If Phil Heath Retires in 2018, What Happens Next?

by Matt Weik

I listened to an interview Phil did while out at the Arnold Classic, and he and Jimmy Mentis were talking about retirement. It got me thinking about life without Phil up on stage and what that means for the IFBB and the sport of bodybuilding.

First off, I personally don’t believe Phil will retire after the 2018 Mr. Olympia like they jokingly discussed. But, we need to be realistic and know that he won’t be competing forever unless he takes a chapter out of Dexter Jackson’s book. I can see Phil going for 10+ Mr. Olympia titles before he hangs up his trunks. I can also see him jumping on the Arnold Classic stage since that is a title he’s never walked away with, and one that I think would mean something to him (not that it would change his legacy though).

Why would Phil retire?

That’s a great question. Why would he retire? He’s at the top of his game and while Ramy has been improving, there really isn’t anyone else who can go toe-to-toe with him. Sure, you can argue that on any given day any bodybuilder is beatable, but even when Phil has been off it has been enough to take home the Sandow and fat check. And as long as he’s making good money winning one show each year, why would he stop at this point? He’s still young.

Just last year Phil had a double-hernia and intestinal issues, yet he was still able to get it done and win the Olympia. Have we seen the best Phil Heath? I don’t think so. I believe we still have a couple more years until we get to that point and his body doesn’t make as many changes. He’s brought up all of his lagging body parts, in my opinion. So, the only thing left is to continue refining his look and nail his conditioning.

Why would Phil want to retire? I think there are many reasons. While he doesn’t travel nearly as much as he did when he was a sponsored athlete, I think Phil wants to spend more time at home with his family. Traveling consistently can take a lot out of you. It’s not fun going from airport to airport, even if it is to see your fans. So, I can’t really blame him for shutting down his travel schedule, even though it would still be nice if he went out and gave back to the fans and made appearances.

Additionally, Phil really doesn’t need to compete. I have been able to sit down with Phil back when he was a sponsored athlete with a supplement company I worked for, and he is a truly bright dude with a ton of business sense. He knows exactly what he wants to do with his money and where it needs to be to align with his future goals. I can see him opening up a few more businesses and running those when he retires from the sport. And while his supplement line didn’t do nearly as well as he thought, that’s a tough market to dive into and a very expensive one at that for a start-up.

Who’s next?

This is a really good question. If I were to look into my crystal ball, I would say Bonac and Ramy are the future of the sport based on what the judges are awarding. While I personally like the look that Cedric brings to the stage and his personality, I believe the sport will still move towards and award the mass monsters and freakish physiques. This would mean guys like Bonac, Ramy, Roelly, Rhoden, and Dex (assuming he doesn’t retire) would still be front and center of the sport.

But, as I mentioned earlier, I think the sport will be Ramy and Bonac after Phil. I’d like to see Roelly in there, but the guy is not consistent with his conditioning and while he’s humongous, he can’t seem to dial it in for each show.

Could we see some newer bodybuilders making a splash on stage? Maybe? The guys coming out of Kuwait are legit, so I’m excited to see what Nathan De Asha and some other guys can do to improve their physiques further to place better. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Josh Lenartowicz yet, or Beyeke, Curry, Compton, Kuclo, Akim, Osladil, or even Lockett.

Year after year we assume Phil is going to win the Olympia title. And while I’m not a betting man, I’d never bet against him. However, when he retires and out of the picture, I can see a huge shake-up at the Olympia each year. While we rarely see a new Olympia champ, I can see it bouncing from competitor to competitor after Phil retires. Taking Phil out of the equation opens the door for Ramy, Bonac, Rhoden, and a few others to consistently be fighting for the title. And unless Ramy can figure out his conditioning where he maintains his size and mass and can dial it in, I’m not thinking he’s a lock for the next Sandow.

Again, I think we have some time before Phil decides enough is enough. But, I figured it would be fun to have a discussion about who might be next in line to take the throne. Who do you think will wear the crown that Phil has possessed for so long? Let us know in the comments and on social media.