainly defeated Dennis Wolf and Kai Greene, placing 2nd at that show, worst case. All other things being equal, Ramy would have gone on to steamroll the Olympia in 2014 and 2015 with perfect scores. With the crowning of Ramy as the new Olympia champion in 2014, Phil Heath’s legacy would take a major hit. Instead of being a five time Olympia champ, going on six, he would be a three time champ, with little chance of ever regaining the title over a younger Big Ramy. Had Ramy decided to compete in the Arnold Classic in the 2014 after this hypothetical runner up finish to Phil, he would have certainly bested Dennis Wolf, leaving Dennis with no major wins.

A shredded Big Ramy would have put a serious damper on many otherwise great bodybuilding careers. At 31 years old, Ramy would already have two Sandow trophies to his name. Assuming Ramy remained healthy and was able to maintain peak form well into his late thirties, it is not out of the question for Ramy to have surpassed the all time record of Olympia wins. Ramy would match Ronnie’s and Haney’s shard record of eight wins at only 37 years old, and reach Iris Kyle’s all time record of ten wins at 39. This is a very possible scenario seeing as most bodybuilders are able to improve until they are roughly 40 years old, especially if they possess elite level genetics, which Ramy very obviously does. Now that Ramy is officially working with Chris Aceto, hopefully we will get to see what this hypothetical “shredded Ramy” looks like in real life with our own eyes.

As mentioned in past columns, the 2009 Mr. Olympia may have been the most anticipated of its kind. A large part of that anticipation was a young bodybuilder who had been making improvements at an alarming rate. His name was Phil Heath, who as very appropriately nicknamed The Gift, in respect to his otherworldly genetic gifts. Phil had placed a very strong third at the Olympia the year before in 2008. Some fans were even of the opinion that Phil could have won that show, or at the very least placed second behind Dexter. With Phil’s aforementioned uncanny ability to improve his physique, everyone was expecting Phil to be at least ten or fifteen percent better at the 2009 Mr. O. Especially considering that Phil was taking the entire year off from competition to improve. Unfortunately for fans of The Gift, Phil fell ill the night before the Mr. Olympia prejudging in 2009, preventing him from displaying the improvements he made over the last year.

Phil went on to place fifth that show, although any person who knows bodybuilding could clearly see that at the finals, Phil was no where near the fifth place spot. In fact, in my opinion, Phil was Jay Cutler’s main threat on Saturday. At the 2009 finals, Phil unveiled a physique that was very close to as good as the one he showed the following year in 2010, where he placed runner up to Jay, and probably should have won. Had Phil not gotten sick before that show, it is entirely possible that Phil would have placed second to Jay, relegating the reigning Mr. Olympia, Dexter Jackson to fourth place. A placing that The Blade may have had a seriously hard time dealing with mentally.

This healthy version of Phil would have also set up the 2010 Olympia as a Jay vs Phil showdown as opposed to the Jay vs everyone else showdown that it actually turned into. With this new story line in place, it is possible that Phil would have been given the nod over Jay Cutler in 2010, which as stated earlier, he probably should have gotten anyway. Phil nearly defeated Jay at this show with very little expectations of him winning, if he was realistically expected to possibly win, he probably would have. If so, Phil would currently be the owner of six Sandow trophies, putting him within very realistic striking distance of the all time Mr. Olympia wins record, and tying the run of the great Dorian Yates. As it currently stands, Phil is only at five Olympia wins, and based on his past couple of showings, it would seem that he has very little chance of managing to squeak out another three Olympia victories.